College application season is over. For the most part, the class of 2017 knows where they’ve been invited to attend next year. A large part of our applications were rooted in the personal statement- more notoriously known as the Common App Essay.
Multi Mag is collecting essays from kids all over the country, who are going to all different types of schools because for many of us, this is the best piece of writing we’ve ever produced. It’s personal, raw, all encompassing and indicative of the person we see when we look in the mirror. These essays are about who we are and in many ways, who we want to be.
In the beginning of the summer I was told that my grandmother, an active, independent immigrant from Taiwan, had been diagnosed with cancer. The cancer was found in her lymph nodes and she needed to receive radiation therapy five times a week at a center located 45 minutes away.
In the past, my mother cared for my grandmother, her mother, when required. However, my parents divorced during my junior year of high school, and my mother started working full-time. She is now effectively gone most of the day leaving her with little time to transport and sit with my grandmother during her various scheduled treatments and appointments. This has meant that a lot of the responsibility for caring for my grandmother during treatment has transferred to me.
I have to admit that, until recently, I lived a pretty sheltered life. I grew up in Menlo Park, CA, Toronto, Ontario, and Princeton, NJ, all relatively privileged places. My family always supported me and gave me many opportunities that maybe I never really appreciated until now. Looking back, I am truly grateful to my parents for permitting me to simply be a kid. Other than getting good grades, devoting myself to activities that I really love, and making an array of friends, I didn’t have many responsibilities.
However, this all changed with my parent’s divorce and my grandmother’s recent illness. I now do more of the shopping and cooking for my own home, and I also care for a person who earlier in my life cared for me. I am now needed and must take on certain adult responsibilities. Rather than being the one in need of help, I find myself providing support to others.
My grandmother loved to cook and always brought Taiwanese tradition into the kitchen. We used to gather around the table, with dough in one hand and a spoon in the other to make dumplings. We would all laugh and share funny stories while spending hours pumping out dumpling after dumpling. Now, I go to get groceries while she lays down after her long day of treatment. I prepare her dinner, something soft and bland but well balanced and nutritious to keep her healthy.
At first, this transition was a lot to deal with. I was already taking on additional responsibilities for my own care, and I now had to step up in order to take care of my grandmother. However, as I gained more confidence in my ability to manage independently, I became more comfortable with the change. I enjoy helping out and have additionally benefited by getting closer with my grandmother during our trips. We talk both about her past in Taiwan as well as my plans for the future and sometimes stop at a Chinese grocery store to pick up ingredients for dinner. Through this experience, I have come to realize that I can show my love for family members by helping and being of service to them.
Contributing to my grandmother’s care has really marked my transition towards adulthood. I still spend time with my friends and enjoy activities after school, but I also am taking on real responsibilities. This new role, acting more as the adult, someone who is relied on, excites me and leaves me wanting more. Whether it’s assisting my family, my friends, or even providing care to my own children in the future, I realize that being the support system, the backbone of your family, is not a burden but a gift. Being there for other people is something that I have always been committed to and something that I want to do for the rest of my life. I am proud to be taking on the role of adult and caring for more grandmother, and I want to take what I am learning during my transition from childhood to adulthood and use my learnings in order to help more in the near future.