Enjoying a delicious, ice-cold root beer float became a beloved tradition between my grandmother, myself, and my older brother from the time I was very young. For us, drinking this small, sugary drink gave us an excuse to catch up on life, to laugh hysterically, and to simply appreciate one another’s presence. However, now that my brother and I have both begun college, our famed root beer float dates with our grandma have become sparser than any of us would like.
As many college students can attest to –– especially those who have strayed far from home for school, like me –– it can be incredibly difficult to be away from family for such an extended period of time. Homesickness is something that can fly under the radar, somewhat ignored, as we (speed) walk from class to class and fill our G-Cals with an exorbitant amount of meetings. Thus, I’d like to take this opportunity to enjoy a virtual root beer float with any of you who may be missing home right now, and, of course, with my grandmother. This, then, is an ode to my grandmother –– and to the strong women like her. Cheers!
If you ask anyone to describe my grandmother, there is one common word among their characterizations: strong. Having grown up during a time in which women were expected to be homemakers and wives, my grandmother was one of the first women in her family to graduate from college. She worked as an educator for more than 40 years. She raised two children during multiple financial crises. And she actively stands up to people in her life with a witty sarcasm that’s unparalleled. Now, she’s fighting breast cancer –– like the warrior she is –– proving once again that she’s among the most fierce, powerful women I know.
My grandmother’s incredible resilience and grit is something that she passed down to my mom, who is a small-business owner and fierce in Silicon Valley –– and it’s something that I try to embody every day. Though it may sound cliche, she has truly taught me that it’s never too late to try a new activity or to get something done. In fact, after having to take a break from undergrad to raise her two kids, my grandma returned to college to finish her degree when she was in her 40’s. And, even today, she involves herself in a slew of new activities –– from yoga to sewing to baking — that fulfills her love for learning and demonstrates her admirable curiosity about the world.
Aside from her commendable tenacity, my grandma is perhaps most well-known for her kindness and overwhelming love for those around her –– traits that my mother also received from her, and ones that I hope to manifest, too. Whether it be patching up a tear in someone’s new pair of jeans, bringing a plate of homemade desserts to our house around the holidays, or writing the most heartfelt notes to her friends and family, my grandmother is perhaps the most thoughtful, compassionate person I know. Given everything she’s gone through –– and continues to endure –– I find this reality to be incredibly impressive. My grandmother is ultimately multifaceted in the best way: she’s both overtly tough and genuinely warm. And, if everyone tried to be a bit more like her, I truly believe that the world would be a better place.
Though life can become immensely hectic in college, I believe that it’s important to set aside time to recognize and celebrate the individuals –– especially the strong women –– in our lives who’ve helped mold us into the people we are today. My grandmother isn’t the only wonderful woman who’s had a considerable impact on me: my mom, my aunt, my friends, my teammates, and my peers have all shown me the value of being courageous, caring, and, above all else, true. Thus, as we near the end of the school year, I implore you to tell someone you love and admire just that; and, for those of you who may be feeling a twinge of homesickness as we count down the days until summer, this might help! Don’t worry: I’ll go first.
Having lived through the height of the 60’s, my grandmother’s all-time favorite musical group is, perhaps unsurprisingly, The Beatles. Personally, I think a famous song by this legendary band is a fitting representation of her: “Here Comes the Sun.” My grandma –– and the powerful, fearless women like her –– are pure sunshine. To my Nana: if you’re reading this … I love you endlessly, and I can’t wait to make a root beer float with you very soon!