In Honor of An Amazing Woman, My Grandmama

In Honor of An Amazing Woman, My Grandmama

She fought cancer for years but never let it define her. She was fearless.

This past month, the world celebrated women. While I firmly believe International Women’s Day should be everyday, it was powerful to see women and girls stepping up to show the world that we are strong, capable, and talented. It made me think about who the amazing women are in my life and one person in particular came to mind.

Rowena Jaap Fullinwider, or as I knew her: Grandmama.

Grandmama is my mom’s mom and she passed away a few years ago from ovarian cancer. But her cancer didn’t stop her from leaving an amazing mark on this world and on me. She married a Navy Captain, raised three children while living around the world, and later in life started her small business: Rowena’s Jam and Jelly Factory. She had an unwavering faith in God and was Virginia-famous for her almond pound cake. She fought her cancer for years but never let it define her. She was fearless.

I was walking through a department store at the mall in Norfolk, Virginia (my mom’s hometown). It was nearly Christmas and the mall was crazy with last minute shoppers. I spotted a black leather bracelet with silver letters that spelled the word “FEARLESS.” It was perfect for Grandmama.

I gave it to her for Christmas that year and she wore it faithfully. She never knew how much it meant to me to see her treasure such a small gift. But I think it was more than just a bracelet for both of us. To me, it was a representation of who she was in my mind. Grandmama, no doubt, was afraid and anxious about battling her disease but, at the same time, she was fearless.

If there is one thing I learned from my grandmother it’s that being fearless isn’t being without anxiety - it is staring fear and crisis in the face and not allowing it to knock you down.

Grandmama was full of snippets of wisdom and words of comfort. She always used to say “Hand all your problems up to God on a silver platter.” While some Christians use hardship as a reason to be angry at God, she glorified Him in everything she did. Her saying has been an incredible comfort to me in recent years because I watched her lead by example, handing platter after platter up to God with an admirable calm.

She also used to say, “nothing can’t be solved with a slice of almond pound cake.” And as always, she was right. She had a firm dessert-first policy and watching her eyes light up when she ate almond pound cake is one of my favorite memories of her. To this day, I fill up on dessert at the dining hall and am sure to savor the bites of almond pound cake I get to eat in my life. They are a special gift I will never take for granted.

So in looking back on this celebration of women everywhere, I encourage you to look around you and think about the women in your life. They might not be here on earth forever, but their legacy can live on in your memory. I am so proud to be Rowena’s granddaughter. She was powerful, determined, and beautiful. I aim to model my life after hers. I hope to live fearlessly.

Cover Image Credit: Mary Frances Bellman

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To The Girl Who Always Feels Left Out

Maybe next time...

To the girl who always feels left out,

Girl, let me just tell you, I know the feeling. It feels as though my whole life, I have been that girl. You know that feeling when you are standing in a group of people and someone comes up and asks everyone to go to lunch in that group... But you?

Or they make it even worse by saying "Oh, I guess you can come too." You guess I can come to?

No, thank you.

At that point, you feel like the only reason you are being invited is that they feel like they have to. Which more than likely is actually the case. What about when you ask your friend to hang out and she can't because she will be doing homework all night? However, an hour later, you see her with your other best friend. Oh okay cool, sorry for bothering you with my friendship.

You know you are the girl who is always left out when you are the designated "photographer" or you have to specifically ask if you can take a picture with them because they are obviously done taking pictures and did not want one with you.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who 'Float' Between Friend Groups

We all know "Hey, will you take this picture of us?" all too well. Am I right, ladies? Oh yeah, it is fine. I hate being in pictures. I definitely hate taking pictures to remember this wonderful time I'm having.

What about when you and your friends discuss doing something later during the week and you ask about it but "It's probably not happening anymore." Then you check and would you look at that, your "friends" are having fun without you.


Oh but don't worry about it, I had things to do anyway. You know, clean the house, work on homework that is due next week, binge-watch The Office for the third time this week. Fun stuff. Oh and better yet when you see your friends are hanging out without you. The next time they see you, they talk about how much fun they had.

Oh yes, please tell me about how much fun you had without me. I totally enjoy hearing about how "I totally missed out" and "I should have come." Well, an invite would have been well appreciated. But maybe next time, right? Wrong.

Yeah, I know what you are thinking, "Wow this girl is being so petty." Well if you are thinking that, then you obviously do not know the feeling. And to think about it, you probably are not the one in the friend group who is being left out. So think about who that person is and make them feel included next time. It would be greatly appreciated. You do not know how much of a difference it could make.

Yes, I know everyone feels left out sometimes, but time after time, it starts to get really old. Then after you have to start inviting yourself to hang out with people, you realize well since they are not inviting me themselves, maybe they don't want me here. And then surprisingly, you stop hanging out with them. Hmmm, I wonder what could've possibly happened.

Yes, I know, most people do not do this on purpose. I am sure I have even done it once or twice without realizing it, and I am truly sorry.

From one left out girl to another,

Good Luck

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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The Lines Beside My Grandma's Eyes

Wrinkles are our body's diary of the adventures we have had.


The photo book opens. Happy memories gush out, overflowing onto the table, they catch my eye and touch my heart. I know very well, the woman that smiles back at me from page five. I knew her when she stood five feet 6 inches tall beside me, not four by five inches as she is now, preserved in this album of captured love. Yes, I knew her when her curves were 3D, when her sound, her scent, her smile were a reality before me.

A beauty through and through, from ages zero till 92. She blessed the earth she walked on -blades of grass bowed down before she even took a step on them. The wind blew to embrace her. To describe her as beautiful would not be enough. I'm convinced her heart was so full of loveliness that it overflowed onto her surface. Even within these pages, she still catches many eyes.

Mine are drawn to her lines. My grandma's face spelled love in the lines that she etched there. Between her eyebrows, she held her worries, above them sat her sass. Around her mouth, she forged ridges from a lifetime of laughter and millions of kisses. But the lines that I'm most interested in are those beside her eyes. There, her soul took up the pencil.

These lines are tender, like the gaze with which her honey eyes held the world. They are riverbeds for tears of joy. They are the tails of shooting stars, evidence of her eyes' twinkle, her omnipresent obstinance to dream. They trace the strong cheekbones where my sleepy head used to plant a goodnight kiss and whisper, "I love you more." They zig-zag like her heartbeat, electrified whenever she caught a wink from her Don. They are the illustration of 92 years of wisdom.

I see my whole childhood, my hopes for who I'll someday be, and my strong family ties in those lines beside her eyes.

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