We all know that heroes come in different shapes, sizes and unique forms. The heroes I want to talk about here are particularly special. Everybody has them, whether in stories they are told or people they can meet. They have the power to give comfort without being aware of it. They are inevitably amazing cooks. They spoil you just the right amount. They ground you in the present by building bridges to the past. And, sadly, they easily become invisible to those around them. Can you guess who they are?
That’s right. Our very own grandparents. Caught up in the ever-changing flow of life, dodging catastrophes and reveling in the (clearly) biggest moments of our lives, we tend to forget the very people who shaped our pasts and were themselves running the world at some point. Only when we are in need of what only a grandparent can give do we turn to them. They don’t get upset at us for not talking to them in too long. Instead, they welcome us with open arms and give us all they can. We have so much to learn from them.
Precisely because they are selfless, giving people who care about us, they don’t remind us that all heroes need something themselves. And we are too preoccupied with ourselves to consider what we can do for them. Growing old is perhaps one of the most difficult things to do with pride and positivity. Yet somehow, they manage it and try not to make demands of those younger than them, not wanting to pull us away from “the prime of our lives”.
But spending time with elderly people shouldn’t be seen as a burden. They are so many people’s heroes for a reason. They have so much wisdom to offer and experiences to share. So many smiles and hugs and cuppas to give. Yet we simply don’t make it our priority and often only realise when it’s too late what irreplaceable things we have missed. About 3.5 million elderly people face a life of loneliness according to AgeUK’s 2012 research. Remember that elderly people, whether yours or somebody else’s grandparents, would love to spend time with you. It can be so easy and so rewarding. So why not be a hero for a hero?