A grandmother's every-day struggles make her a hero

By Susan Burns
Brandon, Manitoba

My grandma was born Patricia Joyce Goldstone on March 24 , 1928. By no means is she famous, and most people will never meet her. But she is a hero to me and I will tell you why.

She was born poor, and lived with eleven siblings on 149-9th Street. Because they had no money to spare, grandma and my great aunts and uncles had to walk nearly everywhere, and on occasion would hitch a ride home with a family friend.

Until she got married , my grandma lived in the same house all of her youth. When she was twenty-five, she wed Mervin Cruse. Together they moved to Minto and built a home with the little money they had. She there gave birth to my mom, Laurie, and helped out on the small farm that they could afford. When my mom was the age of three, her parents moved back to Brandon and settled on 26th Street. Later on that year, my grandma gave birth to twins: my Uncle Stuart and Auntie Erin.

My grandfather, Merv, worked long hours at a menswear shop, as my grandma was working too at various shops (never more than one job at a time) to try to keep a good income.

My mom and her siblings grew up well-fed, clothed and happy, but less-than-perfect circumstances came between grandma and her husband, and they came to live separately. Grandma moved herself and her nearly-grown children to 623 - 12th Street, where she still lives presently. By then she was a lot more comfortable, financially speaking.

By the time that my mom got married in 1978 (to my dad, Tom Burns), her father had sadly passed on due to heart problems. Then, my grandma really was on her own. Not to worry, as she had a steady job, and no young children to look after.

When the last of her children left home, grandma pretty much had it all, and as she was soon nearing retirement age, she found herself picking up hobbies and more time on her hands.

Then I was born. Oh, this wasn't bad or anything. It's just the time on her hands became baby Susan on her hands. Both of my parents worked full time and didn't want to send me to a daycare, so grandma came and looked after me every day until I was ready to go to school. When summer break came around each year, I was too young to watch myself, so grandma had some company for two months. Even now, I will still rise early to spend time on 12th Street in July
and August.

My grandma, in the past decade, has discovered another roadblock: a disorder called Trigeminal Neuralgia . This effects the nerve endings in her face, and as she describes it, "It feels like a thousand knives in my face." It comes in "spells", as my family calls it. It will be fine for months, and suddenly start up for a few weeks. When she has a spell, it's touch and go: one minute she'll be fine, the next, she'll have to stop what she's doing. The wind hurts her face, as does bending over, wearing glasses and things like that. But grandma is determined not to let things pass her by, and she keeps on, even though her face hurts. It pains me to see her go through this, and I can't possibly imagine how it hurts her.

So you see, my grandma did not save anyone's life, but she is my hero and role model too, because she always has made the best of a poor situation and will do anything to live life to its fullest.