I think of her often. Of her sacrifice, her silent dedication in spite of the odds stacked against her. My grandmother left the balmy islands of Puerto Rico and moved to New York City with three kids. She took a job at a sweat factory sewing sweaters in the winter and bikinis in the summer, sewing clothes she couldn’t afford.
My grandmother left the NYC sweatshop for another located in Los Angeles, where she boarded three buses to get to work before sunrise. As a child, she begged me to go to school. Stay far away from sewing machines, she whispered with a Spanish accent.
Years later, when I invited her into my college dorm room, she danced salsa to the music in her heart. She swung her hips from side to side, and twirled me around the room.
This morning I woke before sunrise. It was dark and I imagined my grandmother boarding a bus, not fully understanding the sacrifices she was making for her future granddaughter to enjoy the luxury of running her own business.
Little did she know she was stitching together a legacy of hard work, determination, and dedication. My grandma sat behind a sewing machine assembling clothes, but—in reality—left a pattern of fortitude for me to follow years later.