In unlocking the enigma of a person's life, childhood often stands as the essential key to its secrets. Without the child even recognizing it, a single moment or a single person exerts an enormous impact. Now, reflecting on my childhood, I realize with increasing certainty that, in my life, that person was my grandmother.
During my childhood, I had many favorites - my favorite show, song, ice cream, and even my favorite fruit, the watermelon. Because I loved it so much, I was determined to grow my own. When I told my mother, she laughed. She told me that it would never grow, yet I refused to be disillusioned.
Lacking my mother's approval, I turned instead to my grandmother. She told me that if I wanted to grow watermelons, then I should do it. I can still hear her words, "Jeanne Marie, if you want something in life, you have to work for it. If you don't chase your dreams, they'll fly away."
She spoke to my heart, inspiring me. I grew more intent on my mission, blissfully slaving over my watermelon patch. I dried seeds from one of my pieces of fruit, and then planted them in the earth behind my home. Day after day, I watered and checked the soil for any signs of growth, and day, after day, I was disappointed. My grandmother urged me on, telling me not to give up hope, "In today's world, Jeanne Marie, your dream is the one thing no one can take away."
As I later learned in Latin class, I had come, I had seen, but I had yet to conquer. In spite of my grandmother's words, delusion captured me. Then, just as I had given up hope, a plant emerged from the ground. I monitored its growth by the minute, recording every centimeter, every inch it grew. And then, my mother's casual announcement, "By the way, Jeannie, We're moving." For the next year, I was convinced that back in my old home, another child was eating my home-grown watermelon. I realize now that even with my constant care, in such a harsh climate, no plant could mature enough for its melon to bloom. But when I was a child, believing was enough.
My grandmother had a tremendous impact on my life. She taught me if you reach for your dreams, they can come true. She taught me to believe in rainbows and blue skies, in dreams and singing birds. She taught me to believe in watermelons. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.