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USC Essay - Grandmother's Tears


jjeff 4 / 9  
Dec 5, 2009   #1
USC Prompt (Choice #1):

USC's speaker series "What Matters to Me and Why" asks faculty and staff to reflect on their values, beliefs, and motivations. Presenters talk about choices they have made, difficulties encountered, and commitments solidified. Write an essay about an event or experience that helped you learn what is important to you and why it is important.

One tear. Then two. Grandmother's streams of sadness would not stop flowing. Lying on the hospital bed, grandmother cried tears of agony and drops of fear. Sheering pain pulsated from her fractured hips; her body tensed with every twitch and every movement. There was nothing I could do but sit beside grandmother's bedside, hold her hand, and look after her as she battled her crucial moments. With time, I came to learn that this would be the start of my future, a responsibility that I would hold true to this day.

For many nights, I sat beside my caregiver of my ten long years. She, unlike most grandmothers, lived with me, raised me, and nurtured me while two parents were hard at work seeking to improve our standard of living. In essence, my grandmother became my second mother, my guide through life. Though as a child, I never realized how caring this "guide" was. Sitting beside her bed, I was given the opportunity to reflect on my grandmother's love and to challenge my role in the family.

At the hospital, instead of having my grandmother feed me homemade chicken and rice, I came to provide for her. With her body resting on the comfort of bed sheets, I helped her to the hospital food that she disdainfully disliked. Occasionally, I would sneak in her favorite Hawaiian Rolls, just to see her be happy. And when I thought grandma's needs were covered, more duties would spring up. Speaking tribal Chinese, she could not communicate with the nurses; grandmother required me to translate her words to execute her wishes. In one such case, grandmother felt sudden jolts of pain arise in her arms. Thankfully, the nurses understood my translation, and reduced the influx of fluid going into her arms. Such days at the hospital made me realize the importance of responsibility, of being a grandson and a family member.

With walker in hand, my grandmother finally came home from surgery, no longer my cook or my maid. Instead of playing video games or watching TV, I began tending to my caregiver, a grandmother of eighty-three years. To this day, though she continues to worry about her grandson ever so much, I refuse to let her do my laundry, cook my food, or make my bed. Instead, I do the aforementioned for her. For all that she's done, and after watching the pain she endured with her hip fracture, I can only give back my love - the care that I helplessly pilfered from her as a child.

Though I am bombarded with school activities and homework these days, there will always be time for my grandmother. Because of her, I come home early enough every day to help with basic necessities. I cannot forget the pain, the long years that she suffered, to raise such a grandson. After spending delicate moments with her in the hospital, I have come to realize how powerful family is. Each and every one of us has a duty, a responsibility to help one another live life to the fullest; that has become my commitment; that has become my goal. Family will always be with me, whether here at home or across the country in California. Though I might be mountains away and separated by rivers, I will never forget my grandmother, my caregiver, my guide in life.

ivyeyesediting - / 85  
Dec 5, 2009   #2
Hi Jiafu,

Thanks for sharing such a personal, intimate topic. You've done some great work overall. I have one major suggestion for you.

Many candidates will choose a topic of similar gravity for this prompt, so, you must really make it your own. With your opening paragraph, you risk having your essay compared against other similar essays. Moreover, the sadness of the story overwhelms the reader--and I believe you want to convey more than this one emotion. Your story is unique, complex and textured. So, how might you make your it sound different?

What interests me most is the concept of role reversal inherent to your specific situation. So, I would adapt your introduction perhaps to convey parallel stories that highlight this reversal, one where your grandmother is in the hospital and you are the caregiver, and the other when you are young and she is the caregiver (one storyline might be italicized). This simple device could achieve a lovely synchronicity and give your essay more dimension and complexity. I've mapped it out as follows:

Grandmother's streams of sadness would not stop flowing. DESCRIBE HOW YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN HURT AS A CHILD. Lying on the hospital bed, grandmother cried tears of agony and drops of fear. DESCRIBE THE EVENT. Sheering pain pulsated from her fractured hips; her body tensed with every twitch and every movement. There was nothing I could do but sit beside grandmother's bedside, hold her hand, and look after her as she battled her crucial moments. WHAT DID YOUR GRANDMOTHER DO FOR YOU IN THOSE MOMENTS? NEW SENTENCE/TRANSITION--SPEAK TO THE CONCEPT OF ROLE REVERSAL AND HOW YOU WERE PROUD TO GIVE YOUR GRANDMOTHER WHAT SHE HAD GIVEN YOU.

Just a thought--I love much of what you do with the rest of the essay, but I think a different angle for the intro could work wonders.

Cheers,
Janson
Ivy Eyes Editing
OP jjeff 4 / 9  
Dec 6, 2009   #3
Wow! Thanks for the help!

Just a few questions. What do you mean by "DESCRIBE HOW YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN HURT AS A CHILD" and "WHAT DID YOUR GRANDMOTHER DO FOR YOU IN THOSE MOMENTS?" How do they fit with the other sentences?
dbsqudtlr 4 / 22  
Dec 7, 2009   #4
Your story is very touching and easy to read.
It addresses the prompt perfectly I think.


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