Author: Calandra Aringarosa PM
This is the college essay I finally chose for my english class. If I can, I will use it for some of my college apps. The prompt was to talk about a person who has influenced your life and I chose my great-grandmother.Rated: Fiction K - English - Family - Words: 860 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 10-18-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2585601
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College Essay Final (Revised)
October 16, 2008
I must have been very small, for what I remember happens before my great-grandmother Amelia will go into a nursing home at age ninety-six and pass away a year later, before I start school. In the little adobe house my Amelia commissioned her brothers to build, my entire family has somehow crammed themselves into every place they can possibly sit. The living room is cramped and the floors aren't quite level, but this is Grand Central Station for my family. A product of the Great Depression, the house is more sturdy and pragmatic than luxurious: the product of my great-grandmother's very own Public Works Administration. In the hustle and bustle, I don't see my great-grandmother beckon me and I don't hear her, but she makes herself the center of attention to the adults for a moment.
Amelia, no matter how frail, still has a commanding presence. A yellow dog democrat and active member of the community, she campaigns for President Clinton in her old age and earns herself the nickname "La Doña" for her habit of always doing things her way. When my mother tells me to look, I look. I see her calling me into the room and I jump from the couch. I see the swinging fists and pudgy feet of a toddler, my own small body, as I stomp on small, quiet feet into her room. She reaches into the open drawer of her bedside table and hands me a stick of gum. I carefully hold the treasure in my fat little fist and I reach up to brush her snow colored hair with my hand and kiss her cheek. As the youngest of her great-grandchildren (To my family I was—and even at the age of nearly eighteen—still am "the Baby") and the daughter of her favorite grandchild, I spend a lot of time giving and receiving affection from the headstrong, domineering women who seldom was a stereotype of age.
She dismisses me with a squeeze of my hand and a nod and I stomp happily back into the sitting room and throw myself on the couch near my mom, wiggling between my grandmother and an aunt. In my high-pitched voice I ask if I can have my gum now. I look up so far that I'm watching my mother upside-down as she distractedly tells me "Yes." Unwrapping my present carefully, I see the chalky stick of gum in my palm and stuff it greedily into my small mouth, chewing as hard as I can. Juicyfruit was my great-grandmother's favorite and I remember the sweetness and the taste of banana. My mother doesn't give me sweets, but I know if my great-grandmother gave it to me, I can have it and I love Amelia unreasonably for it. I remember the rough, scratchiness of the couch and the angular, geometric pattern and how five or six people were crammed onto it as it sagged sadly to the floor. I remember the hushed, worried tones of the women around me. With an inherited flair for the dramatic, there are constant crises in this small matriarchal society. Amelia's spirit keeps us all in line, though. Nothing can be pronounced truly catastrophic until she deems it so, which is why she has still not entered a nursing home at age ninety-four.
Though this is my only memory of her, I now understand fully how much she has affected my life. Amelia gave my mother the house her brothers built, and has shaped a large part of my life in doing so. Without it, we might never have moved to Tucson, never lived in the house that she governed until the end of her life. Without this small gift, I might have lived a very different life and I cannot thank her enough. Amelia was practical, resourceful, and a truly intelligent woman. She set a standard for the running of a family and a high expectation that my family still adheres to.
Though Amelia has been gone for over a decade now, I can't help but feel the spirit of the girl who rode a horse like a man (much to her mother's chagrin) and who set out to marry a boy she had met one night at a county fair. Every girl in her family has had a fierce independence and a stubborn streak. She taught everyone resourcefulness and to not care about what other people think. Though we often venture from our roots, every one of us has come back. She has passed her strong will down to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, all of whom have treaded through uncharted territory and gone on new adventures. Like her, I have shocked my elders, loved and lost young, and will take whatever road I deem acceptable when life asks me where I want to go.