Abuela. Abuelita. Susie Q. Grandma Susie. You can see her in the photo above, at the radio station I worked at before coming back to Boise for 103.5 KISS FM.

She's had many nicknames through the years since I was a kid--but one thing has always remained the same with me: this is the strongest woman I have ever met.

Any day is as good as International Women's Day to acknowledge all she has done for me--literally since my infancy--but today seems fitting to share openly just how thankful I am for this woman.

When I say she's been important to me since infancy--that's no joke. She and I have always had a very special and close relationship. One I'm eternally thankful for. There's always been an ongoing joke amongst my parents and abuelita that when I was born, my mom was terrified of giving me a bath. So of course, it was Grandma Susie that got me into the sink (fresh out of the hospital) and cleaned me up. From that point on, there wasn't a thing she WOULDN'T do for me.

I remember being a kid and watching my mom (another one of the amazing and strong women in my life) study all day and all night, working towards her career in dental hygiene. Lugging books, making flash cards, stressing out over exams. It was Grandma Susie that always made sure she cold focus. Lucky for me, that meant a TON of time with Grandma.

She makes the best food, she knows just what to say when you're having a bad day, and she can always make me laugh. She has seen me at my very best and at my weakest of moments--always being a voice of reason and love. As a kid, Grandma Susie would always stay at my house late to go for another walk around the neighborhood with me or listen to me talk about WHO KNOWS WHAT...whatever was on my mind that day.

Growing up, I was blessed with the opportunity to be a student at Saint Paul's Catholic School in Nampa. Of course, being a private school--a school bus wasn't an option. Both of my parents worked hard to make my attendance a possibility. So who took me to school? Grandma Susie.  Every. Single. Day. Literally, for the entire duration of my pre-undergraduate education. Every morning, I had a ride with Grandma Susie to school and as I got older it was a ride to the bus stop. Rain, sleet, or snow--Grandma Susie took me to the bus stop at 6:00 a.m. so that I cold get to Bishop Kelly on time for class. Since I was in kindergarten I made her one promise: I would go to college, get a degree, and make a great career for myself. To be honest, that became my only goal--to make my abuelita proud. My entire education, pre-school through bachelors degree, is owed to her.

Believe me, I wasn't perfect. I worked at a radio station way more than I should have through my high school years. There were times I should have helped my mom around the house more than I did. And of course, as any teenager does, there were times I had a really awful attitude. But two things remained: Grandma Susie's faith in me and my determination to make her proud. In May of 2016, I walked across the stage of my dream college and received the degree I always promised her I would earn.

Credit: Mateo, Townsquare Media
Credit: Mateo, Townsquare Media

My grandma cleaned houses and offices for a living. She could make a place shine and smell like pine-sol better than anyone else. She was a single mother since my mom and her siblings were kids and yet somehow--she persisted. Sometimes it's so easy to get frustrated with life and just want to give up. My Grandma Susie is an example of why giving up isn't an option and why NOT giving up, pays off.

I recall countless summers riding along with her. I never once had to go to a daycare. From house to house to house, she worked harder than anyone I've ever met. On her hands and knees scrubbing toilets and kitchen floors. "Go to school mijo", she would tell me "so you don't have to work like your grandma".  Little did she know it was HER work that I have admired most my entire life. Some summers were more rough than others. Grandma Susie drove the "white ghost" as we called it--an old, white Chrysler "tank" if you will. The passenger window didn't roll down and there was no air conditioning. It was HOT! Yet riding around with her on those summer days will always be some of my most cherished memories. I watched her, my entire life, help people in need--family or not. She cares endlessly for people. She would give her last dollar to someone on the street that needed it more than her.  "You never know mijo, they might be Jesus", she used to tell me.

I've been blessed my entire life. Two loving and supportive parents, 3 grandparents that have always been (and still are) my biggest fans. But on International Women's Day, its Grandma Susie I'm honoring. The woman that played the biggest of roles in my upbringing and that has expected nothing more from me than to just be a good person. Lucky for me, I've had her my entire life to show me exactly what "being a good person" is. I can only hope to be as strong as her one day.

Happy International Women's Day to one of my best friends, biggest fans, strongest mentors, and biggest examples of what it means to work hard and be a reflection of love to all those around you.

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