Each step creaks as a step is taken. The old wooden boards do not disguise the frailty. They reveal the time and the hardship of each step taken in life one by one, slowly, but steadily. I wait patiently because the sounds are all too familiar for my young ears.
Emma has lived a very long life. With four children, living in lower class income, and without a collegiate degree, things have not come easily. Each dime was earned; each slice of bread was deserved. Deserved. Deserved? She has dedicated her life to ensure the happiness of her children and theirs. Emma spent her life walking to places that would only help her excel. The trials and tribulations were pinpointed in every step taken, every mile walked. Pain was no excuse. No excuse was an excuse.
Now, Emma’s steps are few and far between. Her diabetes and arthritis stricken joints have restricted the legs that have gotten her so far in life. Dementia has affected her ability to comprehend certain aspects of life. There is one thing that has not been affected: her smile. Her smile so contagious, that can light up a room. Smiling keeps her going. It frees her of the internal burdens that she is carrying. She’s a fighter, and survivor. The gentleness of holding her hand can make you realize that you can get through anything in life. Through her hands and her smiles, she captures you in an endless rapture of possibility.
Flo and Emma are just alike. Their lives have not been easy; sacrifices have been made. Yet, Flo is also a fighter. The fairness of her skin and profundity of her words do not reveal the age that she carries from day to day. When thinking about Flo, the word “intelligence” always comes to mind. Spiritually and philosophically, she is one of the sharpest women I have ever encountered. Her solutions to problems are never demeaning or hurtful, but rather deep and enchanting. A kiss of her lips on the cheek can relieve all stress and force you to appreciate life and all that you have.
Yet, Flo carries around the heaviness of her lungs. Severe asthma can overcome each breath, forcing her to gasp for air, preventing her from seeing the homeland of her parents and the country of her ancestors.
Having both Emma and Flo as my grandmothers has allowed me to realize that life is precious and should never be taken advantage of. Descending from two strong and extraordinary women has been a great privilege for the past 18 years. The numerous medicines that they take every day are helping but they are not enough to cure them of their burdens.
Science is advancing rapidly and more discoveries are being made. Of course, knowing that I have a chance of inheriting certain traits is likely, but I must keep smiling and remain strong in mind, body, and spirit throughout my journey. It is a goal of mine to help contribute to the science of the future because of cases like my grandmothers’. I believe that human beings will remain strong and diseases will cease to exist in the future.
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