The Keys of Perseverance

September 28, 2007
The woman waited as meandering students passed her car, all the while exchanging puzzled looks with one another. Her face, worn with wrinkles and embedded with long hours of tedious work, was far different from what the children were used to seeing. Their mothers, sporting pony tails and Polo t-shirts, congregated in the front of the school, excitedly bragging about their children’s achievements. This woman, however, sat alone. A shy, brown-haired girl opened the car door and stepped inside, breaking the silence.

As I stepped into the car, it’s paint gradually rusting off, I smelt the familiar scent of boiling eggs. At age six, I had already come to accept the fact that my grandmother’s Chevrolet would never be a shiny silver van, nor the fact that the odor of eggs would ever vanish. Still, I had formed a strong connection with the car. It had taken me to every swimming lesson, every soccer practice, and every school event, bouncing me along its cushioned doors as it rumbled to each destination. More importantly, I formed a tight bond with the driver, my grandmother.

Connie Sheetz lived most of her life in Guatemala, and the move to America was a difficult one. Her college education was of no use in the United States because she could not speak English, and thusly had to settle for low-paying jobs that required little skill and gave only enough money to get by. Connie ended each day with a heavy sigh as she flung herself onto a beat up mattress, one of the few items she could afford in her cage-like apartment. When she wasn’t exhausted, she was living on each paycheck, guiding her daughter through high school, and eventually through UCLA, rejoicing in every achievement that my mother accomplished. Connie’s affectionate personality was not only directed to her daughter, but also to her granddaughter.

I began to grin as I held up my drawing of a flower to the light from the car window, waving it proudly in the air. The picture looked as though a set of markers had gotten into a violent war, spreading random blots of ink across the page.
“Look Gram!” I yelled. “I drew this and the teacher put it up on the wall! She said it was really pretty.”

“It looks great.” She tucked her curly hair neatly behind her ears. “Can I have it?”

“Sure,” I replied, holding the poorly drawn flower up to her. She took the piece of paper and carefully put it in her purse, making sure to not crinkle it.

“Ready?” she abruptly asked.

I knew exactly what she was talking about.

She took her keys out of the ignition and held them up to the window, making them twinkle in the sunlight. Without speaking, I closed my eyes and counted slowly to fifteen, annunciating each syllable of the numbers. By number seven, I could hear her trying to muffle her high-pitched laughter which seemed to eliminate the egg-filled odor of the car. I forgot where I was for a moment; I continued to count as I visualized being an explorer in a damp cave, looking for the hidden treasure and trying to avoid the many challenges that faced me along the way. I smirked. I had just finished saying “fif-teen,” and I could begin my expedition for the treasure of the hidden keys.
The normally cramped car seemed to grow as I gazed over its seas of blue cushions and vast deserts of worn carpet. I struggled to push a boulder aside, the pillow’s weight taunting me.

I pointed to a random spot in the car.
“Cold,” she said in a thick Hispanic accent.

I squirmed in my seat as I continued to look for the key, cautiously opening and closing the many Spanish books in her car. I always made sure to be careful in that car, constantly trying to avoid any danger such as the paper cuts lurking within every turned page of a book. As I continued my search, her face red with anticipation, my grandmother looked as though she were about to burst.

“Nunca lo vas a encontrar,” teased Grandma, “You’ll never find it.”
Giggling uncontrollably, I continued to look around the car. Finally, after several minutes of ongoing searching, I grew restless and discouraged.
I rolled down the window and stuck my head outside. Children passed, hand-in-hand with their mothers, and entered their minivans. A gust of wind suddenly blew, blowing my hair into my already discontented face. I heard the faint sound of keys, but quickly reassured myself that I must be mistaken. I would never find the lost treasure.

“Sigue. Keep going,” commanded my grandmother, gesturing with her hands. The car grew dark as a cloud concealed the sun.



“Fine,” I uttered, begrudgingly grabbing a random book that I had already looked in. I held the book upside down, humoring my grandmother’s grin. A small object dropped.

“The keys?” I questioned, stunned at first. “I found them Grandma! Look, look!” I tossed them high into the air and caught them, thrilled with my accomplishment.

“Que Bueno,” she beamed.

The proud feelings that were once shared with my mother were now expressed toward me. It didn’t matter that I merely found the keys with my grandmother’s assistance, but that I had the determination to achieve my goal: locate the keys.
I find that the simplest of events can influence one’s perception of the world. By merely playing a five-minute game of hide-and-go-seek with my grandmother, my personality has been severely altered. Instead of viewing a problem as unsurpassable, I can now see it as another hurdle to jump over.
As she drove off, the woman smiled at the mothers gathered in the front of the school, content that she had brought joy to the little girl who sat in the back seat of her beat-up Chevrolet.

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renegades1171 said...
Aug. 21, 2008 at 5:46 am
i really enjoyed this, I would like to see more of your writing!
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