The Roosevelt Review

What Defines a Role Model

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What Defines a Role Model

Alyssa White

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Everyone has someone in their life who they look up to and admire. But what makes a person admirable or worth showing respect to?

My grandma, aunt, and their mom

My grandma, Joyce Jean White, had four kids by the time she was thirty and by the time her last child turned two, she found herself a single mother raising and providing for four kids by herself, abandoned by the father of her children who would beat her as well as the kids. She would work hard long hours just to try to pay her mortgage and put food on the table for her three growing boys and one beautiful daughter.

My grandma and her four kids

Her sister, Vernae, would spend hours with my grandma in the kitchen baking tons of sweet treats for her children and for dinner, they would have what my dad calls “poor people food,” which consisted of toast and milk or English muffins and peanut butter. My dad says that he didn’t know how poor they were, because they didn’t know anything different. They just loved the sweet pastries hand made with love by their beloved mom and aunt.

When my uncle was in his mid twenties, he took his life, leaving a gaping whole in the family that could never be filled, not even with time. My grandma was forced to stay and fight. Fight for her new husband. Fight for her three remaining kids. Fight for herself. It took a lot of prayer and reliance on God for my grandma to stay committed to life, but she did. And boy did she live a full life. Full of trials and complications and hardships. But also with a whole bunch of laughter and love and forgiveness. As a young adult, my dad stole from my grandma to buy and use drugs and was arrested fourteen times, the youngest of the boys committed suicide before I could ever meet him, and my other uncle did drugs and continues to drink. During those times she would tell her kids, “I love you but I don’t like you right now.” Through all of that, my grandma remained strong in her faith in God and never doubted Him, for she knew that “His ways are not our ways” and that there was still joy to come.

My Grandpa and my aunt, Rebbecca

My dad, Kevin

Joyce Jean White passed away in her fifties because of breast cancer, before I was born. My dad says that she would always say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead, ” referring to the many tasks she needed to complete before the sun went down.

I never got to meet the woman who gave my dad life and who dealt with so many terrible things. But I do know this, she died an honorable woman, full of life and love and not a second was wasted. For she poured herself into her kids and grand kids. My two older sisters got to spend time with our grandma, so for that I’m jealous, but happy that her legacy still lives on. So many stories have been passed down about her. When she double dated with her sister and their husbands while on vacation in Hawaii and the Christmas spent making homemade felt reindeer that they sold and made over a thousand dollars in just one day.

My Aunt Vernae

My aunt Vernae just turned 85 and I thank Jesus everyday that she is still with me. She’s my second mom and the closest thing I have to my grandma. I see my grandma in the pastries we bake during Christmas and Easter, I see her in my aunt while she sews her intricate quilts and when she laughs her sweet cackle, and I see her when I look at my dad, the troubled boy who loved his mom with everything he had and who would give anything just to say “I’m sorry” and “I love you” one more time.

What a role model. The amount of respect my family has for her… insurmountable.

My middle name is Jean, just like my grandma’s. I’m quite proud to be her granddaughter and I can’t wait to see her in Heaven, glowing like the star she is.

About the Writer
Alyssa White, Writer

Alyssa White is a Junior at Eleanor Roosevelt High school. She is a very passionate reader who loves Jesus, books, and coffee.

Alyssa chose Emma Carstairs...

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