A Real Hero

by Denise Saunders | 5/8/98 5:00am

After almost four years of getting annoyed at every editorial I read in The Dartmouth, either for their lack of content or because the content was extremely offensive or irritating, I have decided that instead of complaining, I'm going to write about something that is important to me. Hopefully, it will make at least one person in our community think.

My mother has recently been bugging me to buy a class ring, to symbolize my four years of work at Dartmouth and my success in completing it. To me, the ring is a waste of money, since I will have my diploma, and I rarely wear jewelry, and I never wear rings. I have had endless discussions with her about it, telling her how expensive they are and how unimportant it is for me, but she has not budged, and is going to buy one for me anyway.

This is a woman who clips coupons and runs to sales, a woman who never buys new clothes or jewelry for herself. She drives the same car we've had for 10 years or so, even though it keeps breaking down. She took on two jobs when I first came to Dartmouth to pay the tuition bill. She got up at five in the morning, drove a school bus all day and then drove a shuttle bus at Southern Connecticut State University until 10 p.m. She missed out on birthday parties and nighttime activities for two years in order to make enough to pay for my tuition and her bills and never complained about it or made me feel guilty. During her lunch hours, she would take my grandmother, who is legally blind and has a heart condition, shopping, to countless doctors appointments and to visit relatives.

When I told her that I wanted to go to Italy for a term, she said, "Great!" She took money out of her savings so that I would have enough money to travel around Italy, when she has never been able to visit Europe or California or anywhere outside of the east coast.

She has a better job now that enables her to come home at four p.m. each day, but she has another full-time job with my grandmother, who is in the hospital right now for a blood clot, after getting a pacemaker and having countless other hospital visits. My grandmother did not get there by ambulance, though, because she had been bounced around in the ambulance the first trip to the hospital and was afraid they would hurt her again. So, my mother physically lifted her down our stairs into the car to drive her to the hospital. "I don't know where I found the strength, Denise," she told me, but I was not surprised that she did. She always finds strength somehow to do everything and to take care of everyone. She is a nurse, a counselor, a house keeper, a house painter, a mechanic, a bus driver and an amazing friend.

I know that a lot of students here think that heroes have to be intellectuals who write books or lawyers or doctors, but to me, heroes are people who take what they have and use it to make this world a little better for all of us. My mom is the greatest example I know of a real hero, she brings a little happiness to every life she touches.

So in a couple of days I'll buy a ring to make her happy, but she is truly the one who deserves a symbol of success. She is proud that I'm graduating from Dartmouth this year, especially since she never went to college. There is no way that I have learned as much at Dartmouth as I have by being the daughter of Mary Sue Saunders, and there is no way that I will ever be able to repay her for the wonderful life I have because of her.