An Open Letter to My Grandmother,
When I was a little girl, many of my role models started with the matriarchal figures I had in my life. There was my mother; the strong, hard-working woman who taught me that family comes first and that she would always be there for me to fall back on in my pursuit of success. Then, there was my mother’s mother – the woman that took the risk and brought her entire family across the Atlantic, to a country full of possibilities they wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of if they had stayed in their native country of Poland.
Then it was you; my father’s mother. You had always been a woman I’d admired for your take-no-BS attitude, your ability to crack a joke no matter the situation, how you refused to compromise your values for any man or woman, and the way you supported and loved your children and grandchildren with a ferocity only comparable to a lioness. You were, in many ways, very similar to my mother and her mother; all of you grew up knowing family comes first, and I’m so thankful that’s something instilled in me now as a young woman.
I was always very close to my mother’s side of the family; they lived only two hours away. But my father’s side of the family was further away, and my grandmother was even further; you were based in Jacksonville, Florida, and as we both got older, life got in the way of seeing each other as much as I would’ve liked.
Still, though, I always looked forward to visiting you – obviously, a vacation to Florida would excite any 12-year-old. But it was more than that – I loved the stories you told me, the memories you shared, and how loved I always felt in your presence. You told me all the time how proud you were of me, and how much you loved me, but as a teenager– I didn’t really appreciate what that truly meant from a woman that had done so much in life.
There was a time in my teenage years that I didn’t see or speak to you nearly as much as I should. My parents were divorcing for most of my teenage years, and I had a lot of anger in that time, and the tension with my parents caused me to neglect relationships with other people that had nothing to do with the conflict. But, when I reconnected with my dad and subsequently you, I realized how much I had missed out on. And I tried my very best to make up lost time with you; every time I was in Florida, I went to see you.
On one of the last times I saw you, we spent hours together, talking about our lives, old stories, and exchanging gifts and memories. I think that’s probably one of my favorite memories we have together. I can only hope and pray I made up for that time I lost with you in these last few years since I’ve reconnected with you.
Grandma, I hope I can live up to the legacy you’ve left for me. If I’m half the smart, kind, capable person you were, I think I’ll have made you proud. You always wanted to be laid to rest at the ocean; now, every time I’m by the water I’ll remember you and remember you’re looking down on me too, missing you the whole time.