Concetta and I
By: Kylie Miller
(Written as a high school junior project.)


       I first want to thank my grandma Connie for always showing me that I can do whatever I believe in, and to always be able to laugh no matter the circumstances. You have shown me how to be happy in all walks of life, and I will forever be grateful.
       I would also like to thank my parents for always taking me to see my grandmother, even when I was horrible in the car on the way there, you da best.
       Lastly, I want to thank Mr. Sutterfield for helping my writing become what it is today, and never giving up on me even when my writing was pretty rough at the beginning of the year. 

, ,    
      We are picking up my grandmother in Danville, Illinois on the way to my sister's pinning ceremony for nursing school. We hug and kiss my grandmother when we get to her house that I know so well. We go through the back door into the small hallway like kitchen, walk into the dining room and continue into the living room. We sit on the couches that have been there since I was a child and I look at the quilts and pictures around the room. We talk for a while until my grandmother goes and gets dressed. She comes out in a red dress with her white-silver hair laying perfectly, but I know by the time we get to the ceremony the back of her hair will be sticking up just as it always is. She tells us we need to pick up a card on the way to the ceremony and we do, but she continues to tell us even after we have already picked it up. We remind her that we have it and she remembers again. "Forgetfulness is normal with someone her age" I remind myself, but it doesn'
t make me any less worried that I won 't have enough time with her.
      My grandma Connie is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Her smile lines and silver hair may show her age, but also shows her true beauty. Concetta Coniglio shines from the inside and has shown me how to shine ever since I was born, even if she might not have known it. My grandmother's past is full of experience; she is a first generation Italian American. Her parents, Gaetano and Rosa Coniglio immigrated from Serradifalco, Sicily and settled in Buffalo, New York. This is where my grandmother comes from, but she is much more than that. She is a grandmother to 13 and a great-grandmother to 19. She is a quilter, a baker, a twin and a mother. She is everything I want to be and more. That is my grandmother, and her life is full of history and insight.

At my sister's pinning ceremony.


My grandmother was born in 1925, and for comparison during 1925 Benito Mussolini had just become the dictator of Italy and Calvin Coolidge was the president of the United States. 1925 was a very different time from now, and my grandmother's childhood was very different than mine. Connie grew up in Buffalo, New York, just across the Canadian border. As a child she would work on a strawberry farm as a migrant worker every summer with her family. She laughed her contagious laugh as she told me the story of how she would throw strawberries at her Aunt Millie and Millie would get mad at her because she would be covered in them. During Grandma Connie's childhood segregation was prominent, and when a black family moved into her neighborhood when she was in eighth grade she said, "everybody was shocked and didn't know how to react, but the kid Frank was nice and kind. He was nothing like what you heard people talk about". Today there are rallies and protests such as in Ferguson, Missouri because the idea of racism is so insane, but back then they never knew any different.

     Connie had a twin, my aunt Mary; they were very close but would still mess around just as siblings do. My grandmother and Mary would steal each other's boyfriends and hang out at Crystal Beach as teenagers. Her time may have been different, but her past is full of experiences, and show all she has been through.

My grandmother has been quilting for years. I can't remember a time when there weren't quilts displayed in her home, or her talking about quilting patterns. We have many quilts made by her in our home, and they mean everything to us. They're intricate, handmade and show the love of our grandmother in them. They're as delicate as butterfly's wings and beautiful just like my grandmother. My grandmother is a quilter, and that is part of who she is.


My grandmother Concetta
on Palm Sunday 1943

        I grew up in a small town called Mooresville, Indiana, about an hour and a half away from an even smaller town called Danville, Illinois. This is where my grandmother lived and where my second home is. We would make weekend trips to Danville occasionally and go to Sunday dinners at Grandma Connie's house. Our family always got there before everyone else and we would spend time with my grandmother. My sister and I would beg my dad to take us to Custard Cup before dinner and sometimes we would sneak Grandma a cup of vanilla ice cream because my Aunt Jackie would never allow her to have it. Before dinner I would play with my cousins in the backyard while my aunts and my grandmother would cook in the tiny kitchen that could fit no more than 3 to 4 people at one time. We would set up extra tables in the living room and eat because there wasn't enough room in the dining room for the whole family to eat. After dinner we would stay awhile until we had to go. These are some of my best memories at my grandmother's house, and this is where I always saw her. She would sit in her spot on the flowered couches inside and when it was warm she would sit on the back porch on the bench and sunbathe while watching us kids play. She was happy, and I was always able to see the beauty in how content she was. 

,     My grandmother and I are in the kitchen baking cookies. She helps me onto the stepping stool so I can reach the wooden counter in the middle of our kitchen. She starts teaching me how to make the dough and roll it out into little snakes with my hands, this is my favorite part. The dough sticks on my hands and of course there is flour all over the counter. We put the cookies on a pan and let them sit out until they are ready to bake. I help grandma Connie clean up the mess and have fun while doing so. The rest of her stay we play dress up, and she picks me up and talks to me. She’s the perfect grandmother in my eyes, and nobody could change how I saw her.

        When I asked my Grandmother how she feels about today’s culture, she said, "well children know a lot more nowadays” and I think that explains a lot. In today’s culture kids are exposed much more to the world, but when my Grandmother grew up she did not have the resources I have. My grandmother is a simple woman, she has told me her perfect day is everyday. Concetta is 90 years old, and she said, "Everyday is perfect at my age". She lives in the moment and doesn't regret much, but wishes she had put herself out there more. Her life is full of lessons to be learned, and listening to her tell stories is one of my favorite things to do. I could not imagine never having listened to my grandmother's stories about her life. She grew up so different from me, and it puts into perspective how different generations grow up.


  My Grandmother became a nurse when she moved to Danville. She had never dreamed she would be a nurse, but once she divorced she needed a job. She is a kind-hearted woman, and she was a wonderful nurse, she was even once written about in the Danville newspaper. My sister is now a nurse, and she talks to my grandmother about it very often. Being a nurse in my grandmother's time was much different from how it is now, but it is still so cool to see the connection between generations.
          Even though she is 90, my grandmother feels "perfectly great" about her aging. She is still able to walk and talk, but wishes she did not have to have someone take her to the store, and church. Age is just a number, and I believe my Grandmother portrays that perfectly. She is full of life, and never regrets a moment of hers. She has a young soul, and I admire that so much. Most people are so afraid of dying, but in my Grandmother I see no fear. She seems to live completely in the moment, and that is what I wish to always be like. When I think of my grandmother, I will always think of a Maya Angelou quote, "Nothing can dim the light that shines from within." My Grandmother is unable to be dimmed. When I asked my grandmother, "What is your favorite quote?" she first thought I had said, "What is your favorite quilt?" This made me laugh to no end, but then she thought for a second. She laughed and said she didn't really have a favorite quote, but then laughed and said "Well, I guess 'God Bless America' is that a quote?" and I think that shows so much of my grandmother's character. She's a simple woman who will always find humor in every moment, and help me find it too.





        Kylie Miller is a junior at Shiloh Christian School in Springdale, Arkansas. She was born in Mooresville, Indiana and lived there until she was 14. She plans on going to college to become a journalist. She also loves Beyonce, coffee and art.

''This makes America great again” ~ Olivia Barnes

''Brought tears to my eyes"
- Mr. Sutterfield

''Better than Chick-fil-a cookies'' - Harper Whaley



Click here for Connie's page.


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