National Women's History Month gives us an opportunity to acknowledge women's contributions to history, culture, and society. At TERC, we decided to celebrate the month by sharing stories of the remarkable women who encouraged TERC staff to dream big and follow their passions.
In this story, Sabrina De Los Santos, Researcher and Development Associate, introduces us to her grandma, Abi, who illuminated her world with wonder and excitement and would always encourage Sabrina with these words.
“You know what’s best for you. You know what you like and what you want. So you go out and do it, and everyone else will have to run with it whether they like it or not.”
I grew up thinking my grandma, Abi, was a magician. She would catch me off guard and pull Andes Chocolate Mints out of my ears. At dusk, she would put her arms around my cousin and me, and ask us to stare out the window looking for a castle in the forest.
“Do you see those lights?” she would say, as she sketched the outline of the castle with her finger. Our eyes would light up with excitement as we made up stories of who lived inside. We would search for the castle when Abi wasn’t around and we could never find it. When we questioned her, she would tell us we weren’t looking hard enough; we weren’t dreaming intensely enough.
My grandma would travel back and forth between Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Whenever I would get in trouble and she wasn’t around, I would cry out her name as if she could hear me from 252 miles away. On the phone, she would remind me we were connected through the moon.
Abi’s home was always open. Visitors came to share their love and stories. Some of her friends would accompany her to under-resourced schools offering books and snacks. While my cousin and I ran around classrooms with the kids, the adults would catch up over coffee.
My grandma was proud of her pharmacy degree, even though she was never formally employed. My grandfather was an engineer and she would send him to work every day with a love note in his lunchbox. She would make sure he wouldn’t lift one finger outside of building and designing bridges. He had zero clue how to keep track of bills and run a home.
Despite her dedication to our family, she never encouraged me to think of my role as a woman in any particular way. She would always say, “You know what’s best for you. You know what you like and what you want. So you go out and do it, and everyone else will have to run with it whether they like it or not.”
When I grew too old to believe in magic, she would tell me stories of a fearless childhood and losing her mother at four years old. Stories of her sister’s rebellion against a dictatorship, and putting her last newborn daughter to rest.
I’m continuously inspired by her ways of loving, creating, and being. I inherited her smile, her love for tight hugs, and belly laughs. When life gets overwhelming, I think of the magical world she created. A world where my imagination would come to life if I played with distinct perspectives. To this day, I picture her on the other side of the moon blowing me kisses, somewhere out there in space.