My grandmother has been the person in my life that has truly influenced me the most. After more than fifty years of marriage she lost her husband, my grandfather, to brain cancer. He was her true love and together they were like no other couple. They brightened everyone's smile with their jokes and laughter. None of us thought she would survive on her own after his tragic death, seeing that the men were the dominant ones of their generation. Yet she proved us all wrong and gained more independence than ever and showed me that anything is possible when you stay strong and keep your head up.
Growing up in New York City and being the youngest of 13 children, my grandmother has never had to be lonely. She was always the one putting a smile on everyone's face with her strong New York accent and friendliness. She never had to drive anywhere because she was from the city and my grandfather could drive her wherever she had to go. After he passed away she secretly started driving lessons to get her license and even purchased her own car, at the age of 73. She probably knew in her gut that she would be in worse condition if she had to make one of her three daughters have to go pick her up every time she wanted to visit her grandchildren or even just go down to the store. She needed some independence and had to face her fears of driving. Even though she is not the best of drivers, the fact that she went out there without much hesitation just so she didn't have to stay locked up in her house by herself, and be able to be with the ones she loved, meant a lot to all of us.
She not only got her license, but began doing more community work, paying her own bills for the first time, fixing up her house, and making new friends. She didn't want to be a burden on our family and have everyone worry about how she was doing all the time. Sure, we saw her sleeping over more and trying harder to have a good time, but she didn't want us to see what was behind her glowing smile...
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