“You see this one here? That’s my brother and I at our farm in Idaho when I was six,” my grandmother said pointing to the picture of her and a young boy with bright smiles tinged with fear and pain.
She smiled at me as a tear ran down her cheek, saying, “Honey, this right here is why your father made you so dedicated to school. My stepfather was a cruel man. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend what can move a man to beat a three year old until she pees herself, rub her face in it, and then beat her again. This horrendous excuse of a human being beat me from the time I was three until I was seventeen. I knew college would not be an option for me, so the hell I lived through at home drove me to win a beauty pageant that would have sent me to California. When that man would not let me leave I ran off and married your father’s dad in a feeble attempt to run away and protect myself.”
My eyes began to brim with tears as the sides of her mouth turned into a bitter sweet smile full of disgust and knowledge.
“Well, and you know how that went. Your grandfather left me with two children, no money, and no place to stay, while he played with other women. He emotionally scarred your father and aunt to the point where I feel no pity on that man,” she continued gravely. “But I met my new husband, your grandpa John, and he came through for me. He set me up with a stable job, home, and love for me and my children. I married him, and for the first time in my life I truly felt unconditionally loved. He graduated from MIT one of the top of his class. He was so bright. Who on Earth would have thought such a magnificent man would end up with dementia, unable to walk, to talk, and to control his bladder.”
“Honey, if I can’t teach you anything else, please just know you can do whatever you want to do, but you make sure that comes after college. You don’t need to rely on any man. Just make sure you stay true to your path,” she declared, kissing the top of my head.
I have grown to discover the value of dedication and breaking barriers. While women have been viewed to depend on a man in the past, my grandmother’s sole story alone demonstrates the necessity of hard work and fighting against what “boundaries” exist. No tragedy or roadblock is too much of an inconvenience to better oneself. Passion does not come from the heart, but from experience and dedication that can be acquired at any given age.
Throughout my short life, I have already learned the most important lesson taught in someone’s lifetime. Perseverance is a choice, not an opportunity. Life is full of obstacles that can only be overcome through passion, dedication, hard work, and drive. My leadership capabilities come only from the sorrow and hard times my grandmother had to undergo. My outgoing, optimistic, and helpful attitude would not, and could not, exist without a real life lesson to learn from.
My grandmother’s heartfelt conversation with me created the dedication I used when I performed at the Orange County Fair. While the difficulty of the songs performed was far above my skillset, I never once had the negative attitude or felt demolished by the challenge. I faced the challenge head on with support from my friends, my family, and my own mental goals. Many people tried…