This past holiday weekend I put writing on hold to spend some time with my family back home in New York. We ate our favorite ice cream, popped in and out of art galleries; we stood alongside mourners and reporters outside the funeral of Elie Wiesel – honoring one of the most important voices of our time and one of the last surviving voices of the Holocaust that our generation will get to hear. And, importantly, I was able to spend time with my grandmother.
Like many snowbirds of her kind, my grandma flies south to Florida for the fall and winter. Though we talk weekly on the phone, I don’t get to stop by and spend time with her as much as I did when I lived at home. Growing up listening to and spending time with my grandma has taught me patience, has taught me about the loneliness that comes with a sister moving away to an assisted living in another state, of the joy of helping grandchildren name children of their own. She has taught me the power of my own voice. I have the power to change the way her day opens or closes with a phone call or a text message (yes, my grandma leans on the side of technology!)
Being with my grandma, uncle, sisters and parents this weekend made me think of a recent conversation that I had with Dr. Devine. We spoke about the similarities between engineering and writing, and about being mindful of the skills gained in one that could help the other. I brought up how both engineering and writing require a balance of social work and solitary work. In writing, socializing with and trying to understand people with different experiences and backgrounds can be as important as the time I spend at my desk with an open laptop. While working on engineering projects, we come together as groups to problem solve and jump ideas off of one another before dividing up the work to complete the calculations and research.
So, on that note, thank you to my grandma for the stories of playing bridge with “the girls” in her building, of the memories of the house she prepares to pack up and sell, and for calling me up and asking me to explain over the phone how to log on to her “Bookface” account.