It’s not easy to lose a loved one, and with everything that’s going on in the world, it seems that dealing with loss is all too common. While it’s comforting to know that you are not alone in this loss, it doesn’t make it hurt any less to lose those you love. The loss of two of the strongest women in my life is hitting me extra hard this International Women’s Day.
As an only child, the only family I grew up with besides my parents were my two incredible grandmothers. Even though I always felt like I was missing out on not being near cousins, aunts or uncles, I knew how blessed I was to have both my grandmothers play such a large role in my life. They each individually were such strong forces in their own right, and I will always be amazed by their strength and independence as women who both lived 96 meaningful years of life.
My mother’s mom, my Nanny, was a successful real estate woman, while most women at the time were Suzy Homemakers. She worked from an extremely young age and taught her children and grandchildren to work hard, but to always remember that, “You are number one.” As a UC Berkeley student who constantly gets overwhelmed and stressed, I always remind myself of her advice and take it easy on myself. She could make anyone smile and was the greatest inspiration and role model for how to treat others with kindness. She inspired me to accept and love all people no matter their background, and everyone knew they could always go to “Nana Thelma.”
My father’s mom, my Mimi, was always someone who recognized the power of knowledge. Even after being taken out of school in the ninth grade to work for her father’s shop, she continued pushing herself to learn in any way she could all throughout her life. She always made me appreciate how lucky I was to be able to learn, especially at such an invigorating campus. She showed her love through knitting and food — making my family our favorite meal (chicken cutlets with her famous sauce) and making hand-knit blankets for cancer patients at the hospital. There was no one quite as stubborn as my Mimi, but in the best way possible.
I lost both of them in the span of a month, and ever since, a huge void has been left in my life. But I know that even though they aren’t physically here with me anymore, everything they’ve instilled in me will always be there.
Having strong women in your life makes you a stronger person. Because of them, I’m a better daughter, a more motivated student, a more giving philanthropist, a more caring human being and so much more. Their strength inspired me to be the best me and will always continue to.
The best advice I have for losing the strong women forces in your life is to channel their strength in yourself. Make them proud for all that they have done for you, and continue to be strong for everyone else in your life, just as they always were for you. Be your best self, and let their legacy live on through you.
To my Mimi and my Nanny, thank you for teaching me what it means to be a strong, independent woman and an even more wonderful human being.
Today, for International Women’s Day, and every day, celebrate the incredible women who make you — or have made you — who you are!
Contact Jackie Amendola at [email protected].