Heroes of All Ages


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            I
worked hard for something witty to write about this week, but after watching
the last few hours of news broadcasts remembering 9/11, I knew this week wasn’t
the time for witty.  With that
said, I shared my feelings about this tragic event earlier this year in another
post (Here’s to Hoping, 5/2/11) and just can’t wrap my head and heart around it again.  Today, though, is a celebration of
heroes and survivors, as it should be, and that I can tackle, because two of my
heroes, women who have survived a great deal in their lives, are also meant to
be celebrated today.

            Today
is National Grandparents’ Day, a fact I’m sure most of us will overlook this
year, like most years.  I can’t
once remember celebrating Grandparents’ Day since those days in elementary
school when our music teacher, who loved any excuse for a concert, invited in
our grandparents for music, cookies, and coffee.  And shame on me, because with two working parents it was
often only my grandparents who could make it for those half dozen concerts,
parties, and assemblies throughout the year.  I doubt in all my years of elementary school if Gramma G
ever missed one.  I remember
frantically searching the other lined faces for the one familiar one that would
smile back, no matter how poorly I sang, or acted, or played the recorder.  Then there were the countless soccer
games both my grandmothers sat through, huddled on the sidelines in late fall,
warming their hands in the car at half-time, hoping they’d see me score a goal
or make a big save.  I played on
the C team, which was pathetic when you consider our town didn’t have
a B team.  If you weren’t good
enough to make the A team, you were thrown in with the other pathetic riffraff
and scheduled to play every surrounding towns’ group of Bad News Bears. 
We didn’t win a game in all of middle
school, but my grandparents didn’t care.

Even when I was old enough that I shouldn’t have needed a cheering
squad, they were there.  Gramma and
Grandpa G made it to my first college rugby game (the only game I ever played
on the A team!).  They watched as
their “little girl” got pummeled by girls three times her size, but
seeing my enjoyment, never once told me I shouldn’t play.  And Gramma B was the only relative who
didn’t have travel plans the Columbus Day weekend of my black-belt
ceremony.  
So despite never having
stepped foot in a dojo before, she sat through the strange Japanese ceremony
filled with chants and bows that must have looked to her like some strange cult
following, politely snacked on the food at the party afterward (avoiding the
sushi, if I remember correctly), and in her typical upbeat fashion walked out
with me and said, “That was lovely!”

            My
grandparents had lived through a lot of history before I showed up, and they
were willing to share with me everything they learned from it.  My grandfather taught me to be proud of
working hard and not to fear a little dirt or grease under my fingernails.  He never threw me out of the garage
when he was working on cars. 
Instead he’d tell me some silly joke from under a junker he was
restoring.  I still equate the
smell of oil, gasoline, and that funny gritty soap to everything Grandpa.  Gramma B models the “glass
half-full” philosophy I try to emulate.  Every tragedy tied her tighter to her family, so that truly,
as long as she’s surrounded by us, everything is always
“lovely.”  And Gramma G
taught me to judge nothing except a person’s heart.  You can say the wrong thing, in the wrong way, at the wrong
time, in a volume way too loud and still be right, if the meaning behind it is
full of love and humor.  My
grandparents were and are always full of love and humor.

            It’s
sad that Grandparents’ Day and 9/11 share the same day this year, but its also
fitting in a way.  Our grandparents
were the first generation of heroes to survive an attack on our country.  They recall Pearl Harbor and too many
other national and world-wide tragedies with the same acuity we remember
9/11.  They also united and sprung
to action; the men enlisted, while the women stayed behind to raise families
and work in the factories.  Those
years of sacrifice and trial defined them, the way 9/11 and the months and
years surrounding it have come to define many of our generation.  It made them strong and proud (ornery
is how it occasionally comes across in their old-age).  It also made them appreciate freedom
and country and family: a valuable lesson to be reminded of today or any day.

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2 Comments

Filed under The Rest of Life

2 responses to “Heroes of All Ages

  1. A belated welcome to the blogging world.

    I have been meaning to check your site out since Ken (or Nadine?) told me about it last Winter. I had saved it to my Instapaper account and it got buried in an avalanche of reading material.

    Looks great. As someone who writes (a lot) I am hugely impressed by anyone with the stamina to accomplish a novel length work. I am strictly an essayist. I have a adverse reaction to writing anything longer than a couple thousand words. =)

    BTW- On a design note I really like your background graphic.

    Like

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