LEE: In honor of my mom

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following essay was submitted as part of a campaign organized by Atlanta Radio Korea and Korean Air to solicit letters thanking their loved ones. At age 14, Grace Lee was the youngest person to make a submission.

What words come to mind when you imagine Darry Curtis from "The Outsiders?" Muscular, athletic and smart may come to mind, but the one word that defines him to me is sacrifice. Although Darry had the opportunity to go to college on a football scholarship, he declined the offer so that he could take care of his two younger brothers.

He also arduously works two jobs in order to keep the family together and he had to give up so many things for his family members. I have found a lot of similarities between Darry and my mom.

My mom had to give up so many things for me. Before I was born, she had lived a life of luxury. She had the perfect job that provided her with a generous amount of money, and she wore the nicest clothes. Literally all her clothes were brand name clothes. She also frequently went on vacation and traveled to all kinds of different countries in Europe, Asia, and most of states in the U.S. However, after I was born, she decided to put her past life behind her and focus on raising me.

This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but for me, sacrificing your perfect life for someone is quite unimaginable. Nevertheless, my mom did this without thinking twice about it. She gave up her life for someone that she didn't even know yet. I was a baby who didn't even know who my mom was or how much she loved me, but despite all this, my mom devoted her life to me. Now, I think of why my mom could have done such a selfless thing. Maybe it's because after I was born, my mom accepted a job that will last a lifetime.

Even now, my mom still continues being the best mom she can be. However, being a teenager, I tend to get into arguments with my mom almost every day over the most stupid and minor reasons. However, when my mom nags at me to do things that I don't want to do, they are usually for my benefit. My mom thinks ahead and always seems to know what the best is for me in all circumstances. Despite knowing this, there are also times when I yell at her and treat her rudely.

But she looks past all this and provides me with everything that I need and more. To elaborate, my mom has graciously provided me with a tutor so that I can become a better student. Even though my mom spends myriad amounts of money on me for tutoring, I don't always try my best because I get lazy. I can be so selfish sometimes by doing the things I want to do and making everything about me, when my mom gave up everything for me so that I can be the best that I can be. My mom even works a new job so that I can have all the clothes and useless things that make me happy. Her effort towards me is infinite.

My mom also does the little things for me that no one else might think to do. For example, every single day without fail, my mom always asks me how my day was even though I usually say, "it was good." When she asks me this, she isn't asking a rhetorical question -- she is genuinely interested. She also wakes up earlier than me almost every single day and packs my lunch and makes my breakfast without my asking her to. I can't imagine why anyone would want to do that, especially for an undeserving person such as myself. This is one of the many reasons why I'm grateful for my mom.

Another characteristic of my mom that really makes me grateful for her is how she is always supportive of anything I do. I am fortunate to have a mom like this because there are millions of parents in the world who abuse and emotionally hurt their children for no reason. The parents who hurt their children put them down in ways that are unimaginable. Some parents neglect their children and abuse them leaving the children unable to do what they really want to do in life.

Instead, they are forced to live an unhappy life filled with regrets for not being able to live the life that they desire. In contrast to this, my mom has continually supported me throughout all my journeys in my 14 years of life. I'm blessed to have a mom who would always be there for me whatever the circumstance and always help me be my best.

I think everyone should take time from their lives to thank their parents because they deserve it and more.

Grace Lee is a rising sophomore at Peachtree Ridge High School. She originally wrote this essay for her language arts class.