I am fortunate enough to come from a long line of very strong women. There is a picture of me when I was little, with my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother, and my great-great grandmother. Unlike most children, my great, great grandmother lived until I was in the seventh grade and my great grandmother until I was in college. These women are fighters and they have made me who I am.
My great-great grandmother Sadie moved her family from Italy to America and raised a family in the midst of adversity and change in a strange new world. She was faced with a new language, no money, and with only the clothes on her back. She knew she wanted a better life for her family, and she had to pay the price for it. Lucky for me she did move here and one of her nine children had my great grandmother Anna.
My great grandmother lost her husband when they were in their thirties, had to carry on the family butcher shop and raise five children from fourteen years of age down to six months old. All of this was happening in New York City in the 1940’s; not the picture perfect white picket fence America people were flocking through Ellis Island to get too.
Her oldest, a daughter named Marie, is my grandmother. Being the oldest of five children who were fatherless this woman helped raise the other four children and hold the family together while my great grandmother dealt with the death of her husband. Ultimately my great grandmother moved the family to Connecticut where my grandmother met the boy next door.
She married the boy next door and when they were married only a few years, my grandfather was given six months to live. That was almost fifty years ago. He still drives my grandmother up the wall. My grandmother went to school, became a nurse, and raised two children. She took care of my great grandparents until they passed away in their 90’s. The matriarchal leader of our family, she’s the glue that holds us together during marriages, deaths, births, and all the crazy family stuff in-between.
Her oldest daughter is my mother Jo Ann. She married my father and had me and my sister. When I was nine and my sister six, my father left us and my mother had to leave Pennsylvania to go to Connecticut with two kids, no car, no education, and forty dollars in her wallet. We managed. There were days when you wouldn’t think we could, but we did.
Then there is me. I had four women ahead of me paving the way to my success. I am the first one to go college and I am a few semesters from graduation making myself the first college graduate. I am happily married and own my own home (well, my husband and I along with the bank) and two vehicles. I work as a paralegal in a prestigious law firm, full time during the day. I successfully raised a yellow Labrador retriever who sometimes listens to me. I have half a book written. Maybe someone will publish it, but it should come as no surprise that it is a book about a strong Italian-American family and the women who hold it together. We write about what we know, and I know a long line of strong women.