Part of me feels like two pages is just the preface to the novel of my experiences in life, and the trials and tribulations that have shaped this person that I have become. Though much of my experience can be viewed as deeply adverse or even damaging, I have learned to use whatever situations occur in life as a challenge to remain centered, and to learn to let go of the negativity that can so easily alter my perceptions, and my course in life.
My father died in 2004 of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS, when I was 24. His degradation from his wonderful healthy, vigorous, hilarious self to full paralysis took two years. The experience of watching him slowly lose control over his body was amazingly difficult, but the memories I have of him as healthy are the ones that always float to the surface for me. I remember how important my happiness was to him. He was so worried that by not finishing college out of high school that I was setting myself up for suffering. In my headstrong, stubborn youth, I had nary a worry about that, and was off to experience life outside of school, only to detrimentally come back to the truths he warned me of later.
He always knew the right thing to say; I remember his undying patience, and his unwavering support. I remember he always had a good plan, and I remember his deep and abiding love for me, his only child. Mostly, I remember
laughing until I cried. From birth, he knew exactly how to get me into stitches, and with each phase in life, I remember his sense of humor evolving with me. I remember asking him how he could recall so many things about my life, so long after I had forgotten.
His reply was always, “I remember everything.”
I plan on making some new memories, for me and for my amazing daughter who never got to know my father. Working full time while trying to raise her in the best capacity I am capable of, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA with a full course load at school is absolutely trying, but I do it all in memory of him, and to show him that I have a future as bright as he knew I would attain. His immense supportiveness got me through even his worst times as he got sicker, and it’s that strength and character that I do my best to utilize as I wade through the confrontation of poverty and the struggle to achieve life balance.
The past few years have been overwhelmingly difficult. My little family moved to California from New Hampshire in 2008 to be closer to my mother, so we could re-forge a strong relationship and begin to grow a new bond between grandmother and granddaughter. I knew the economy was getting bad in California, but I had no idea just how horribly it would hit. Several times we have been unable to pay rent, and my once excellent credit is in shambles. Too often it is a question of “should I pay electric, or should I pay rent?” when several different utilities are in danger of being shut off.
My wonderful partner and the father of my daughter is an amazing and skilled cabinetmaker and woodworker, but he hasn’t been able to find steady work that pays much more than minimum wage in his field- a far cry from what he was offered for his abilities back east. He often has to commute so far for gigs that more often than not he sleeps in his car down at work. Meanwhile, I strive to excel at work and school, seeing a light at the end of this tunnel that is graduation, and a better life beyond.
I believe I would be a deserving recipient of a scholarship. Honestly, this letter is not about portraying a sob story. These hardships have taught me strength in the face of adversity, and I feel the depth of my character evolving with each experience. I have powerful passion and a single-minded determinedness that will aid me in achieving enormous heights in life. I know this in my heart.
My goals are remarkably resounding and clear-cut at this point in my life. Having worked customer service positions most of my life as a default for lack of proper schooling, and having suffered the overwhelming pain of knowing I am unable to get by on the sweat and the efforts of my work alone, the knowledge that I have a marketable skill in the arts has always been nagging in the back of my mind.
Over the years I have discovered exactly what I want and how to go about getting it, and it’s all about getting this degree in the Multimedia Arts. I have always been an artist, and so has my mother and grandmother before me, but only in this period have we had the opportunity to utilize such amazing technology in order to make a worthwhile living as artists, a financial situation we have not experienced in our family. "Starving artist" has always been a little closer to the mark.
I am a mother of an amazing human being I am ecstatic to call my daughter, I work full-time, and I find joy in volunteering at various meditation centers in order to help others achieve the balance I strive for. I’m trying to pay it forward with my personal experience grieving for dad by offering my design skills at no charge for various people and churches, creating memorial folders for bereaved families. I use pictures and memorabilia provided by family members, edit and improve them in Photoshop, and put together full-color, portrait-style biographical keepsakes for everyone at services to bring home. It is a treasured memory that I hope to continue creating in the future, both for those who passed and to celebrate the amazing man my father was. Someday I hope to branch this effort out into a wider forum, availing my services to more people who want to memorialize their loved ones or assist in pre-planning. I believe I have the passion, the skill, and the power in myself to achieve these goals, and the motivation to get there sooner, rather than later.
Something Dad always said was, “This too shall pass.” I constantly meditate on that as I push ahead for a better existence for my family.