December 17, 2009
Heroes can be people who are incredibly strong or fly, or they can simply be a person who has plenty of courage and a kind heart. Odysseus never quit trying to get home, just like Barbara Thaman has never stopped tying to recover. Barbara Thaman is my grandmother. She has sparkly grey hair, caring brown eyes, and a smile that brightens the room. My grandma has faced countless obstacles in the past fourteen years, but she has stayed optimistic and cheerful; for this she is a real hero.

Since her aneurysm in 1995, she has been in a wheelchair and little tasks have become incredibly difficult. It all started when she passed out at home and was taken to the hospital. No one knew what was wrong, so the doctor took some x-rays. That’s when the doctors found the aneurysm in her brain. An aneurysm is a fragile part in the wall of an artery that brings blood to the brain. My grandmother had surgery to remove the aneurysm, but soon after she had a stroke. She was in a coma for five brutal long weeks. The doctors told my grandpa that it was not looking good because they wondered if she would ever wake up.

When she finally did come back to us, my grandma could not remember anything for a long time. As the weeks passed, our family members went to Arizona to support her as much as they could, “people were so sweet to me” she said. My grandma recalled her daughter, Jennifer, coming in to see her everyday. She had a calendar on the wall and she would say “Hey mom today is Tuesday. Mom just remember today is Tuesday.”

While in therapy, my grandma said it was very hard to stay motivated. The stroke had left her able to do very little. Walking, reading, simple math, and using her left hand were suddenly her biggest obstacles. “Sometimes I would just get so depressed” she remembered. She never gave up, and began to get better. With the help of her husband, Leo, she learned to read and subtract again. Soon she was able to walk short distances and her memories began to come back. “It frustrates me so much” she says referring to all of the troubles she faces now that were not a problem before. “Its hard to read a book because I cannot keep it open to read. It’s hard not being able to use my hand.”

Walking was one of the hardest things for my grandma to relearn. “I don’t want to fall. My balance isn’t very good now. That’s my biggest fear.” But once she did fall, and broke her shoulder. Even though it scares her my grandma continues to try. “Leo and I go on short walks a lot, trying to get a little further.” My grandma never forgets to tell me how much she appreciates all the help she gets from her family and friends. Leo is her hero she says “fifteen years he has done everything to take care of me.”

My grandma has never given up hope in herself; therefore, she has been able to overcome what some people thought was the impossible. Although she was going through extremely tough times, there was always a warm smile on her kind face. My grandma never gave up when all the odds were against her. Because of her strength and love, my grandma will always be my hero.

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