It was sunny when my mother picked me up from school and told me that we were going to go over to my grandmother’s apartment. She said she had an announcement to make and, even at that point, my gut told me it was not going to be good. We walked up the stairs to the apartment where my grandmother and sister were waiting on the couch.
“There’s no easy way of saying this” my mother said to no one in particular “your father and I are getting a divorce.”
If I could single out the most influential person in my life it would be my grandmother.
With unquestionable love, she saw me through some of the most turbulent moments in my life; most recently, the separation and divorce of my parents.
I can remember how the floor was pulled out from under my feet. My sister began to cry and my grandmother, already informed of the decision, came over to comfort me while my mother attended to my sister. It was a familiar hand that gently squeezed my own. It was the same hand that had held mine at the “Toys R Us” when I was younger, the same hand that edited my English essays for school, and the same hand that seemed to be the only constant in a life that would soon be changing.
The way she stayed strong and independent, particularly on that day, has been an example I have attempted to emulate ever since. She reminded me that I also needed to be strong and independent for my younger sister. She gave me a goal as an older brother that day: to forever be there for my sister, just as she was for me.
I grew up fast after that. I didn’t see my father for some time after the meeting in the apartment, and when I was around my mother she was distant, lost, as if she was attempting to redefine herself. She often asked for overtime at work as she would now be paying the bills as a single mother with some aid in the form of child support, but was stubborn as she attempted to pay the bills on her own.
In consequence of her lack of presence around the house, a new dynamic emerged: my sister now came to me for guidance while I looked to my grandmother. I would ask the questions that I knew I would be asked of me and it was only through my grandmother’s patience and constant assistance that I was able to provide answers for my curious, and sometimes scared, young sister.
Today, both my sister and I have become more confident. We now know, thanks to my grandmother, our roles and responsibilities in a new family. Nonetheless should the need ever arise I know that my grandmother is a mere phone call away, able to provide as comforting a hand as she did in that apartment all those years ago.