They are everywhere in my life, and always have been – people going about their lives in a heroic fashion. No, they were not slaying dragons or climbing the highest mountains, but in their own ways, I have seen so many people do what would seem impossible to me. In the face of grief, pain or hopeless situations, they would pick themselves up, and find a path through the hopelessness, a way of putting one foot in front of the other as they got on with the business of living. Beyond that, the true heroism has always been for me in being able to find beauty and art along the hopeless and hard path, finding a way to make of this life a better place for those around them. Who are the heroes? My grandmother, who would make clothes from flour-sacks when there was no money for fabric, who made of the water in which vegetables were cooked a delicacy for which her children would vie. This woman still maintained a parlour, she still painted her garden railings white every year, and there were still sweet-peas and aquilegias to be seen inside those railings. My Auntie Imelda, her spine bent from a childhood accident – tiny and deformed to many eyes, I saw her as beautiful, and wanted to be like her when I grew up – book-loving and musical, with perfect eyebrows and a shine to her skin; knitting for nieces, not the practical, keep-you-warm jumpers that mothers would knit, but cardigans with a touch of glitter or fluff, in a shade not designed to hide the dirt, with pearly buttons. I saw all my aunts carry on through illness, grief and set-back, find laughter and joy still in life. These were the heroic ones. Between them, they took paralysis, abuse, widowhood, cancer, loss of a child, childlessness, and went on. They, each and every one, lived until they died. There was Esther, making a decision against more surgery, more “treatments” and choosing to relish her last trip to the sea, choosing to plant bulbs for the spring she would not see, choosing to make sure that next year, the wisteria she had pruned in her pain would bloom ever more abundantly and beautifully.
My mother, my father. These are two more heroes in my life, though I choose not to say more of their heroism here right now. I am blessed in the lives my parents have lived.
There are friends, there have been friends, who have offered me a model of heroism I hope I would be able to follow should I be faced with the same paths. Those who have come to tell their stories in their last days. There was Maureen, delighting in my successes, offering her wisdom. There was Peggy, who vowed to swim with the dolphins. I see her now, perpetually floating in the waters she loved, smilingly playing and calling out to us “Come on in! The water’s fine!” There have been heroes who went suddenly, without warning. After Jamshid’s death, so many people told me of how their lives had been changed by the practical wisdom he offered along with his healing herbs. He was a quiet hero.
No. The ‘heroes’ conjured for me by the word are not those who slay dragons, but those who battle the nipping rats of daily struggles, and keep on; not those who climb mountains, but those who stay hour by hour, day by day, on a stony path, with blisters on their heels and toes, and who still have a spirit that delights in a stream’s babble and the breeze’s fingers playing with the golden leaves of a birch. God bless the heroes.
Find more Sunday Scribblings on the topic of Heroes HERE
Labels: childhood, family, Life., Sunday Scribbling.