The Plaque This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

January 25, 2010
33 years is a long time. Somebody like me can’t even imagine 33 years; I’m only 14. For 33 years, my great grandmother worked as a food service worker. She died several years ago, and in my room I have her plaque. She had a lot of nice things. Naturally, when she died, her children wanted those nice things. But me, I wanted that plaque. To me, that plaque meant so much more than mink coats or diamond earrings. That plaque meant year after year of a mother’s hard work to support and care for her children.
The bottom of the plaque reads: June 14, 1995. That’s roughly 5 months before I was born. As soon as I read the year on this plaque, I felt a strange attachment to it. Something about it just drew me in. I was only in the 3rd grade when she died, but even at a young age I was drawn to it.

My mother and I were at my great grandmother’s house along with my great aunt and my grandmother. They searched through closets for expensive clothing, and through jewelry boxes for nice earrings. All my own mother wanted was pictures. She wanted symbols of her family’s past. All I wanted to know why. Why did people crave these material things in such a time? Then I feasted my eyes on the only thing I wanted. It was gold colored metal mounted on aged wood. My fingers traced over the engravings.

The smell was like magic; it smelled like her. I glanced up at my mom as she watched me take in the magical memoir. “Mommy, can I have it?” I whispered. “Sure, baby.” She smiled down at me. When we left Grandmama’s house that night, I felt like I possessed her most prized possession.

As the years go by, I think about her. Honestly, I didn’t know her very well. But, now I know one thing. She’s proud of me. She’s proud from the heavens that I get straight A’s. She’s smiles down on my when I’m honest and help the less fortunate. She’s delighted that I’m so driven and work so hard. She also knows that I’m proud of her. I’m proud that she was the only adult my mother had in all of her childhood years that she was really turned to. I’m proud of her for the tough sacrifices she made that made her a better person, and a better mother. But most of all, I’m proud of her old plaque.

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