My most influential mentor is my grandmother, Marilyn Cecelia Hewitt. Growing up in Detroit during the Great Depression, she learned to live frugally but was still able to enjoy life. She has always encouraged me in my pursuit of knowledge and supported my interest in the arts, including glassblowing, music, and dancing. She has inspired me to develop my spirituality, refine my talents and skills, and take advantage of every opportunity, especially while I am single.
Even while I was young I appreciated how she conducted herself as a woman with class and style. I have always been impressed by her impeccable care in dress– for instance, how she carefully matched her white blouse with white shoes, accessorizing with a white handbag (only between Memorial Day and Labor Day, of course). She made me want to follow in her footsteps with her conscious care of body, mind, and soul.
By example she taught me patience, humility, generosity, and positivity. Ever since I can remember, she would come over to my parent’s house to selflessly help my mom. I would look forward to that day, arranging my schedule so I could spend time catching up and hear the latest news while drinking tea. Under my grandma’s tutelage, we began cooking together. I enjoyed learning about different herbs and spices, listening to her patiently describe when and how to use them. She also taught me how to sew, both by hand and machine, even helping me alter a dress for an upcoming dance. While we worked I loved hearing her tell me of the exquisite balls and dinner parties from days gone by. The stories she shared caused in me a desire to learn how to dance with grace and assurance. I still remember the warm summer evening at my parent’s cottage when she taught us how to dance the dance of the 1930‘s, the Charleston. We quickly lost interest in our campfire, laughing and dancing under the stars.
My grandmother has always been willing to lend a listening ear and give thoughtful, wise counsel. When thanked, she will humbly reply “Sure, I’m always full of ideas for the other guy!” As someone I respect and look up to, I cherish my time with her and hope to be like her one day. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, my sweet “Gramsie” has had a significant impact upon the lives of many others as well as my own.
Leah Waldo | College for Creative Studies
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Charleston photo by Charles Phelps Cushing