Our characters and accomplishments are not created in a vacuum: We are what we are because of those who have gone before us and paved the way, making sacrifices and allowing us to stand on their shoulders and achieve things they dreamed for us.
So when we celebrate major milestones, the people who have helped us succeed are a vital part of our celebrations.
For Vana Ebrahimi and her brother, that included their parents and their grandpa, 86-year-old Hayrik Abnous. Abnous and his wife moved from Iran to the United States in 1989, and three years later Ebrahimi’s parents followed.
“For my parents it was a crazy adjustment being in an all-new country,” Ebrahimi told Good Morning America. “They worked seven days a week and did everything they could for us to get the best education. They sacrificed a lot of themselves for us to be on the right steps.”
Ebrahimi and her brother are first-generation college graduates this year, and they’re doing their families very proud by getting their degrees: Ebrahimi with a law degree and her brother with a medical degree.
While their degrees were years in the making, two things happened recently that changed the way the siblings would be able to celebrate their graduations.
First, their grandfather experienced a fall and broke his leg and hip. He’s been on the mend, and is currently living in a nursing home.
“My grandpa is everyone’s rock,” Ebrahimi said. “He’s a happy-go-lucky guy. He always has a smile on.”
“People tell me I’m always smiling and I tell them, ‘That’s my grandpa.’ It’s a special trait we got from him to be able to find the silver lining in everything.”
Second, everything started shutting down. Graduations were canceled, leaving students to come up with their own ceremonies.
But Abnous taught his grandkids to make the best of things, to always look for the silver lining — so they did, and they made sure to include him in their celebration.
“We just decided since we’re both graduating, let’s go and surprise him and wear our cap and gowns,” Ebrahimi told KTLA-TV. “It was a big deal for us to include him.”
A nurse brought Abnous to a glass door so he could see his grandkids in their graduation regalia and share that special moment with them from the safety of the building.
He was elated, and his big smile said it all — but soon after, tears followed, proving just how much this moment meant to him.
@vanaebPart 3: We did it, grandpa! ##graduation ##classof2020 ##lawyer ##doctor ##jd ##foryou ##foryoupage ##viral ##family ##love ##rona ##coronavirus ##quarantine♬ You Are The Reason – Calum Scott
“It was heartbreaking but cute at the same time,” Ebrahimi said. “It was a surreal feeling for us both. It’s the American dream.”
Ebrahimi knew her grandpa was proud and she was thankful for the opportunity to include him as well as her other family members, knowing that it was because of them that she and her brother were able to get their degrees.
“Coming to this country was a tough time for them,” she explained. “It’s nice to feel like we did our part and this is our thank you to them for doing theirs for us.
“You hear all the stories about their struggles and it’s like we did this. Not just me and my brother … my parents, my grandparents, my family.”
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