One Of My Best Friends Is An 86-Year-Old Woman

One Of My Best Friends Is An 86-Year-Old Woman

The close relationship I've had with my "Mamaw" has been one of the biggest blessings in my life.
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The headline for this probably sounds weird to you, but it's true. I consider my grandmother to be one of my very best friends. We've been close for as long as I can remember and I can't imagine being anything close to who I am today without her guidance and support.

"Mamaw," as we call her, or "MJ" (short for "Mamaw Jo") has been a huge influence in my life since I was small. I spent countless hours at her house eating home-cooked food, making birthday cakes for stuffed animals, and learning how to be who I am today.

Together with my grandfather, "Papaw," she showed me the proper way to make biscuits and gravy and how to play cards. The two of them made sure that each one of their seven children, almost twenty grandchildren, and now close to ten great-grandchildren knew nothing but kindness and unconditional love from them.

Fast forwarding now to my college years and I begin to find this entire new respect for M.J.

We'd always been close, but over the course of the three semesters I'd been in college, I had been learning more and more of her story and of my family history. She did all of those things for us when we were little, but her life before that blows me away sometimes. She had to stop going to school after sixth grade to help take care of her large family, yet she still held a full-time job after her kids went to school to help out with income.

She took care of her husband, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with little to no complaining, even when money was really tight or when one of us was being a brat.

She has spent her entire life meeting every challenge and every person with nothing but kindness, patience, and love.

I discovered that she truly is one of my best friends over winter break; I spend quite a bit of break staying with her while she recovered from a fall. During this time, the limited options of things to do in our small town were narrowed even further due to snow, so we spent a lot of time in her house drinking coffee (which, according to her "can fix anything") and reading books, something that we've both always loved to do.

In those quiet winter moments spent sitting by a fire, stories were swapped, laughs were had, and, as corny as it sounds, memories were made. That's when it dawned on me that there was little to no difference between hanging out with Mamaw and hanging out with my friends at school.

Is it weird to think that my grandmother is one of my best friends? Not in the slightest.

Her wisdom and guidance are something that I value deeply. The fact that I've gotten to have this really unique and close relationship with her for my entire life is something that I consider to be a huge blessing not just because of her, but also because I know how rare it is. I'll never be able to truly express how cool and amazing she is as a role model, grandmother, and friend.

Now, to you, MJ, best friend, thank you for being all that you are. I love you "all there is and more too!"

Cover Image Credit: Lily Snodgrass

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An Open Letter To The Friend Who Became My Sister

Love is thicker than blood.
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Sis,

There are friends. Then, there are best friends.

According to "Grey’s Anatomy’s" Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang, they're your person. The one who, “if I murdered someone, I’d call you to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor.” You’re so much more to me than any of those titles can express.

As I’ve matured throughout the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that good friends with good hearts serve an incredibly important purpose in our lives, going above and beyond what we give them credit and appreciation for.

The family we choose. You’re one of those.

The day we met, I knew that you were going to play an important role in my life. What I had no idea of was that you would join the cast of my life with a starring role.

First, I need to say thank you. Thank you for always coming to my locker to check in before class during high school. Thank you for letting me control the music on road trips. Thank you for sharing your family with me, and addressing my family as if you were born into it.

Thank you for patiently listening to the physical embodiment of a broken record when I complain about the same boy I’ve loved since senior year. Thank you for tagging along on every doctor’s appointment, grocery run, and trip to the post office, just because you know that I hate doing things alone.

Thank you for not thinking twice before dialing when I text you “please call me.” Thank you for never saying no to a coffee date. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for being my better half.

We don't share the same genetic makeup, but after all the sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations, shopping until our bank accounts cry, and swapping clothes so often that we don’t know what belongs to whom, how could I not consider you family? We have shared some my fondest memories together, and I wouldn’t want them to feature anyone but you.

You’ve been with me on my best days, and loved me on my worst. You know how to make me laugh when all I want to do is crawl into a hole and die.

Picturing sitting in my car with you in the passenger seat makes me long for summer, where we spend three months together doing all of our favorite things. You’ve seen me naked, done my makeup, and warned me before making a poor decision. Being away from you for extended periods of time makes me feel incomplete.

You are a piece of me that I am not quite whole without. You taught me that blood doesn’t make a family; love does.

You know me better than I know myself, which is both amazing and terrifying. You make me realize I’m enough for this world, and that means more to me than I know how to express in the limited words that make up the English language.

You remind me that I am more than my mistakes, and you keep me grounded when I spiral out of control. You’ve helped me carry my burdens along with your own, even when the universe comes down on you full force, way harder than you deserve.

You’re the one I come to for the truth if I think my new dress makes me look fat, and I know you’ll be honest. I trust you with my whole heart. You know the gory details about every boy I’ve ever crushed on, every professor who was an absolute jerk, and every fight I’ve had with my mom.

I wouldn’t make it in this life without someone who already understands and listens to every thought going through my head and each thing I seriously over think, even when you know, though you don’t say, it won’t matter in a week.

With all these affectionate things being said, don’t forget our fights. The few we’ve had were very real. We still don’t see eye to eye on some events of the past, but I never told my mom about it because there was no need to make her choose a side between me and her “second daughter.

We have learned to move forward, because the love we have for each other overwhelmingly outweighs any disagreement we’ve had, and always will.

Through all the tears and laughs, I don’t think that anything the world has to offer could seriously come between us. You go to a different school than me now, and college has rudely gotten in the way of our routine of spending every waking moment together.

Since we met, we’ve grown separately without growing apart. Neither of us are the same person we used to be all those years ago. Even so, we’ve pushed each other to our limits and you’ve given me the courage to keep going and do things that make me happy.

We lean on each other when it’s been a bad day and all we want to do is to snuggle and indulge in whichever show the other is currently watching unceasingly and unabashedly for comfort (it’s the little things). Having you as my co-pilot on this crazy ride called life has been frustrating, exciting, slightly concerning, absolutely insane, and something I don’t know how I would live without, and I don’t intend to find out.

I’ll conclude this letter with a quote from every basic, white girl’s favorite musical, “I don’t know if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Love you forever,

Your sis

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Even Though You Know You're Going To Lose Somebody, It Doesn't Make It Any Easier

Your mind understands what's going on, but your heart just doesn't want to let them go.

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Recently, my grandfather passed away just two days from returning to college. I knew that his days were limited, but I didn't realize how soon that was. My grandfather has had multiple cases of infections, even cancer and has bounced back from it and ended up being fine again. As a young girl, I had no idea that it was even going on at the time. He still worked at his job, even still participated in local committees and clubs.

However, since being away at my first semester, my grandfather had gotten sick. I wasn't worried about it because I knew he would bounce back again and be fine by the time I would have gotten home. However, that wasn't the case. In early October, my family had received the news that my grandfather was diagnosed with bone cancer, and he decided not to get treatment for it. I knew that he was dying, but I didn't know that in a short two months he would no longer be with us.

With a quick visit in October, a week or so after I found out the news, he was so ecstatic to see my face again because he would always say how much he missed me being home. That visit was the last time he said, "I love you." With being so far away, I realized that there was always a possibility of receiving "the call," and anytime my dad would call, my stomach would drop thinking that this was it.

Even with all the preparations being made ahead of time for my grandfather and knowing then that time was sooner than later, it still wasn't easy to see him lifeless and in so much pain. When he did pass, however, it still was hard to accept it once it did happen for me and the rest of my family.

Through the grieving process that has now started with my grandfather, I get drawn to this one verse in the bible that was said at his funeral service. Psalms 23:6 (ESV) "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever." I know now that he is in a better place, and he has reunited with his family members and will meet everyone else once we pass on.

Death is a hard topic to talk about, and even think about knowing that we someday we will pass on. But death should be more celebrated for then being pondered about. Personally, if someone can remember somebody in a positive manner, then their life was well lived and has impacted other people's lives.

I will always remember my grandfather's larger than life personality, his big heart for his family and others, and his smile. I'll miss him so much.

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