Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

My grandmother’s name was Peggy Anne Houze, and she died at 65. Before she was diagnosed with breast and brain cancer, she was a wild fireball full of energy. My grandmother was kind, careful, persistent, and hardworking. She believed that family came before all else and even if someone wasn’t blood related but close to her, she’d consider anyone of that time to be her family. This woman was so outgoing, loud and funny that she made friends everywhere she went.

Although my grandmother was fun to be around, she also wasn’t to be taken lightly. She had numerous occasions of serious strictness when it came to handling my outrageous family (extended and immediate). My sister and I were her only true grandchildren, and she did everything she could to have a heavy influence in our lives.

Grandma (along with my parents) taught us right from wrong, how to behave in public, how to act towards each other and how to be well-mannered as well. She’s made me into the person I am today. A lot of family members and people who knew her always say that my personality is just like hers, which isn’t surprising since I practically lived with her.

She was also an educator, working as a teacher’s assistant at W.G. Pearson Magnet Elementary School in Durham. She started working as a teacher’s assistant after her retirement of 20 years as an accountant. The whole reason she went into the field of education was because of my sister and me. As a way to be closer to us, she volunteered (and later became a teacher’s assistant) at our elementary school. She worked there from 2005-2017, the time when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and later brain cancer.

She died on March 9, 2018. I still remember her that day clear as rain. It was a normal warm school day, and I was happy because I had raised my grade to a 97 in Spanish. I came home ready to tell my parents the good news, only to receive the total opposite.

They sat my sister and I down and said, “Grandma passed away early this afternoon”.

At first, I didn’t even really register what they were saying or the fact that she was truly gone. Once I had, I went to my room and cried the hardest I’ve ever cried. I remember feeling so angry and upset with the world, but I pushed all that emotion to the deepest, darkest place of my mind and kept it there for a while because I wanted to make sure my little sister and parents were okay.

As usual, I felt that there was this need for me to push myself aside and make sure my family was okay and that everything was good with them. I did this because it was the only thing that I felt like I had control of, I made myself busy with taking care of everyone else and their needs before my own because I didn’t want to deal with my own emotions. I later found that doing so was my biggest mistake.

I never allowed myself time to grieve, and my mental state wasn’t where it needed to be. I was angry and filled with much sadness that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I kept feeling like I was alone in dealing with her death, but I knew I wasn’t. I just felt that way because I was taking care of everyone else and not letting it show that I was emotionally unstable, because (again) I wanted a distraction, any distraction. But I knew I couldn’t  keep running from the truth because it always catches up to you. I just wanted to prolong the time before I would have to face it.

A week or two after she had passed I was still angry and confused. I couldn’t understand why a woman so full of life and personality had been ripped away from not only my life but from my family’s as well.

Questions floated around in my head: How could such a good person get diagnosed with two different types of cancer? How could she tell her family so last minute? Why did she hide this from me? Why did God have her go through all this pain when she had devoted her life to him as a Jehovah’s Witness for over 30 years? The question that stayed with me was just, why? Why her?  

She was the best person anyone could ever meet. She was better than me at least.

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