Scrambling into my mom’s red pick-up truck, I immediately cranked up the AC, sweating bullets from running two miles in the sweltering Florida heat during track practice. I had been training to run the mile, but nothing could have trained me for what my mom was about to utter. “Granny passed away this morning.” my mom said, her voice filled with sorrow. Because of those words my view on life changed for the better.
Before I knew it, my family was arriving at the Baptist church for my Granny’s viewing. Prior to that day I had only shed a few tears over her death. It may sound cold, but Granny had not been herself for quite some time. The reason: Alzheimer’s disease. I had already accepted the fact that she would die soon. But when I stepped through the double doors and looked across the pews at the open casket, my tears flowed like the Mississippi River. Calming myself to listen to my Uncle Ralph share memories of his mother, I looked around and saw the usually hard, emotionless faces of my Dad and his siblings break into pieces. Listening, I realized my Granny was a hero to my family and many others.
She did not have the title Doctor, Professor, or President; she didn’t even have her high school diploma. Granny took on many jobs that I could never even imagine one woman handling. As the family’s seamstress, cook, tutor, and even chauffeur, my Granny always made sure her five children excelled in school even though she had only a ninth grade education. Sitting in the pew with a tissue in hand, I learned many facts about her that I had no knowledge of. On top of motherhood, she worked at a cigar factory, a school lunchroom, and on the street as a crossing guard. As a Great Depression survivor, Granny knew how to endure hard times and persevere. She changed many lives during her lifetime and if it weren’t for her I would not be where I stand today.
My Uncle Ralph finished his speech with, “It gives me great joy today because I know she is with the Lord in Heaven.” If there was a dry eye in the sanctuary before Uncle Ralph gave his speech, those eyes were overflowing with tears when he ended. I’m sure they were thinking of a time when Granny touched their own lives because I was too. I believe that people, no matter how famous, strong, or educated they are, can make a difference in the world and influence many to strive to put others needs before their own. My Granny was no doctor, professor, or president, she was just a little, southern-born woman who loved life and made a great impact on many lives.