Dear Montecito: Shaye Grant

By Stella Haffner   |   December 24, 2020

We’ve heard from a variety of different perspectives in this column, giving us a sense of how each person’s relationship with their hometown changed after heading off into the bigger world. We’ve heard from Clay Rodgers, whose relationship with Montecito and his music career was complicated by natural disasters. We’ve heard from Julia Kupiec, who reflected on the striking privilege of our hometown. With distance comes clarity – wisdom known to astronauts and young adults alike. This week, we’re hearing from Shaye Grant in a letter about relationships and the memories we hold on to.

Dear Montecito,

I remember when my mom and I first moved to Montecito. Honestly, I was nervous. I had never been in a town so big before. Before moving to Montecito, I had lived in a small community up north. It was called Oakdale, California. I lived there for a few years before moving to another small town, this time just outside of Palmdale, California.

It was around the middle of the school year, when I was in first grade, that my mom made the decision to move to Montecito. She wanted me to attend Montecito Union School. I remember being upset because this meant I would have to leave my old school and all my friends. However, when I grew older, I understood why my mom had made the decision for us to leave. I can now appreciate that Montecito Union was the best possible education I could have gotten as a kid, and that it led me to where I am today.

My mom worked hard for us to be able to live in Montecito. She held three different jobs while also going to Santa Barbara City College to earn her degree in radiologic technologies. We often joked that we would graduate college together, but instead, my mom earned her degree at the same time I was graduating from Montecito Union. I remember standing outside Giovanni’s on Coast Village Road, posing together, her with her college diploma and me with mine from Montecito Union. We had a lot of great memories on Coast Village Road, as do many other Montecito families.

In February of 2019, my junior year of high school, we learned my mom had a rare form of skin cancer called metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. It was rough for a while, and unfortunately we lost her that April. 

I think the relationship you have with your mother is always the most complicated one of all. I loved my mom more than anything in the world. But sometimes she was not the best person to be around or even the person I should have been looking up to as a role model in my life. At the same time, she was all I had. She was my shoulder to cry on and she always, always had my back right until the very end. We laughed together and cried together. We even graduated together. I will never stop loving her and appreciating all that she did for me. I was so upset when she passed. It was agony losing her, being afraid that our memories and all that we went through would slip away too.

But, even though I ended up moving in with family members in Carpinteria, I still drive through Montecito every time I go to school or to work. And, as cheesy as it sounds, driving through town is kind of like saying hi to an old friend. Like I said, I have a lot of memories from back when I lived in Montecito, which I hold closely in my heart. Even when I grow up and move away from town, I will always remember the times my mom and I shared together in Montecito.


Shaye Grant 


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