By Jenna Ferris
The beach is and always will be my grandma’s happy place. Sitting at the beach, peacefully letting the sun touch every inch of her body, reminding her that the world isn’t always cold and cruel, she listens to the waves crashing down, leaving a hard slap on the rough yet comforting sand. With a subtle smirk tattooed to her lips and her eyes closed, she remains in her chair. The wind whispering in her ear seeking for attention, and the sun shining bright illuminating every object in sight. The sun, which started out calm and warm, over time begins to harshly burn, causing a few sweat-drips to caress her slightly chiseled face. Eventually she can’t take the heat much longer; she gets out of her chair and treads the hot sand that wraps around her feet like socks until she plants her feet in the cool welcoming waves. Each step she takes gradually makes her lighter, to the point where she slides onto her back, floating with her head peeking above the water. After letting the water hold her for a while, she stands up and walks back to the shore where she now carries her own weight. The sun, which was once overly confident as the day goes by, is now shy, and hides itself behind the moon till dawn cracks the next day. She packs her multi-colored striped chair, her vibrant red and white cooler, and her pink towel in her wagon made of wood and red metal, leaving her happy place to come to the non-peaceful, non-soothing, not as warm, and alarming place we call home. The place which, in the summer, is my happy place: there’s air-conditioning, food, and a power outlet.
Her beach day has now come to an end and she walks through the gate that blocks off our property. The loud click of the gate closing is heard from inside the house and as soon as it’s heard, the next thing you hear are thumping feet similar to a herd of elephants hitting the ground. Thump thump thump… the sound of teenagers doing their last-minute chores that they “forgot” to do throughout the whole day. Racing back to their original position on the couch or the floor, they try to maintain a normal breathing pace, hoping when Grandma walks in that door and asks: “Is everything done?” to simply reply: “yes.” As soon as the feeling of being proud of what we’ve done in such short time has had its pleasure, Grandma starts going down the list: “Clothes taken care of? Pajamas picked out? Towels and washcloths are in the bathroom?” we confidently nod our heads up and down. The list isn’t done and she asks: “Did you pick out your clothes for tomorrow?” and a hush falls over the room. After cooling down from running all around the house, there’s a heat flash, and it’s not because of the weather – it’s because we’re scared. “What does this mean!? No Phones!? No T.V!? No hanging out with friends!? What!!!?” She tightens her eyebrows and folds her arms in disappointment and says: “Why are you still sitting here? GO!” and with that, there are two less people in the room. After a long relaxing day at the beach she comes home, does the laundry and cooks dinner, just in time for the moon to claim the night. We all close our eyes, eagerly waiting to see the next day of our happy place.
Wrapped around half her waist lies a scar. A scar that resembles hard times that she was able to push through the pain. Yes, the reason we have scars is from witnessing pain. In my mind the idea of a scar is that it once caused pain, but when it’s touched we find that there isn’t as much pain as we recall when we first got it. The sight of it may cause pain, but the pain has only made you stronger. My grandma got this scar from a lung cancer procedure in which they removed a third of one of her lungs that contained cancer cells. The scar is a little lighter complexion than the rest of her skin tone. It has a silver outline like the outer rim of the sun, the moon, and the stars. The scar feels like driving over a speed bump in the road.
This scar is a reminder that she was fortunate to have a second chance at living a healthier and longer life. She had the option to not do the surgery, but either way she could’ve died. She could’ve had the surgery and ended up dying during the procedure, in addition to the surgeons not being able to get all the cancer cells. Another option would’ve been to not have the surgery, but she would’ve had to go into war with no armor and fight against cancer’s deadly weapons. My grandma doesn’t need armor to fight cancer because she’s a strong and powerful woman. Grandma always says, “I may be small, but I am mighty,” and there is nothing that will ever make me doubt it.
Four months of constantly feeling sick, taking pain pills, and sleeping all day– every day, she wasn’t allowed to go to the beach or sit in the sun for long periods of time. When someone undergoes such a process of surgery and treatment, their skin is very sensitive to the extreme heat that the sun gives off. They were a long four months for her. She’s the type of person who if she wants something done she has to do it herself, no matter how much she wishes other people would do more to help out. She couldn’t have too many visitors at once because her white blood cells that fight infection were very weak and she could not risk being more sick than she already was. Not only did she have to avoid people with germs, but the rest of the family did too. My sister and I couldn’t spend the night at a friend’s house, go to the movies, or go to the mall. My grandma has never watched so much T.V. in her life. She watched movies and shows that present the scene of characters at the beach, but she couldn’t live her own movie as the main character sitting at the beach. After five months were over she was notified that she was cancer-free. She cried enough tears of joy that she could create her own lake. Receiving such great news has been one of the happiest moments in our family. As soon as I found out, I went to school the next day and told all my friends. I was so excited that I probably told them more than once in one day. My grandma can go to the beach and sit in the sun for as long as she wants. Every now and then I’ll give my grandma a hard time, but I do truly love her with every part of my heart and I trust her with my life. I am forever grateful for her and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for her. She is mine, she’s my rock, my go-to, my shoulder to cry on, my inspiration, my happiness, my sadness, and my love and she always, always will be my grandma.