There are unrecognized heroes all around us, the doctor who gives up his practice to treat sick children in Africa, the Jehovah witness who keeps on trying till someone needs or wants to hear about god, the kid who stands up for another kid in need, and the businessman that helps feed a homeless man on the street. Anyone who lives as a good person, treats people well, doesn’t judge on appearance, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation are heroes.
I have grown up with real national heroes like Oprah Winfrey and Queen Latifah, imaginary heroes like wonder woman, Shrek, and spider-man, and the heroes around me like Wesley, my kids, my self and my dad. These heroes are the people who have made a positive difference in my life. Heroes are people that think of others with out motive, loving, and non-violent. They strive to make a difference for good, even if they don’t get anything in return. Just like our troops, fire fighters, and police officers. I have many heroes to talk about, but there is only one hero that stands out more than the others, my grandmother.
Evelyn James was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother. She enjoyed her life to the fullest. She was always reading a mystery book, solved puzzles, and crocheting. Evelyn was a very intelligent Woman, she could answer any question that you had, her knowledge always captivated me all the time. When I was a little girl, I remember her telling me about the Dynasty Wars, and the civil war. ‘We will have wars and will always have wars’, she said, ‘history always repeats it’s self’. Then she asked me” why didn’t we learn from this? what have we missed? I tried to answer the question the best that I could but I was only 11 years old and I didn’t like history. She said that time has to return to its same spot; just different people are in it. Then she said “they are stuck.” I laugh, but I now understand what she meant. She always had a story to tell me or asking me question, to make me think. She was compassionate about animals and her garden. Evelyn had a green thumb she absolutely loved plants, she could make any plant grow, and if it was about to die she would nurse that plant until it was healthy to live on its own. She was very expressive, direct, and honest. Everyone loved her that knew her.
She was born in Dayton Oh. On August 11, 1941, she was the only child of Elizabeth and Fredrick Austin. Her child hood was difficult, which greatly affected her life; she told me many stories about what happened to her; when she was a child. The kids would throw rocks, bottles, shoe, and anything that was hard at her, they would bet her up and call her names. This could have made her bitter and angry but she didn’t let that happen. She told me that it made her more determined to be great in her life. Later she traveled to Canada, California, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada, Washington, Spain, and Paris. Those were the places she loved the most out of her life. She has lived in L. A. California; Detroit, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Atlanta and Savannah, Ga.
One of her friends introduced her to a modeling agency; called “Abrams Artist Agency.” there she modeled clothes for different companies, make up, magazines, and advertisement. She modeled for a while and she loved it. But she wasn’t happy; so she did some singing, one day her friend took her to this club where singer would sing before they became known and famous. They would just have fun and pick people to come up and sing with them or dance. But she didn’t get picked in the crowd, her friend did. She told me that was another way for people to find there fame, back then. When she told me about what happened that night she said “I was disappointed, but if I had gotten picked, I would not have had the life that I have lived.” in 1958 she went to a jazz bar where she met Billie Holiday, and in 1961 she met Diana Ross though a friend of hers. Evelyn was a very popular person, magnetic, and adventurous. Evelyn married her husband in 1959; she had one son in 1960. In 1961 she began to work at General Motors, the car company. Evelyn and her family saw Dr. King give his “I have a dream speech” in 1963. In 1965 her husband died from pneumonia. She continued to work and support her son. Her mother died in 1983. Because of her mothers death she decided in 1984 to move to Atlanta, Ga. Her son Stan wanted to go with her; he had needed help raising his daughter. So she changed her life to help her son Stan, my father, raise me.
Evelyn married again in 1986 to a small town lawyer named Willie A. James. In 1988 she went to school to become a family counselor. Evelyn wanted to help people see farther then what they saw so they could make a change for the better. She always said that you have to help people help themselves. Her husband died in 1991, from a hit and run. That same year Evelyn was supposed to graduate and get her degree in counseling. Because of what happened to her husband she was unable to finish. In 1998 she moved to Savannah Ga. Evelyn died in 2002. Listening to her stories about her journey has been inspirational to me. In her last days she admitted to me that maintaining a positive outlook was a continual struggle, but it taught her how to be diligent. She told me to learn not to be afraid, and to not be imprisoned by how serious I think life is. That is the key to being balanced and successful. Then she said ‘thank you’ to me. I said, ‘why are you thanking me’, she said ‘for being my hero’. I looked back at her and smiled, I said, ‘no, thank you’. Evelyn, was my mom, my grandmother, my sister, my bestfriend; she inspired me and others with her sharp wit and generous spirit. She was a true example of a life well lived.
Evelyn helped me learn that we all are heroes, even if it is just for your self. Knowing all of your own pain and being able to stand up, and deal with it makes you a hero already. The little things that we don’t think that helps a person, makes us a hero to them.