“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”
~Benjamin Disraeli

A hero is a rather necessary thing to have in life. Without a hero, there is no shining example of what you could be. Without someone to raise the standard, and lift your eyes to greater things, you simply trudge along in daily life and never strive to reach a higher ground. All people ought to have heroes, and a great many of them do. I am one of that majority.

I have many heroes: Patrick Henry, Firebrand of the Revolution; Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers; William Wallace, Freedom Fighter of Scotland; Saint Paul; Stonewall Jackson, and the list goes on. However, at the top of the list is a lady, in every sense of the word, who most people have never heard of. She isn’t famous or rich. She isn’t a daring ex-spy or a great author or stateswoman. She is my great-grandmother, and if ever a girl had “the inheritance of a great example” it’s myself.

My great-grandmother has always been the most perfect sample of womanhood that I have ever seen. The genteel stereotype of the “Southern Lady” is personified in her. No indiscretion is ever committed by her; no occasion is too great that she cannot rise to it. She has grace, spunk, intelligence, wit, beauty and a fine sense of humor. She is one of the few 80-year-old ladies that I have ever met who is still radiantly beautiful, glowing from the inside out. She raised and nurtured her five children and was a devoted wife to her late husband for 60 years. Her family is still the focal point of her life, having, as she does, 14 grandchildren and 42 great-grandchildren.

She worked in the Office of the Attorney General as a legal secretary for a number of years, retiring with much honor bestowed on her by her co-workers. She has aspired to excellence in all her endeavors. Having long worked in the field of education alongside her husband (who held a Ph.D.), being well educated has always been a priority for her. Encouraging proper speech and grammar in the younger generation is very important to her, as well as keeping abreast of current events. She has a deep, abiding Christian faith, and is one of the most patient women I know.

I assure you that I do not exaggerate in my description of her, and with that picture in mind, can you wonder that I strive to be like her? She is loved and admired by all who know her, and long remembered by everyone she meets. If I can be half so lovely on the inside alone when I reach her age, I shall be blessed indeed.

Unfortunately, I am afraid that I still have a long way to go. I can never quite imitate the polish and gentility with which she handles every occasion, and indiscretions are still far too common in my world. I haven’t got her patience or her grace, and my “witty” side often turns to cynicism. However, there is hope for me yet. I do share some of her good qualities. I have always admired her love for learning and excellence. She, among others, has motivated my own love for learning and desire for excellence.

I distinctly remember her rewarding us with a quarter for every perfect score we received when we were younger. I always looked forward to the weekly tallying of scores, thinking of the little bag of quarters Grandma always carried. Any achievements I have attained, any awards I have won, have been joyfully shared with her and appreciated by her. A devotion to the Christian faith is, of course, our highest common passion. I am devoted to my immediate and extended family, and look forward to the day when I raise a family of my own. In this way, I can honestly say, she has succeeded in inspiring me. All in all, I think that with a lot of hard work, and a bit of luck (or a push from Providence) I might in time bear some sort of family resemblance to that most wonderful of ladies, my great-grandmother.

This essay was submitted Grace Discher for the December 2010 – HowToSaveMoney.com Scholarship. See and vote on your favorite essays here. From Grace, “being one of 8 children, money is certainly not growing on trees around here :) If I win this scholarship, I will use the funds for books relevant to my area of study, which is Biology – for the purpose of medicinal herbology and holistic health.  I want to take all the wonderful resources God has made available to us and use them to help people improve their overall health!”