In the Footsteps of Grandma

Maozhe - Austin, Texas
Entered on September 26, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

The olive-brown overcoat emerged from the around the corner, swinging in periodic motion to the rhythmic pounding of heavy boots. It was not an apparition from a bad horror film, but something close, my grandma. Grandma was my advocate, who made me believe in the virtues of acceptance, activism, and service to community, not because she was a role model but my enemy.

As a woman purged in the Cultural Revolution for refusing to sell out her friend, Grandma subscribed to a pessimistic philosophy of life. Having persevered through the years of mutual distrust and turbulence, Grandma shunned the outside world and the defining element of human existence, love. Worst of all, Grandma made sure that her “lessons of life” did not go unheeded.

Therefore when Grandma crash-landed into my world, her “wisdoms” splattered onto my tabula rasa. On the benches or lawn, Grandma would not retell fables of old but lecture on the importance of seclusion and distrust. Thus from childhood, I became a haunting misanthropist, submerged in her sea of hypocrisies.

I remembered vividly my cowering in the back of the classroom to shield myself from the jubilance of fellow students. One day, I furtively watched my eventual “friend” skip to my side to cordially invite me into her social circle. I refused but she persisted until I became intolerant of her incessant pleas; grudgingly, I would sit as a perpetual captive within the circle. Progressively, the exposure to reality, the warmth of human interaction, chipped away Grandma’s grassroots of “evil”.

In my adolescent years, I began to distance myself from Grandma while attacking her anachronistic doctrines. Grandma would have continued to fight on had a thing called Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia not halted her journey through life. Introspectively, I believed that I was too aloof in our heated exchanges to notice the emergence of a frail, old figure from within the ironclad outfit to fetter my enemy to this world. In the end, Grandma won because I never had the final chance to defeat her. However, slowly, I have been able to weaken her Pyrrhic victory.

As the founder of the Mountain View Recreational Project, I have submitted further evidence, demonstrating that dedication to the community and openness to all reap the greatest benefits during our ephemeral journeys. The volunteer hours I spend with these fellow athletes greatly outweigh the struggles and sacrifices because the program helped to define me as a person willing to transcend beyond the realm of familiarity and give meanings to the words of synergy and action. Best of all, the program was key evidence in bashing my Grandma’s erroneous philosophy.

My grandma, my nemesis and my sage, was ultimately the defining element in my life. Though I may never be able to match her experiences, I know I have added on to her legacy by completing the virtues of her character. To this day, her voice resounds within mine and I am proud to call her “姥姥”, granny.