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Who Have I Become?
Most kids have both parents even when they hit their double digits, even into their 30’s and late 40’s most people still enjoy the company of their parents; however I am not like most people. I have a twin brother; I am an avid swimmer and hope to swim during college, but most meaningfully I am a parentless adolescent. At age 7 I lost my mother to breast cancer and at age 9 my father to a heart attack. I reside with my aunt, uncle, and their three children. Before I was 10, I knew I had learned two distinctive characteristics about myself: I am a realist and self-motivated.
Tragically, I have lost both of my parents. Both I watched slowly pass; my mother had a very severe type of breast cancer and the death of my father was from an ill-fated heart attack. My mother’s breast cancer did not only affect her, but my whole family. Most of the time she was in and out of hospitals. She had to resign from her job as a teacher. Gradually she was less able to do things for herself until she was bed-ridden in her own home. I felt sorry for my mom because I hated being sick when I was little. Once when I visited her while she was in the hospital, she gave me a stuffed bear. “Renee, I got you a present,” she said.
“What, what is it?” I asked.
“Well here take a look,” my mom handed me a red velvet bear.
“Thank you, but aren’t you supposed to get gifts?” I asked.
She laughed, “Well yes, but I thought it was time that you got something for being so patient with me in and out of hospitals.”
“Oh okay mom," I still didn’t understand.
“Sweetie, one day you will look at it and find comfort that this was a gift from me,” she said sweetly.
A few months later she died while I was with my Aunt Jolanta. I did realize that I knew what she meant; she knew that she wouldn’t get better, but didn’t want to share the reality of that with her daughter and son. I understood well for a young child and I knew that the surreal idea that my mom was still alive somewhere wasn’t true. At the age of 7 my mother died, but she left me with a letter that said that she cared very much for me and that she knows that I would do great things. Her letter influenced me to take every chance I had and not let life pass me by, which in essence has made me who I am today.
After a while, I was able to motivate myself to accept my mother’s death . I was 9 year old living with my brother and father. We had moved closer to my father’s family so they could help him with my brother and me when he needed. My father did not have a job after my mother died. We lived down the street from my new elementary school and I had friends come over a lot. I thought it was really exciting that I got to make new friends and that some friends of mine lived across the street. Sometimes though, I would go home with my friends who lived across the street then was picked up by someone from my dad’s family. My friends and I would play on sega or nintendo to pass the time. I felt that the ambulances and police where weird because they were in front of my house. I started to worry, but somehow in the next few days I would be back with my dad like nothing happened. My grandmother and I, after a dinner gone horribly wrong with my dad, had talked about why he was yelling at her. I started asking, “Why does he act so scary? Why is he sad a lot? Why isn’t he home sometimes?”
“He is just how he is; he has lost a lot, Renee. You love him though, don’t you?” She questioned.
“Yeah. I do, but why does he have to be scary sometimes?” I asked.
“Well Renee, if he scares you like he did at dinner, then call me anytime. Remember this number…” my grandma listed off her number. I repeated it.
She said, “He loves you. He just had some things go wrong that he can’t control right now. So if you ever need to call me, just call.”
“Alright grandma,” I left with my dad after that because he had calmed down.
This conversation became relevant because my grandma had made me responsible for remembering her number in case I needed her. I did need to remember it because I had watched my father have a heart attack at a gas station. A woman walked in scared and surprised, so she gave me her cell phone to call my grandma and the woman explained what was happening and where my brother and I had been.
As time progressed, I realized nothing molds a child more to be a realist then watching someone close to them die. It taught me to think of the real possibilities, I am not a pessimist, but I do like to think of consequences before I do something I will regret. I knew that my dad was gone, but as time has passed I have become a stronger individual and I use my self-perserverance to create a brighter future: remembering my parents as great people, I know I will take every chance to be as great as they had been.