By Betsy Ashton
July is a great month to remember and salute heroes in our society. We use the Fourth to celebrate America's birth. We honor our troops throughout the year. We have parades at other holidays for our veterans. No one marches for the heroes I have in mind. They fly under the radar screen. They deserve recognition.
My heroes are those grandparents and great-grandparents who have stepped out of retirement and back into full- or part-time child raising. At a time when their peers are doing crossword puzzles, these men and women are doing homework. These are the folks who opened their hearts and homes to grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Some of the kids are caught in abusive prior home environments. Some are trapped between warring parents who use them in a game of tug-of-war. Some have parents who are drug addicts, alcoholics or are incarcerated. None of them deserve anything but a supportive, loving environment to grow healthy minds and bodies.
I've been lucky enough to sit in with support groups who struggle with balancing their needs with those of their grands. One woman had ten, that's right, ten grands and great-grands in house. At nearly seventy, she's the only responsible adult to help. Another has her in-laws living next door and three pre-school grands in her house. Her husband works 60 hours a week. She cares for her in-laws who need to be in assisted living but no money to pay for it. Her grands came to courtesy for the US military. Both parents are deployed overseas. She has the grands. Like an AA member, she takes one day at a time.
These heroes are tired. Bone-weary tired, yet I've not heard one complain. They do what they have to do. They get up everyday and cope with the uncope-able.
I wrote about these heroes in my novel, Mad Max Unintended Consequences. One of my personal unintended consequences was meeting these heroes, getting to know their issues, standing by them in spirit.
Not all heroes wear uniforms. Mine wear spit-up, baby food, grass stains. Next time you meet one of these heroes, recognize what they do. Maybe give them a bit of respite by staying with the kids on afternoon a month. Take the grandmom out for a hair cut. Take the granddad out for a round of golf. Let them have date night and a movie by sitting one evening. You'll feel better. You'll never how much such small gestures mean.
All hail my silent heroes.