Happy Mother’s Day to our matriarch

For Mother’s Day, a student writes about how her grandmother is the foundation of her family.


I can’t help but smile when I come home from college and look out the window to see Granny teaching my 2-year-old cousin Izzy how to catch ladybugs. I remember when I was that toddler running through the yard barefoot next to her.

When I was little like Izzy, Granny always told me there were fairies and gnomes living in the yard, but we just couldn’t see them because they were so tiny. As I grew older, I guess I thought about the fairies and gnomes less and less. 

But my understanding of those times in the yard remained throughout the years; there is magic in every day, even if it’s too small to see sometimes.

Earlier in the semester, my poetry professor told me I have a “superpower” for telling stories about everyday moments and making them seem fantastical in my poems. I immediately thought back to being a little girl in Granny’s yard, imagining all the things I couldn’t see.

And I also thought about the scraps of paper Granny has tucked away in her nightstand inscribed with poems I wrote when I had pretty much just learned how to pick up a pencil. I tried to remember if those poems were fantastical, too.

My imagination is just one small drop in the ocean of things in my life influenced by Granny. 

And as I watch her help shape Izzy into the person she’ll grow up to be, I realize that’s how it happened for each of us in my close-knit family of strong women.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’d like to say thank you to the matriarch of our family. After all, she’s the one who raised my mom and aunts to be the amazing women I know and love. Without my sweet Granny, none of us would be who we are.

When Granny moved from East Hampton, New York, to Philadelphia as a child, she didn’t have much. Because of her upbringing, she taught us to work hard and appreciate all we have instead of focusing on what we don’t.

With that, she taught us that we have each other, something money can’t buy. That’s why moments with my family — whether we’re enjoying a meal at Granny’s dining room table or sitting on the porch sharing laughs — are priceless. 

For as long as I can remember, Granny has believed in me and rooted for me. During my 15 years of cheerleading, Granny and my mom were the loudest fans in the crowd. That doubles as a metaphor for how my entire life has been with those two in it.

Granny teaches us about politics, our Narragansett Nation ancestry and what it was like being a teenager in the 1960s. She shows us her secret recipes, her “steals” from the thrift store and how to have a green thumb even in the city.

She teaches us to be caring and empathetic, but also courageous and fierce. She leads by example; live and let live but also stand your ground.

Most of all, Granny teaches me and the rest of my family not to take life so seriously. Each day is a gift and should be spent spreading contagious laughter — something Granny’s really good at.

Thank you, Granny, for making so many of my Halloween costumes from scratch, staying up late on countless occasions to watch “Saturday Night Live” with me, taking me shopping when I wanted to dress like Avril Lavigne in sixth grade and for always being my go-to girl.

You say we keep you young, but I say you make us wise beyond our years. 

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