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A Strong Bandaged Heart

A hero may be a stalwart powerful individual combating with fierce monsters or completing heroic quests. A hero may also be your typical human being doing good deeds everyday one at a time. My hero is one with a loving bandaged heart. She has lost several important people in her lifetime, yet she is still willing to love, give and provide hospitality to whoever is in need. My hero is a generous, strong-hearted woman that will always be there for her loved ones; my hero is my great-grandma.

Helen Senesac was born September 2, 1919. She was the youngest of four shared with her twin brother. She was a farm girl, born and raised in Fowler, Indiana (near Lafayette). Helen spoke of her childhood growing up: “…I was a tomboy growing up. I would rather go out and ride a horse bareback than stay in the house listening to the radio as my sister did but of course she ended up working in radio.” “I was shy as a child and through the years I am more out going but I still care about what people think and try to please everyone. I was always [a] little quiet but even that has changed some.” “I liked to help people that were more or less left out. I never wanted to hurt anyone’s feeling.” She was and has always been a bighearted, generous person that was always putting other people before herself.
When Helen was 13, her mom passed away. She described her death as a great loss. Her grandparents passed away the same year, which only made it harder for Helen. Her dad worked full time, so she had to fight through the heart break and run the house showing how courageous she was.
She was a diminutive framed attractive woman with sleek, shiny brown hair growing up through school. When she graduated from high school, she went to Saint Mary’s of the Woods College. Going to college was very rare back in the 1930’s in particular for a female. She did well in school, but had to stop early her junior year because of surgery. Her doctor suggested her to take a break for a while to recover from surgery. She also started a dreadful smoking habit in the summer of 1939 because she ‘had a lot of time on her hands and it was something to do’. However, there was some good that came out of the situation because she met my great grandfather, Elmer, and married him the following year and guess what occupation Elmer had? You guessed it; he was a farmer.
She and Elmer had four kids, Ron, Ken, Ann, and John, the youngest being my grandpa. She had a great deal of work to do, being the farmer’s wife including canning, feeding animals, and just helping out. Many years later, her only brother and sister-in-laws (Elmer’s only brother and his brother’s wife) both died of heart attacks within a year. They had seven kids, three of which were still in school. Two of the kids went to live with one of the older sisters to finish school. The last kid, Terry, was a freshman in high school and had nowhere to go. My great-grandparents took him in to finish high school. This was very brave of Helen because she had to deal with a high school student who needed moral support. In 1981, one of her beloved sons, Ken, died in a car accident at the age of 39. This was a heartbreaking loss for her because of how sudden and tragic the situation was. After the loss, she was always there to help with Ken’s four kids, whose ages ranged from 11 to 15. She provided moral support for the kids and hospitality and comfort whenever they needed it; she was always willing to help.
Sixteen years after Ken died, another son of hers, Ron, died of a heart attack. Ron had many unfortunate experiences with his jobs. Grandma was always there for him willing to help when he needed it especially during the tough times. This just showed how much she loved him and made the death of her second son very gruesome.
In the later years, my great-grandma took care of Elmer when he wasn’t able to get around very good. She endured a slight stroke and overcame it in order to still take care of great-grandpa. Despite her efforts of taking care of him, he went to a nursing home. My great-grandpa Elmer was in a nursing home for two years, and Helen saw him every single day of those two years. My great-grandpa loved grapefruit and Helen knew that. She brought him grapefruit so much, that it turned into a joke that she shouldn’t bother coming unless she brought some grapefruit. He died in April of 2000, which was the third person close to her that died in less than twenty years. When talking about all the people that she has lost she said, “…you [just] accept what God sends you.” This shows just how strong-hearted this woman is and how her faith has helped her tremendously through life.
Today, she is 90 years old and revealed the secret to her longevity, even with her nicotine addiction: “I think that you have to be happy, enjoy being alive, look at the bright side of life, don't worry about things that you can't do anything about and don't complain”.

Helen is considered a hero because of her supernatural heroic traits. She is a courageous, strong-hearted, generous, hospitable superhuman. She has shown many examples of these character traits throughout her lifetime. Her strong-heartedness was displayed when fighting through her loved ones’ deaths and supporting her family. Many people’s hearts cannot survive that, but she did. She showed courage when choosing to go on with her life after a profusion of dilemmas affected her life. She could have been weak and given up on herself many times, but chose to live on. The last and most valued trait of Helen is her generosity. It has shown countless times throughout her life from her childhood to today. She always put others before herself which is a very important value that many people lack. Her generosity is liked to her hospitable trait. She was willing to help her nephew Terry when he needed her most, and was also willing to help with Ken’s kids. Helen never turned away loved ones in need.
My great-grandma is very similar to Odysseus from the epic poem The Odyssey written by Homer. They are both very courageous people who fought through harsh times and endured the death of their beloveds; nevertheless, they both chose to go on with life, not give up and were/will be rewarded for their struggles (reunited with family at home/in heaven). Like a brave forlorn lion cub abandoned in the wild, he fights for his survival despite the obstacles that come his way; rewarded for the barriers he has faced, the cub finds a new kin to love and support. Another similarity they share is their courageousness. They both fought courageously through tough situations through the thick and thin. Neither of them complained and always worked hard through their tough predicaments all while being optimistic. They are very similar heroes that have superior character traits that we should all value and follow example.
Helen is a brave, heroic woman that will be cherished in my memory forever. She is generous and giving from the bottom of her heart. “I admire my mother-in-law and I hope to handle and overcome any adversities that come my way in the future like she did.” –Linda (wife of John, Helen’s son) In a world where the term hero is far too often given rather than earned, my great-grandma breaks the mold of pop culture heroes. On the hero meter she out drives Tiger, out shoots Michael, and out raps T-pain. A hero should inspire, motivate, and steer you through life. With my great-grandma I have a living guardian angel at the wheel.





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mands said...
Jan. 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm
Wonderfully written! I love the ending!
 
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