Car crashes and thank yous

op-ed

How a potential deadly car crash involving my grandmother allowed me to realize what really matters

By Daniel Gurevitch

My grandmother has survived a forced exile from her home country, Egypt, due to religious persecution. She has fought off leukemia for the past five years. Even at 85 years old, she has remained sharp and active, participating in book clubs, stock clubs, bridge clubs, political discussion groups and volunteer organizations. Something as mundane as a Ford Fusion speeding around the corner of 21st and Chestnut streets should not have left her with half her hair shaved off, tubes connected to her brain and a ventilator strapped to her face. My grandmother wanted to buy groceries. She now rests at Penn Presbyterian Hospital with a broken neck, clavicle, collarbone, checkbone, and a shattered eye socket.

Growing up, I never understood how people failed to get along with their grandparents. My friends would tell horrific stories where they were forced to take excruciating long drives to see their mean, judgmental and boring grandparents. This all sounded like an oxymoron to me. I realized, though, that I was and am lucky. Given that I share my middle name, Andre, with my grandmother’s first name, I was bound to have a close connection with her. Little did I know that as I grew older, my connection with my grandmother would become so much more than a shared name. My grandmother became my friend, my closest confidant (sorry, Mom) and my role model.

My grandmother’s sudden and surprising health scare has placed many things in perspective for me. Cultures like ours that place a premium on high earnings can easily create atmospheres in which we place excessive amounts of attention on job applications and taking “the next step.” As busy individuals, we tend to lose sight of the important relationships that we form, focusing too much on our academic and professional next step. Personally, while I care about my academics, I know that, 10 years from now, I will not remember one homework that stumped me. I will, however, remember my grandmother and my friends who supported me through this time.

Perhaps, more importantly, I have learned the value in saying, “Thank you.” The ease at which it takes to say these two words draws no parallels to their effect on other people. Saying thank you is easy; hearing a thank you, gratifying. Start saying thank you to the barista who makes your morning coffee. Start saying thank you to the bus and Uber drivers who deliver you to where you need to be. Start saying thank you to your friends, family members and coworkers for all the little things they do for you that you have come to take for granted.

My grandmother’s health scare has led me to say “thank you” more as of late. I want to thank my friends, family members and professors who have supported and aided me as I struggle through this time. Thank you to the witnesses who rushed to my grandmother’s aid as soon as her body fell to the ground. Thank you to the nurses who spend hours upon hours ensuring that my grandmother slowly but steadily recovers.

And to Grandma, thank you for always helping me with my French homework, for always knocking some common sense into me, and for always buying me clothes I didn’t even know I needed. I hope you will be able to read this column soon.

The driver who left my grandmother in the hospital quickly fled the scene and has yet to be found by the police. If anyone has information pertaining to the incident, I ask that you please call the police at 215-686-TIPS. If not, please share, repost, and like this article with as many people as possible to ensure that we can find somebody with information. Finally, I have one request on behalf of my grandmother: For the past year, my grandmother has been writing stories about her life experiences to post on her own blog. If you could go and check it out, my family would all really appreciate it. It would mean the world to her to see when she wakes up. ••

Daniel Andre Gurevitch is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying political science.