Define Hero

December 26, 2008
By Taren keith, FRUITPORT, MI

Define hero. Was your first thought someone tall and handsome? Or someone who flies around the world in a cape that billows in the wind? These are the first things that surface your mind when you think of a hero. Now think about these descriptions. Glasses wearing, balding, senior citizen. Not exactly the handsome hero you were imagining, was it? These words describe Jim Stevens, the first person that comes into my mind when I here the word hero.

My grandfather, Jim, is not your average hero. He doesn’t wear big boots or have catchphrases; he is so much better and genuine than that. Grandpa is a retired minister that has touched many lives already through prayer and the help of God. He has taught me a great deal of things, from manners to life lessons. This man who has done so much good in this world and continues to help others, including me.

When I was little he would “trick” me into learning. My family and I would visit him and my grandmother often. My grandfather would sit on the porch watching my sister and I play house or dolls, smiling at our giggling fits. Whenever one of us would run by him he would capture us with is strong legs and not let us go until we said please. We could pound on his legs with all our might but he wouldn’t budge without a simple six-letter word. This fun game filled hours of amusement for my siblings and me. Grandpa taught me to say please.

Have you ever heard of a candy bar dipped in pizza sauce and pepperoni? I have. I was also given the joy of seeing this strange concoction made and eaten. Grandpa took my grandmother, cousin, sister and I to the beach for a picnic. He always liked to laugh and even better to make us laugh. All of our stomachs were full but grandpa made room for this special concoction. We all laughed and laughed as he ate every last bite smiling as he finished this dessert. Grandpa taught me to make ordinary moments fun.

Most family reunions are dull but not ours, grandpa made sure of that. Usually at family reunions we have a big cake with lots of frosting, and always in the middle of these cakes we would see a finger hole. When there was a finger hole found in any dessert we would always know whom the culprit was, grandpa! We would always jump up and down at his feet interrogating him on why he ate our cakes before the party even started. He would only smile and lick his lips and say, “ It looked so good. I just had to try some. Chocolate is my weakness”. This required us kids to find cake-hiding spots throughout our cottage. After the desserts were hidden he would snoop around for them making us smile when he “didn’t” see the cake right in front of him. Grandpa taught me the best cake hiding spots.

Years later a tragedy hit our family hard. We found at my grandma had cancer. Grandpa was upset though he never showed it. His many years of preaching helped him. After a few months we lost grandma. It was a sad year. Grandpa remained strong through the whole thing and knew that everything was going to be all right. He would see here again some day in heaven. Grandpa taught me that goodbye isn’t forever.

I was reading a book that was a little advanced for me and raised questions about my religion. Grandpa and his years as a minister helped me. He answered all my questions with good answers that made sense to a twelve year-old girl. Never once did he laugh at my absence of knowledge or groan at how late I was asking these questions. Grandpa taught me about my religion and faith.

I was now in my teens and held my positions and opinions highly. One day I was talking about global warming and how it is hurting the environment and grandpa joins the conversation…against me! He said global warming was occurring and the temperature will right itself in a few years. We discussed this for a long time and my family was getting bored. In the end we stopped “debate” because we were late going to the beach. After all of the science and study into climate control grandpa still wouldn’t believe. Grandpa taught me to have my own opinion despite what other people are saying.

I’m still in my teens and still have a lot to learn in life. Grandpa has taught me so many good lessons that I need. He taught me so much I couldn’t write it all down, so I had to compromise with my strongest memories. All of these memories that you know and don’t know lead to the two lessons in life I think he wants everyone to know is, Faith no matter what comes first and family always comes second.
Grandpa is a retired minister and preached is whole life that Faith is everything but he sent the second lesson in hidden messages. All the crazy food choices and hardships in life were to do with family. He wanted his family to be strong through a crisis so he was strong. He wanted us to be well mannered so our family could function nicely. He wanted his family to be loved and to be happy so he did his fun quirks for our enjoyment. Family comes first.
I ask you again to define a hero. Please take a long time to think about this. Think about someone who has changed your life or taught you a lesson in some way. Capes, boots, and catchphrases are only a gimmick to please audiences, but they don’t last. Real heroes leave a mark on your soul, not a mark on a comic book. I don’t know about you but I would rather have an old, balding hero than a fictional one any day.

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