Grandma was a trail blazer. She did, said, and wore what she wanted to. If you didn’t like it she’d say “Kiss my dupa!” (Polish for butt) She was confident in herself! She didn’t care what anyone else thought! She was an eccentric, fun, unique, extraordinary grandma. Everybody loved grandma and her fun-loving, bubbly personality and fun clothes. Gram would often wear overalls and a denim hat. She didn’t care about society’s age bias, or being picked on by most of the family about wearing overalls. She knew she was cute in them and she worked those overalls! That’s one reason gram is my hero. She inspired me to dance to my own tune and make my own fashion statements that make me stand out! 

 My grandma completely won my heart when I was 10 and she gave me a journal. In the front cover, she wrote “Write down all your thoughts here, so you can remember them when you’re famous”. My grandma believed in me more than I did. She meant every encouraging word she said. She always said “You can do anything you wanna do, if you wanna do it badly enough. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. But, you can do it! You are worth it!” 
Grandma made me better. She made me want to be a better person and because of her, I am. I can’t say I’m a different person. I’m the person I was meant to be before I was thrown off the path by childhood abuse, molestation, rape, and other things that caused my self-worth to plummet and do foolish things like drugs. 

Grandma quit smoking when she was in her 40’s. When I was in my 20’s she told me if I quit smoking for a year, she’d take me on a cruise. In November 2004, one of my greatest life adventures was that Eastern Caribbean Carnival Ship with my grandma! We went to the Bahamas, we snorkeled at Trunk Bay in St. John’s and we had a ton of adventures all over the world. To this day, I haven’t had another cigarette! It was because of that time that I spent with grandma on that cruise that I made the decision to leave my abusive ex. It made me want to change my entire life. It was a taste of how great my life could be. 

My brother, Will, and my sister, JennyRose, and I talk about my grandma whenever we are together. (It’d be several times a week, but I live in California and they live in Pennsylvania.) “Grandma made her own savings bonds” I told my family at Christmas in 2017. In 2001, gram gave us all an ornament she made to put on our respective Christmas trees. She wrote the date on the back with a loving note. Then she told us “If you still have this in 5 years, I’ll give you $50.” We all capitalized on it it 2006!

I inherited a lot of wisdom from gram. A wise person learns from their mistakes, an even wiser person learns from other people’s mistakes. There were many things I never made the mistake of doing, because grandma shared her mistakes with me. When I was about 30 years old, she told me the story about how she left my abusive grandfather. In a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable for a woman to be a single mother, (or to have a job), she trail blazed a path for our family by investing in herself. She knew she was worth it and she wanted to show her daughters how strong a woman could be. Grandma became a role model for future descendants and changed the course of our family’s future.

Gram went to drafting school at night while she worked at a laundry mat during the day. Then she got herself a good paying job at General Electric. One day a man came to her and said “You know, I really don’t appreciate women being here in the workplace”. She said “If it wasn’t for men like you, I wouldn’t have to be.” That’s the superman, steel-bending blood that’s pumping through my veins. 

I only met one other person in my 40 years who was brutally honest with me the way gram was. When I was with my ex, and I complained to her about him, she said “I don’t feel sorry for you anymore. You allow him to do this to you. If it’s that bad, then you need to leave him.” Then when I was overweight she’d say “I don’t wanna hear you complain about your weight if you’re gonna eat that.” For grandma to say those types of things to me, it proves she really loved me because she didn’t let the fear of hurting my feelings in the short term stop her from telling me the loving (albeit hurtful) things RIGHT NOW that would help me be better in the long term.

My grandma always motivated me to do better. She always said “You are the great hope of this family, you’re gonna do great things”. If it wasn’t for grandma and her non-judgmental listening, support, positive words and all the “little” things (nothing is too little to a hurting heart) she did for me, I would either be dead from a drug overdose (or an abusive guy), in prison, or a burden on society because I’d still be on drugs. Without gram, I would never have had the courage to get that protection from abuse on my ex. In fact, she went to court with me for moral support. Thanks to gram and all her support, as of December 23, 2018, I am now 11 years clean and sober and have a Masters in writing! 

My gram is my hero because she loved me. Sure, lots of people love you, but love ain’t what you say, it’s what you do. Who does nice things for you—even when you don’t deserve them? Who listens to you and tries to understand by asking questions to better clarify? Who sticks by your side no matter what you say or do? Who tries to dig deep and get into your soul? Who truly likes you for you without judgment? Who stands up for you—even when you’re wrong? Who talks about you and how proud they are of you, even before you haven’t accomplished anything? Who calls you out? 

Who would go to the hospital bed of someone who beat you (and themselves) to a bloody pulp, kiss them on the forehead in their coma, say “I love you” and pray for them? Yes, my grandma did that with my ex-boyfriend. My point is that grandma didn’t just love people who were good to her, and she didn’t just love her family, she loved everyone. She loved those who were practically unlovable. She loved me (and others) until I could love myself. How great would this world be if we all had the courage & strength to do that?

Even when I was on drugs, grandma still treated me with respect, kindness, compassion and non-judgment. Gram never treated me like a second-class citizen, never told me I was bad or no good, never said anything that made me feel unworthy or unloved. In fact, the opposite is true. Gram always thought of me. She brought fresh fruit to my house for me and sometimes even a whole, home-cooked meal. She sent me little notes in the mail and comics that related to my life. She showed me she was always thinking about me because she called me. She left funny messages or singing messages when she got my voice mail. Grandma was my biggest YouTube fan, she commented on every cover and vlog I made. She read every article I ever wrote—not just the ones for big magazines like the War Cry, and Auto-Round up, but even my own blog. Gram made me want to do better. And every time I set a goal and made the tiniest bit of progress towards it, grandma cheered for me more than I did. She acted like I won the Super Bowl!

Think about that the next time you talk to the person in your life who’s on drugs, or an alcoholic, or going through major life trauma. You can be the one that inspires someone to quit drugs. Love ain’t what you say, it’s what you do, and it’s the only thing that changes people for the better. You can save a life by showing loving actions. It doesn’t take a cape to be a hero. Heroes wear overalls too! 

Dedicated to: P.D. Silk! (March 10, 1939-December 23, 2016) Your life is proof God exists.

Liberty V Justice