This I Believe

Andrea - Buda, Texas
Entered on September 8, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: courage

A Tribute to Courage

There are many virtues I look for in a person – kindness, humor, generosity – but if I had to name the most attractive trait, an aspect that makes me look up to someone more than anything else, it would be that which all superheroes share. I believe in courage.

Courage is not sheer recklessness. It is not accepting a dare to smoke a cigarette. Courage is revealing all your feelings to someone you love, even if there’s a risk that they’ll reject you. Courage is going to a college halfway across the country just for the experience. Courage is introducing yourself to someone outside your clique. Courage is facing your biggest fear and turning out wiser for it.

There is one person in my life who has demonstrated more courage than anyone else I know. This amazing person is my 83 year old grandpa, Paw-paw. Paw-paw has always seemed younger than his age. The word “old” just never fit him. Every day, until recently, he would go out on his ranch to feed cows, plow fields, and rake hay. He has enjoyed watching the Wheel of Fortune with my grandma, going to church, and snoozing in his recliner. But I bet you that Paw-paw’s favorite pastime is being in the presence of his wife, his 6 children, his 13 grandchildren, and his 7 great-grand children. He loves us with his entire heart, and we all think he hung the moon.

Perhaps Paw-paw’s heart became so consumed with loving all of us that it forgot to do its other job, which is to pump blood throughout the body. In any case, his heart stopped doing its job properly, and he ended up in the hospital. He faced one of the most daunting surgeries in existence – open heart surgery. My loving, spirited, bright-eyed grandpa needed a quadruple bypass.

When I went to visit him in the hospital, I fought to hold back the tears that wanted to spring from my eyes and betray my encouraging smile. I couldn’t help wondering, “What if this is the last time I see my grandpa, a man who’s been a key icon throughout my life?”

But Paw-paw radiated courage. Instead of voicing his fears, he visited with us about our lives and joked with the nurses. His courage made my heart spill over with love and admiration. Leaving him that night, I knew I had to have courage too. I had to believe he could get through this. But the hardest thing I had to do was to tell myself that even if Paw-paw didn’t make it through the surgery; I would have the courage to go on with life.

But Paw-paw did make it through surgery. It was his faith, spirit, and courage that aided him those days in the hospital. He got through a surgery that should have taken four to six hours in less than two. And mere hours after that, he was back to cracking jokes in the Critical Care Unit. That is what courage is.

So I guess you don’t have to be a superhero to be courageous. My grandpa inspires courage in me. If he can look death in the eye, then I can commit those everyday acts of courageousness that are so important in life.