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Grandma is My Protection, My Inspiration

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary, Words//Photos: Krystle Sipp Posted: Aug 21, 2008

A young woman from Oakland Ca. doesn't know where she would be without the constant, tough love of her 84-year-old grandmother. Krystle Sipp, 21, is a content producer at YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Julia Marie Sipp is my inspiration. She gives me life, the strength to carry on another day.

Julia was born Sept. 24, 1924 in Port Gibson, Miss. At the age of 25, she married my grandfather, George Sipp Sr. They had three kids: Adeline, Leondus (my dad), and George Jr. In the late 1950s they moved from down south to the west coast, Oakland, Calif.

This woman inspired me to be the strong, dominant, African-American woman I am today. She encouraged me to follow through with my dreams and aspirations. She believed in me when nobody else did, telling me, “If you want something, go and get it. Never wait on someone to give it to you, claim it yourself.”

When I was nine months old, my mom sent my siblings and me to live with my grandparents because she was not able to provide for us. When I was a pre-teen Julia became very sick with glaucoma and cataracts in both eyes. She went blind in her left eye, and as time went on, her health was got worse.

She has heart disease and had to have surgery to install a pacemaker. Under the doctor’s orders, she had to quit working immediately, which created a financial problem because she was our only source of income.

My grandpa got a veteran’s check once a month but that wasn’t much. My grandma took care of all of the bills, grocery shopping and buying clothes for us, making sure we had what we needed.

I was no more than 11-years-old at the time, but I fully understood what we were up against. In the blink of an eye, my youngest brother went to stay with my uncle. The rest of us were told to fend for ourselves.

My grandparents raised me and my brother and sisters the best way they knew how.

We were provided with a roof over our heads and food to eat; anything other than that, we were on our own. My grandparents took care of me until age 15, when I went to court to be emancipated. I thought that if I left it would be one less mouth to feed, so I moved out. I would still go by and visit grandma’s house. It was my second home.

Her love never came in more handy than when I was 13 and got really sick. I was throwing up blood. My energy level was low, I felt so week I could barely stand.

I had these symptoms for a couple of days and I couldn’t figure out what was causing them. I was rushed to the hospital after I passed out on the bedroom floor. My sisters and other family members were convinced that I was pregnant. My grandma keep telling them, “That is not the situation. It is something else wrong with this girl. She can’t even stand on her feet and keeps spiting up blood.”

When I got to the hospital they doctor ran some tests and he said that I was bleeding internally. I had to have surgery.

I can’t remember going into the operating room or anything that happened. When I woke up, I was in a lot of pain, and was surrounded by my family. I had a stomach ulcer from stress. I was weak because I had lost so much blood.

Grandma stayed there with me. Throughout the whole surgery she never left me.

Sometimes in my foggy haze from the drugs, I could hear her praying to God, asking Him to watch over me and guide me through the wilderness.

She would say, “I will pray for you, Krystal. That is all I can do for you. I’m to old to be worried about you and the decisions you make. You are grown now. I have to let you live your life.”

If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know where I would be. Julia is now 84. She is staying with my uncle George Jr. in Lathrop, Calif., about an hour away.

I don’t visit like I know I should. She has Alzheimer’s disease; sometimes she remembers me and sometimes she doesn’t. It hurts to see her like that. When I call to check on her, I say "Ma, how are you doing?" And she says, "I'm okay. The old lady is still perking." It always makes me smile to hear her say that.

I put her in all of my prayers, asking Allah to watch over her and continue to give her blessings.

About two years ago, I got a tattoo of her name with a dove and a heart on my shoulder. When I showed her, her exact words were: “I don’t know why you did that! Don’t you know that sh-- causes ink poisoning, stupid?” We laughed a long time about that.

Even though she can’t remember like she used to and through out all the sickness she has fought, she still manages to stay the same. I love my “ma” more than anything in this world. I would give my life for her.

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