“Please shut down all electronics before we begin.”
As I eagerly glared at the rows of heads before me, I heard my mother silencing my younger sisters. I noticed a growing smile on her face, an indication that her efforts as a single mother were reaping wonderful treasures. I had recently received a generous scholarship to visit Stanford University in California. While the plane began rolling, I couldn’t help but stare at my mother’s short hair. For some unknown reason, those beautiful curls have never reached beyond her shoulders. The three-hour flight amidst the open sky, however, allowed me to understand her new priorities as an independent woman.
I remember arriving at the San Francisco International Airport. I had never experienced such a sense of place the moment I felt the cool night breeze. At the rental car station, I dropped my overstuffed gym bag to take silly pictures with every Lexus or BMW possible. I ended up laughing at my unphotogenic skills as we drove to the Holiday Inn near San Jose. I was amazed by the friendly receptionist who easily found a list of thirty tourist attractions. I am sure she dropped the flyer six times before handing it to my mother. Yet, we all simply giggled with no hard feelings. I’ll never forget that clumsy woman with a gigantic heart.
The next morning, I took an early shower so I could iron my raspberry tie, pink collared shirt, and black vest. My sisters call me the heaviest sleeper ever, but I was too ecstatic about attending an exclusive conference at Stanford to stay in bed. Yet, my mother still managed to wake up before everyone. Her sleeping patterns always astound me. In the cafeteria, I made sure we quickly ate our pancakes and eggs to allow thirty minutes for traffic. When my mother pushed in the keys, however, she realized the van had been running the entire night before.
Traffic became our last worry.
My mother asked the receptionist for jumper cables, I caught a man across the street, and my aunt called the rental station. I stared at my watch and feared losing an incredibly rare opportunity. Fortunately, my aunt agreed to handle my sisters while my mom and I took a cab. The fee slowly rose to a high price, but I was relieved to see the extra cash hidden in my mother’s pocket. At the campus, I was elated to see the gorgeous atmosphere myself – especially the palm trees. While I listened to presentations from admissions officers, I felt honored to be a part of the “30% admitted into the program.” I met individuals who founded nonprofit organizations, lost parents at an early age, and maintained high positions in school clubs. I learned that low-income students can receive 100% financial aid at top-notch universities. I was overblown by the realities of a college life, and I was sad to leave the campus.
The flight back home was very reflective. I gained the confidence to take my goal of becoming an attorney beyond the Texas borders. I understood that disadvantages and dedication work hand-in-hand to achieving all dreams. But most importantly, I came to appreciate the blessing who is my resilient mother. Her unwavering stamina allows her to deliver furniture daily, cook dinner for four children on a dwindling budget, and teach me that success is about how bad you want it. I realize now that her short hair is a symbol of refocused efforts to become my family’s backbone – a symbol that moves me through a long journey full of potential, persistence, and passion.
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