Today marks the fourth year since my grandmother passed away.
I look like her... a lot like her. So does my cousin. Between the two of us there was no doubt that she existed on this earth.
But there's more then just genetics.
My grandmother was the matriarch of our family. She outlived my grandfather by 25 years, continued working, and kept all sides of the family in touch. Her one brother had six children and I have more cousins then I can count... my grandmother knew and loved them all. My cousin knows them all better then I do; and if you are one of said cousins reading this, I'm sorry. The family tree branches get all twisted up in my head.
I digress... it's more then just genetics.
My grandmother was accepted into the University of Chicago at age 16. She taught chemistry there while working on her Master's degree... which she achieved by age 20.
After getting married, moving to New Jersey, and having a family, she went back to school, got another degree in computer science, and landed a job as a project manager at CSC.
The software she wrote as a project manager is still used by United Stated Air Traffic Control System.
Literally every time a plane lifts off and lands safely it's because of something she wrote.
In her early 50s she was diagnosed with breast cancer... and BEAT it.
My grandmother has some big shoes to fill, and I tell myself that if I "grow up" to be even half the woman she was I'd be proud.
But she wouldn't.
She would want me to surpass her, do better then she did in all areas. She would want me, and the rest of the grandkids and cousins, to live the happiest and most fulfilling lives that we can make for ourselves; to never settle for what we think is, or are told is, expected of us at the time.
Every day, for the last four years, I've looked in the mirror and seen my grandmother. Maybe it's time I finally started acting like her too.
Stephanie Cansian is a rebelliously positive Central Jersey citizen with her husband and their dog.