She Was My Hero

Don’t read this if you don’t want to cry

My grandmother passed away December 21, 2019.

I am going to tell you about the time she saved my life. It is not my fondest memory of her, just my deepest.

We lived in Hammond, Indiana where winters were cold and icy and snow would pile up deep into the spring. I don’t remember exactly when this happened but it was so cold that giant icicles hung off the edges of the buildings.

It seems almost unthinkable now that little kids walked by themselves down a city street. Granny used to walk me to school but she stopped because she hurt her leg falling through a porch. My mom wasn’t there because she worked the graveyard shift. I didn’t have a dad. Granny picked up the slack. One winter day, I walked home with another kid from class.

We got to the corner where I lived, on a second floor of a two-story apartment building. The icicles hung so low off the building that he grabbed a piece and broke it off. He wielded it like a club. It was thick like a nightstick made of ice. The look on his face became menacing.

He said he wouldn’t start chasing me until the count of ten. If I got in before then, he wouldn’t hit me.

In spite of (or perhaps because of) being chased by someone with a nightstick-thick icicle, I made it to the front door. Two doors between me and safety. I could see my grandmother’s kind, smiling warm face in the window behind them. I just needed to get inside and I’d be safe.

He never got to ten. . . but he swung down on my head anyway. Now that I’m older I ask myself when would he have been satisfied? When I cried? I was already crying. When he saw blood? There was blood. If I stopped moving entirely?

For so long, I was mad at my granny for not opening that door and getting me to safety. I never considered that she had no idea what was going on. That she saw me walking down the street from the window upstairs and missed everything afterwards. How difficult it must have been for her to get down the stairs in the first place.

I never thanked her for coming outside and scaring him away before he really did me in. For getting me up the stairs and comforting me when I was terrified.

She was always there for me throughout my life. I never doubted her love. It was a grandmother’s love when I was little boy, called into duty to be a mother’s love for a second tour while my mother supported us working a graveyard shift.

I loved my granny but I was mad at her. Like a child gets mad.

I’m sorry, Granny. Thank you a million times. Forgive me. I might not be here if not for you. Your deepest memory of me is probably different than mine of yours. Hopefully it was happier. 

 

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