Age: 13, Grade: 7
School Name: Middle School 255 Salk School Of Science, New York, NY
Educator: Ling Teo
Category: Personal Essay & Memoir
A Voice of the Past
My grandma was by far the most stubborn person that I’ve met. That’s not really what you’d be expecting to hear about a grandma. But it’s true. My grandma was my quiet supporter, my supporter that supported me throughout her pain. Even though she had strong opinions and a loud personality, she was loving and caring. She was always there for me, and there was always something for me to learn from her ideas. Living near my grandmother gave me the opportunity to build a close relationship with her. She always encouraged me, and what ive taken away from our relationship is how she impacted me, and how important it is to have lived nearby.
My grandma’s name is Betty Ann. She was married, then divorced. Throughout her marriage, she had two wonderful daughters. My grandma is from here, and has spent her whole life here. My grandmother was a glamorous, never out of style person, someone who wasn’t at all afraid to break the ‘fashion’ boundaries. She was so ahead of her time, my mom always tells me. About a decade ago she predicted that neon clothing articles were going to become a trend. She told my mom all about it, and she was right on the dot. She was this popular fashion stylist and director that everybody knew, or has heard of. When I look back at this memory, I think that this job must have been perfect for her, because she could be the real her, directing everyone, and telling everybody what to do. My grandma also styled the magnificent pages and covers of Harper Bazaar magazines. I really wish I was around for her exciting, and fabulous days. I wish she would have taught me even more things, tell me what looks good, and what looks “hideous’. I really wish I had gotten to know that other brilliant side of her.
There were these times when my mom told me about my grandma, that made me laugh. She once told me that she believed that if she hung on a bar, it would make her taller. She was only 5’3”, but It’s not like she was competing against my family, my dad and my mom are average height. If she were still alive, I would be a little bit taller than her. Furthermore, just a few days ago, my mom and I were walking by a shoe shop, and she was telling me all about how my grandma always told her to walk gently on her feet. Even though she was a more of a heavyset person, she was a ballerina with her feet. She wanted to take good care of her shoes, and she didn’t want my mom to have big feet, even though mine are almost twice the size of hers.
One of the moments that made the biggest impact on me was when I found out that my grandma was diagnosed with cancer. My strong, confident, stubborn, and loving grandma had gotten a life threatening disease.
Everything I thought would just stay the same, changed in just a few words. “Grandma has cancer.” My parents said, in perfect unison. I remember the sprint to my bedroom, the slam of the door, and the fulfilling feeling of comfort and love from my teddy bear.
That was when my life hit a sudden shock of reality, and when my life changed. This was so significant because I found out that the loving person who I didn’t get to spend enough time with was being slowly taken out of my life.
Months had gone by, and I remember the time I was about to find out that my grandmother and I were finally going to do something “big” together, for one of the last times. This was when I was reminded of my grandmothers stubbornness. Something that I was going to miss, when she was gone.
I heard a powerful knock on the door. I sprinted to the door to see my tired, worn down grandma at the door. You could see the level of exhaustion through the thickness of her eye bags. I asked her how she was feeling and she told me that she was doing fine. All those times I asked her how she was doing, I should’ve known that deep down she was full of anxiety, disappointment, scarceness, and sadness. That she was full of pain.
She walked in and I remember seeing this musty brown cane. She was always telling me that she wanted me to decorate it, and to possibly wrap string around it or put colorful stickers on it. She walked in slowly, and I felt bad when she had to squat down, and fall back on the couch, and let out a big sigh. We finished dinner, and I tell my grandma that my dad and I are leaving for my tennis tournament out in Alley Pond, Queens. “I’m coming.” my grandma replied sternly. This made me feel so amazing because I knew that no matter how much pain she was in, or how much her body needed to rest, she was still my number one supporter. She was always telling me that she wanted to see me play tennis, because for the last 3 years my dad has been ranting to everybody about how I’ve improved. After that, my mom raised her voice and said that it’s 90 degrees out, thinking that was her winning argument. “I’m coming.” She then repeated. This also meant something to me because I still remember her stubbornness and this is just a sweet memory of what I remember of her, and what I will never forget, and this is where I get my stubbornness from. I just stood there in shock because I knew she was stubborn, but this just reminded me simply, of me. She always wanted to do things with me. She always said, “We’re going to do something big”, like go to the US open, or go to a concert. But as time went by slowly, her getting more sick and tired, there was a lesser chance of us fulfilling that wish. Though her going to my tennis tournament was way more important to me than anything else. Also this meant a lot to me because she always supported my passions, my passion for tennis.
As soon as we got to the box office in Alley Pond, I was anxious because I spotted my opponent. She towered over me, and looked as if she were 16. But I didn’t know for sure. “Stop worrying yourself.” my dad said. The longest, most dreadful 20 minutes of my life went by and no one else had walked in. I got up in fear as the woman at the desk walked over. My dad looked nervous, but my grandma looked confident, and casually whispered,“You can beat her”.
I felt like I was glowing, and my cheeks were a bit red because her opinion mattered the most to me. As I got up, and started walking towards the door, her scent lingered with me, knowing that I have to savor moments like these, and it makes me look back over the years we have spent together. I take the tennis balls out of her hand, and we leave to the tennis courts.
It feels like it’s been a whole day, that my match has lasted. I walked up to the front desk, strutting confidently, waiting for a response from the lady at the desk. The woman at the desk looked up and I said,“Hi.” ,
“What’s the score?” she said. “6-1 6-0, me.” she looked down, nodded her head, like she was surprised. I remember both my grandma and my dad’s faces when they looked up at me like they were going to let out a tear, but not going to let it escape. It felt like a perfect summer rain, when all of their complements rained down on me. They definitely had more to say, but their faces said it all.
A few months had gone by, when I knew my grandmother’s life was coming to an end. My eyes swelled up with tears, as I said, “I’m going to go to the hospital to say goodbye.” Even though it was a school day, I wasn’t going to miss this for the world.
We arrived at the hospital, the white walls, rushed doctors, brightly lit hallways, and the silence was making me cringe. She laid still on the hospital bed. Looking away, with tubes coming out of her nose. This just came as a sudden shock, I just realized that the little time I had with her was ending. That the times yelling at the waiters at le pain quotidien, going shoe shopping, or going to museums, would end. The doctor’s voice trembled as she told me that she couldn’t move or talk. But she could hear. I could tell that she knew I was there. I slowly walked over to her bedside. She started shaking. I stood still, as still as a statue, as a river streamed down my broken exterior. I bent down so my lips were close to her ears. I whisper, “I know that you love me, so don’t waste energy trying to speak, and you know that I love you.” she lays still now. She could hear me. “I love you grandma, goodbye.” I stand up tall, wipe my tears away, and walked out the door. Those were my exact words. The rain outside turned into a thunderstorm inside me.
A few weeks after she died, I looked through her sunglasses. I started to laugh and cry at the same time. This was so special to me because her sunglasses were a part of her, and the sunglasses she wore represented a part of her. They made me smile because she would wear these huge colorful framed sunglasses that covered up the most of her petite face. As I rummaged through the bin I was thinking if I could ever pull them off, or if anyone else could, but no one will rock them as much as her.
More time had gone by, and At my grandmother’s memorial I met a room full of people telling stories about my grandma. Some made me laugh, some made me cry. I stood up in front of the whole room, and I told stories about our trips to le pain quotidien, and the impact she made on my life.
I really wish I had gotten to spend more time with her. I was stupid thinking that sometimes I didnt want to see her, or that my friends were better to hang out with. I think that it was just to hard for me to see her go through all this pain, even though it was much harder for her. My grandma was a determined and stubborn person. She had a larger than life personality. She had a big impact on my life. She always encouraged me, and inspired me to push myself. The fact that she lived nearby, and we spent a lot of time together was meaningful to me. If you live near your grandparents be sure to make the effort to see them on a regular basis. Don’t take for granted that they will always be there.
Grandma, when you were taken from me, I felt like there was something in my heart that was missing. But everything you taught me will always be an important part of who I am. I will never forget you.
This is for you.