I believe that my mom is a superhero. She doesn’t have superpowers; rather, she has love, compassion, and selflessness: Everything she does is for others. In elementary school, I was often asked who is my hero, and my answer was usually my mother. Yet, it took most of my life to understand why I felt this way.
My mom has an extraordinary capacity for helping others. When my grandpa died, my world fell apart, and my mom’s should have also. I still don’t know where all her strength came from. Yet, she made the funeral arrangements, moved my grandma into our house, and comforted the family all in one motion. As my grandmother began to battle depression and dementia, she was moved to an assisted living, and my mom followed. For four years, my mom spent every free minute at Sunrise, and I often accompanied her.
She learned the name of almost every little old lady and man, and about his or her life, not confining her attention to my grandma.
My mom organized tea parties, played piano-violin duets with me for the residents, and helped with Sunday mass. Throughout this, she still found time to sit and share family photos with my grandma or do her hair.
Even as Alzheimer’s set in, my mother was at her side. In the Alzheimer’s unit, the residents wander around without purpose. It can be a frightening environment, but this did not stop my mom. She still played the piano for them, made crafts, and taught me how to help feed the seniors. Despite not being recognized, she was there for my grandma until the very end, doing the little gestures that counted the most.
But a superhero can never devote her time to just one cause. Soon, more calls for help came: liver disease, heart attack, cancer, and emergency appendectomy. She took each call in stride. Working by her side or just watching her, I saw my mom’s love and dedication. From this, I created my vision of a superhero.
I’ve watched her put her life on hold countless times and spend months at another family’s side. There are days when my mom doesn’t want to go, or all she can do is sleep, sometimes there are unending tears, and yet, she still wants to help. It isn’t always fun and it takes up a great deal of time, but my mom still sees life as good. From her, I have learned that self-sacrifice can bring out the positives in my own life: family, friends, health, and time to play.
Her willingness has taught me to never turn down a cry for help, and now helping is an absolute necessity in my life. My mom is who I aspire to be. I have started my training by working with Special Olympics athletes and volunteering at the hospital. I am just sidekick status now, but I want to be a superhero too.
Right now, my mom is in Chicago staying with my Uncle Mike and family. We lost my cousin in a car crash this summer, and my mom went to provide emotional support. This is what makes her a hero; it may not be exactly what she planned for November, but she is willing to stop her entire life to help wash dishes, babysit, and give hugs. When she gets home, there is a close friend with cancer, a family friend on Hospice, and a homesick college freshman waiting for her. My mom will get a good night sleep and start again the next day, just like the superhero she is.
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