I cringed and tightly clutched my dwindling chunk of chocolate, then, reluctantly, my eyes oscillated between my prized treat and her hopeful eyes. “Can I please have a piece, doll?” she asked, in Spanish. We had done this routine, always initiated by her, so many times before, and it always ended the same way: She’d try to coax me out of a treat; I’d guiltily deny her; she’d frown and explain that she didn’t truly want a piece and then kiss me anyway and carry on with household chores, causing me to slump away in shame. Surely, this time would be no different. But still, I couldn’t risk squandering my daily fix on a fleeting whim of a fickle woman.
But she wasn’t a fickle woman; she was my grandmother, better known as “Mommy Marry,” and she was challenging me to become a better person. Mommy Mary was and still is, albeit no longer alive, the most generous, gentle, and compassionate woman I have ever known. She was the type of woman to always cater to the needs of all those, whether friends or foes, around her before considering her own. She was the sort of woman to selflessly devote the better years of her life to attend to her aging and ailing mother sans complaints. She was the kind of woman to graciously and warmly extend financial assistance without keeping tabs. She was the type of woman to hone in on people’s positive attributes even when there seemed to be none, rendering my youthful mind bewildered oftentimes, as I could not penetrate beyond the inconsiderate surfaces of people harboring supposed goodness.
Despite my stubbornness, my grandmother strived to instill good virtues, such as generosity, compassion, and consideration, into me, hence, her incessant little tests. Though I never responded the way she had hoped; years later, her tests and the exceptional example she provided through her lifestyle—along with the conviction from God—began to evoke changes in my heart and incite me to aspire to her extraordinary virtues. I’m still plodding along somewhat ungracefully compared to her, but, someday, with God’s help and her example, I hope to become an equally wonderful example to, perhaps, my nephew and nieces and, someday, my own grandchildren.