Legacy of Love

May 2, 2011
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Love. In my growing mind, that word has never held meaning, but when I spoke to her, it seemed to fill the air, and she seemed to radiate with it. She molded my personality and for as long as she lived she helped me perfect it. My parents were born in India, so they were raised around hard work, and many things were expected of me. I couldn’t always reach my expectations so I was accustomed to tough love. But she was always there to comfort me and counsel me. She was closer to me than anyone else. She taught me the value of patience and persistence. After all, she was my grandma.

Aleyamma John has watched over me since my birth. She was patient, loving and the perfect person to help me begin my life. She showed me what love is. She taught it to me just by being a part of my life. She was also loved by everyone. That is why I looked up to her in absolute admiration and maybe a little envy too. I wanted to be like her, loved by everyone. She was old and wise. From experience she was able to guide us. My brother and I spent much of our early years with her, but five years ago she developed Alzheimer’s. Her disease destroyed her memory, but her families memories live on. I am a witness that can tell anyone that her whole life she was there for my brother and me. My parents didn’t understand that we lived in an American community and couldn’t live the lives that they did. Grandma understood, and she did everything she could do when we were in need of guidance or support.

My mother worked around the clock so Grandma sort of filled the gaps left by Moms absence. Grandma held all the traits that a great mother would have; open mindedness, patience, wisdom, and many other attributes that I couldn’t possibly name. Christianity was one of those traits and a highlight of my grandma’s life and it really laid an impact on my life. Her faith and commitment to Christ was absolute and from seeing this it encouraged me to do the same. She taught me many songs illustrating our faith. She taught with patience and enthusiasm. Her favorite line would be “one more time” or “try again.” I sang songs with her until I could sing them backwards. Times like these brought me closer than ever to grandma. I envied her easy and loving lifestyle but I can remember that she faced many obstacles before becoming the person she I saw and admired. Grandma moved here from India and that in itself was a challenge. Learning and adapting a new culture could not have been easy. But her patience and persistence brought her through.

The time we shared was filled with happy moments, most of them being in the kitchen where she spent her days cooking. I can remember the time when we baked cookies together and she let me crack the eggs. At first I hit the egg against the bowl like I saw my mom do many times before, but the egg burst and seemed to spill onto everything except the bowl. I remember stammering an apology and sadness washing over me. I wanted to be perfect in her eyes. Surprisingly, she laughed and her contagious smile had me grinning from ear to ear. Soon I was chuckling too. We laughed and cooked together for the rest of the evening. I cracked the eggs again with a similar result, but the third time was the charm. My grandma’s patience through the rest of the baking was overwhelming. I even got tired of myself. I realize now that a silly mistake couldn’t dent in her love for me.

I can also think back to a time not long ago when she lived in a nursing home. We visited her twice a week. She would say everyone’s name every time we saw her, and bid us farewell with an “I love you”. Over the years her memory slid farther away from reality. Soon she couldn’t recognize even her daughters or sons. One day as we were leaving the home, grandma mumbled something. I turned back to here what she said. My parents were calling for me to come. I couldn’t leave just yet. If it was one thing my grandma taught me it was patience. I waited a little longer until she mumbled it again. Now I heard it, and without a doubt, she had said my name. When she moved out of our house, I started to lose my old, very strong love for her, but in the nursing home that day I was filled with a different kind of love. Her illness renewed my love for her.

My grandma passed away on December 11, 2009. Her life was something to be proud of. Then was the time to be distressed but also the time to remember her teachings and to carry on her legacy. She was my role model. Now it was my turn to follow her example and be a role model for others. I felt that when she died she left something for me to share with my family. That thing is love.





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