The Last Lecture – Inspiration


Ryan Ripepi, EMC Staff Writer

Growing up, every child had that one person that they looked up to. You might have even wished to be just like them one day. You can probably name yours right now. Maybe it’s a celebrity such as Oprah Winfrey, a famous athlete such as Pele, or even a family member such as your grandmother. When you think about inspiration, what inspires us most are ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. Inspiration allows us to test our limits and push ourselves to achieve more goals. In my life, my greatest inspiration is my mom.

I was four years old when my mom passed away. She developed a rare case of pneumonia at the age of forty-one. I don’t remember my mom and can’t recall any memories of the four years I had with her. As 12 years have now passed, I rely on the many pictures and the stories people tell me about her to fill in those gaps. Being four years old, I hadn’t completely grasped what had happened according to my aunt, who is my mom’s sister. The next two years were filled with lots of tears, wishes, prayers, and balloons. I didn’t understand why this had to happen to me. I remember so many people greeting me and telling me how sorry they were for my loss and how amazing of a person my mom was. I used to get sad because I didn’t remember that about her, I couldn’t remember her at all. Each night my aunt and I would say a prayer and wish my mom the best up in heaven. On holidays we would buy a balloon from the grocery store and drive to her favorite spot and release the balloon in her memory. My dad and I moved to New York when I was six and we both started new lives.

Every year since then, I have visited my aunt and she has introduced me to handfuls of my mom’s friends. Every single one of them has had amazing things to say about her. Not only have they said that she had an amazing personality and had a smile that lit up any room, they’ve told me that she was the most kind, warmhearted, and most helpful woman that they’ve ever met. She was always eager to jump into new things, loved to help people whenever she could, and truly wanted to make the world a better place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these things over the past 12 years. And yet when I hear them, the biggest smile appears on my face and I think to myself, wow, that was my mom. My favorite memory that isn’t my own is that my mom used to love when the sun would set and the sky would turn pink. Growing up, my aunt said that whenever the sky is pink, Kristi is looking down from heaven, smiling at how amazing of a daughter she has. All of these memories and stories have been my childhood inspiration. Although they might not be my own, they have inspired me to be the person I am today. 

I love helping people whenever I can. It truly makes me feel like a better person. My mom and aunt grew up with a brother that has Down Syndrome. My aunt tells me that he was my mom’s best friend and wanted to make his life the best that it could be. My aunt says that my mom was always there standing up for him, always by his side. She believed that everyone should be treated equal no matter what. I strive to be just like this and continue on with what she left off. Through Best Buddies I do just that. I help others with special abilities who aren’t always treated the same. I have gotten the opportunity to become a leader with this organization and have become the president of my school chapter. I know my mom would be proud of everything that I have accomplished. The smile that I put on these kids faces each day truly empowers me to continue on with my mom’s legacy and I will forever believe that being kind to one another is the greatest gift you can give. 

Although my mom might not be here with me today, her spirit is still with me, inspiring me each and everyday. I will forever be grateful for the stories and memories others have shared with me. Now that I’m older, lots of people come up to me and tell me how much I resemble her, not only with my looks, but also with my positive and cheerful personality. I always like hearing this because it means I am achieving my goal, which inspires me even more.