My role model, who always has a well-prepared pep talk, inviting hug, and avocado toast at any given moment. She is a woman who makes lemonade with “life lemons” and with her own bare hands. In fact, she doesn’t even wait for life to throw the lemons. She climbs the tree and picks them herself. She may fall from the tree, but she climbs back up, reaching for more lemons. Her mom and dad divorced when she was no older than 5. They remarried and had kids, presenting her with stepparents, 4 step sisters, 1 step brother, 1 real brother, and 2 half brothers. The houses were always bustling as se switched between them every 2 weeks. My mother learned the value of family at an early age. Growing up with so many people caused money to be tight. Working above it, she works multiple jobs at once and paid for her college tuition and housing. Despite being so young and naïve, she saw her own mother struggle and decided that she would not be financially dependent on any man (no offense dad!!). After taking many math and business classes for 3 years,someone told her that she needed to decide on a major. She went on to receive degrees in Accounting and Business. My mother pulled herself up all on her own. Although she and my dad are happily married, she continues working in her “man’s world” as she calls it (she is the only female in her partnership). Fast-forward 25 years and she is still the hardworking, determined, amazing woman fighting for her place in the world. She never fails to do the seemingly impossible. She always has dinner ready, works every day from 8-4, stays on top of her meetings, and takes accounting classes occasionally. Most recently, she has been the foundation of our family after my dad had a stroke. Not once has she complained about the trips to the neurologist or cardiologist or taking off work. She constantly has a positive attitude and is smiling. My mother is my biggest role model because she is strong-willed, independent, and incredibly smart. She is a people-person and is always trying to give someone the boost they need. She is superwoman to me.

~ Grace Gage

Artwork: Sarah Bauman