Emily Carter, a senior at Perry High School, won the grand prize in AARP Michigan’s 2012 “Why I Love My Grandparents” Essay Contest. A panel of AARP volunteers and staff judged her essay best among nearly 200 entries.
See Also: Grandparenting Joys & Challenges
Here is Emily’s essay, “A Unique Journey”:
My Grandmother was first a Mother to three lovely daughters. It had never crossed her mind that she could ever love any better than she loved them. Then my Grandmother had grandchildren. She had a new job in life, and to her surprise, loved even better than before. I was my Grandmother’s fifth grandchild, so by the time I was born, she had her job as a grandmother down to a precise science. Little did she know, I was going to be a very interesting individual, in which she would find herself facing challenges that she had never faced before. It is because she overcame each challenge, that I love my Grandmother unconditionally. She taught me how to overcome being shy, basic life skills, and gave me astonishing self confidence.
Growing up I was a very shy child. Whenever anyone would talk to me, I would hide quietly behind the security of my Mother’s legs. It was getting me over this shyness that was my Grandmother’s first challenge. She would try to get me to interact with other people without using my Mother as a human shield. I even had to learn how to be part of the family. I can only imagine how hard it was for her to teach me something that should have come to me naturally. Because of my Grandmother’s efforts I have established amazing relationships with all the members of my family. I also learned the importance of being close to them. I am grateful for this, especially now, due to the fact most of my family lives hundreds of miles away. In conclusion of this lesson, I became the outgoing person I was meant to be and acquired the skill of easily bonding with others, and making friends. I no longer felt the need to hide or distance myself from others.
My Grandmother also helped teach me skills that I would use for a lifetime; including: reading, spelling, and telling time. Although I never liked learning these skills, and would often get frustrated with her, she never gave up on me. My grandmother would have me read books to her whenever we went on car rides, and I had to practice my spelling words every week at the dining room table. The words that I misspelled on my test I would have to write down ten additional times. I tried many times to tell my Grandmother that I did not need to know the misspelled words because I was not going to be tested on them again; however, she had me write them down anyway. My least favorite part was learning to tell time. I had made it all the way to fifth grade without knowing how to tell time. Once my Grandmother found out, she made it one of her priorities to teach me. If it were not for her I would not be able to tell time to this day. Eventually I succeeded in each thing I was taught--something she loved to see.
Finally my Grandmother would always boost my confidence. She always tells me how beautiful I am on the inside and out. She was amazed by my talent in art and music, and has always appreciated the countless drawings I have made her. She has seen my progress over the years and inspires me to become better at everything I do. My Grandmother especially likes to let me know how helpful and caring I am. We often dream together and have conversations about how I am going to become a nurse and help care for people my whole life. My grandmother made me feel as if I can do anything, and through all the years of her telling me I could. I finally know truly in my heart I CAN DO ANYTHING!
Whether it be prying me from my shell of shyness so everyone could see the beautiful pearl I was, teaching me skills needed for everyday life, or raising me to be self confident, my Grandmother has always been there for me. I love her to the moon and back, and hate to imagine how differently I would have turned out if I did not have her. I would do just about anything for my Grandmother, as she would do the same for me. Nine times she has been a Grandmother and twice a Great-Grandmother, but no matter how many children she helps raise I know our journey will always be unique.