07 Mar She’s my HERo, who’s yours?

We all need a hero. It inspires us, strengthens us, and keeps us going, even when the going gets tough. It gives us hope.

To me, a hero is someone you look up to, and aspire to be like … Someone whose words and beliefs affect yours. An influence that is a daily gift. Someone you want to make proud—someone who sees what makes you special.

My grandmother is my hero. She passed away many years ago, but to this very moment, she’s always with me, and she’s my hero for life.

What makes her my hero? She was a survivor, an unparalleled protector of her family, a strong and fearless woman far, far ahead of her time; a woman with a resilient spirit that to me appeared unbreakable, yet which had a softness to it that made me feel immersed in love.

Don’t be mistaken—she was tough on me, too. She pushed me and always told me to be and do my best. Having lived through two wars, she wasn’t what you’d describe as a coddling grandma. But she always told me she believed in me. That I’m meant to make a positive difference in this world. That she loved me.

From as far back as I can remember, and as the youngest of seven kids, I remember sleeping with my grandmother. I remember so much about her. Not so much about specific things that happened, or things she did, but how I felt. How I felt when I sat near her, hugged her, listened to her. How I felt at night when I would sleep with her, holding her arm, lying close.

I had this weird habit when I cuddled with her. I used to pinch her big, soft grandma arm as I lay there, usually listening to one of her stories. I still remember the feeling of pinching her arm as I fell asleep, taking such incredible comfort from each pinch. I recall asking if it hurt her, and she always said no. I told her it made me feel safe and good, and she would always say that’s all that mattered.

That’s why she’s my hero—because she taught me about unconditional love. She taught me the feeling of being loved. She showed me the strength love and belief can lend to any and all situations. She taught me how to be strong, yet soft; tough, yet compassionate … To stand up for what I know is right, to speak up for myself and those who can’t. To trust myself, my intuition, and my judgment. To go for what I believe in and want, despite whatever odds stood in the way. She taught and showed me about values. I could write a whole book on her life, and one day I will.

Unfortunately, due to my parents divorcing when I was very young, I was separated from her for almost 20 years. We reunited when she joined the rest of us here in Canada. Well, most of us. By the time she moved here, we were all grown up. My siblings were all over the world. Lucky me, she lived in the house I lived in. Lucky me, I got to have a few years where I took care of her.

It was like we had never parted. I would sit with her, even as a university student by then. She would tell me stories, and I would listen in awe. As I would bathe her and comb her hair, or cook dinner for her, I would listen intently as she told me about her incredible life. By then, she was quite elderly, and the stories were often repeats from the ones the day before, but I listened and asked her questions each and every time.

Sometimes as we sat together, I would find myself holding her arm, and pinching her soft skin like I did as a child. I’d say does it hurt Grandma? I would tell her it still makes me feel good and safe. And she would say that’s all that mattered.

When my grandmother passed, I was living in Vancouver for my job. She was in Toronto. When I said goodbye to her, I felt a calm inside me, because I knew she’d always be there. And she is.

I miss her every single day. She was an incredible woman. She is an incredible influence in my life. She is still my strength and my inspiration. She is my hero. And she always will be.Who’s yours?

Cristina Kim
Creator of mybestfriendinni

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