My grandma was owed a better life than the one that was handed to her. According to my mom, she was a survivor, a fighter, and the most beautiful women. She radiated class, elegance, and poise. She made my mom feel so loved and cared for. I feel that she is becoming a very, if not the most influential person of my childhood, but of my entire life so far.
My mom and grandparents lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with not much space to do anything really. My mom being an only child really had no choice but to be really close with her parents, especially her mom, so her only source of human interaction was going to the hotel that grandma worked whenever she had down time from school. My grandma was her best friend – they did everything together. While they didn’t always get along, she never felt safer and more loved than when she was in her presence.
When I was 13 years old, my mom finally told me about how my grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer and eventually died of it. My grandma had never smoked a day in her life. Like ever. She was the healthiest person my mother knew. My mom told me that she didn’t get to spend any time with her before she died. At the time of my grandma’s diagnosis, my mom was 21 with two babies chasing around my deadbeat father, trying to find a place of her own to stay and a job in Indiana, a state, she was not comfortable in, but she moved there so that my sister and I could have a better life. Looking back, she wishes she hadn’t taken advantage of that time.
How could this happen? My grandma was just fine when she left and she was so good to herself, and to everybody by giving everything to make everybody else comfortable, and had been sentenced to death by contracting this disease. The doctors attempted to help her but there was not much they could do and eventually she was completely attacked by this cancer. I still have to shift the blame somewhere and sometimes I blame my grandma. Why did she have to work in those asbestos filled room? Why did she work in that filthy hotel?
It’s been 18 years since my grandma has passed and I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t hurt. Every day I think about her and everything she had to experience through alone. She worked so hard cleaning hotel rooms and scrubbing toilets to give my family the life we have now. Grief comes randomly, and always linger for at least a couple of days, but she never leaves my thoughts. I wish I could have met her and experienced her beautiful, joyful presence in person and didn’t have to make up what I think she would be in my head. She encouraged me to do what I love doing, and I wouldn’t be a fraction of the person I am now if it wasn’t for her because I know my grandma is here with me, and I know she is proud and will be proud of what I’ve done and what I will do in the future, even when I’m not.