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The shortest paragraph brought me back across the struggle that has plagued me for so many years. The thing that scares me the most is what I chose for myself.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in mommy’s living room chair surrounded by boxes of every size. Boxes which overflow with items with kitchen wares, china, glasses, and memories of years gone by.  The memories we try to sort as we move into the new, I realized, this history change hits me. I look across to Granny, my granny, and the remains of 517 Dubois Cir are all around her, but the memories of home of Granny’s house are in her and she hands me a book. A book that immediately takes me away from the present and back to 1991. I was just 5 years old. A Kindergartener who loved three things, her grandparents, her church and school. This gift was the best combination of all three. A children’s bible which was inscribed, “On your very first report card, keep up the good grades all through your school days, we are very proud of you love granny and papa.”

On my first report card.

You had a family to support young, those were the times and you did a damn good job of it. Granny you worked for the state in a job better than I could ever imagine. I’ve never said I looked up to you, but I did. Visiting you in the payroll office in the fancy suits and heels, with your white gym shoes in a bag. Commuting from that little townhouse in the suburbs to the train in Lisle every day for decades to get to work. You showed me how to push forward no matter what, how to be strong in spite of, how to keep going. For years, for as long as I could remember, you were always there. Working every day and never missing any of our school events or sports outings or even just hey can we hang out. My first job came from you, teaching me to work hard because it mattered. Cleaning out your closet and organizing it was a tough job, but I loved it. I loved touching all of your things, its as if the proximity to your power made me aspire to it.  Now, as I’m older and you retired I know that you did other things but the State of Illinois is all I really remember. You’re the powerhouse, a vision of strength, a role model for me to do great things.

 Papa who fought for our country as not just a soldier, but as a fighter pilot. The stories you would tell were an education I never appreciated, until you were gone and I’m left to tell those stories to Khylee, to the great-granddaughter who looks up to men like you. You had to fight for your education… Walk through many miles in fields of snow because you came from a family of shepherds in order to have the right to an education which I was freely given. You reminded me that there was a struggle to get to where we care and that I needed to understand and appreciate that struggle in order to move forward.

Keep up the good grades all through your school days.

I’ve always loved learning loved the idea of figuring out something new that I didn’t know before. Getting good grades comes from staying up all night studying for topics I didn’t know I needed to learn. From reading book upon book upon book just for fun. Dedication, something that you two taught me are the catalyst for the grades that I receive. Yet, in all this, I’m was a teacher who struggled with being in school herself. It was hard for me. Teachers talk and I got immediately distracted. The mood of the room changed my ability to learn, to focus, to figure out how to go from there. I couldn’t seem to study enough or effectively. The qualms of life got in the way and my distraction led to procrastination, which evolved into anxiety, which seems to be only healed by sleep. Yet I pressed on. Going through elementary school I was a straight-A student doing everything I was supposed to, mom relentlessly checking my homework. Middle school the little rebel came out along with buds of puberty. Fitting in was terrible. I felt like no one understood me and the few friends I did have seemed to dissipate as our ideas changed. Looking back this helped me. Middle school was hard, Pranarv came and showed me the math I did not understand, but I passed with flying colors. 8th-grade graduation, in the white sheath dress, pearls, and satin heels you insisted I wear, I could feel your pride. I could feel your satisfaction. High school, syllabus was my favorite word. Meant I could do what I needed to and have the luxury of evolving from there.  Ice skating to ballet to cross country to cheerleading I could do it all thanks to that syllabus and just turn it in. Homeschooling was definitely for me. Self-motivation outside the crazy of the classroom allowed me to have the grades I needed to succeed. I did what you asked, I kept the grades all the way through college.

We are very proud of you.

At the end of the day, that’s all I ever wanted. To make you proud, and I pray I have.

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