In these times that seem so desperate, I reflect upon the life of my Grandmother, Josephine Paparella, who came to this country at the age of sixteen searching for a better life. She married a hometown sweetheart, Anthony Mignanelli and began a family in Pennsylvania. Within months after bearing their eighth child her husband was killed, leaving her alone to raise the children through the Depression. She grew the family’s food and baked bread in an outdoor oven selling it to make ends meet. She did this with the support of family and community, but she also did it against mounting pressures of a society fearing immigrants and a government who thought it best to take her children away.
She fought to keep her children and she won. Much of this I learned after she had passed.
What I knew of her was that she loved me. What I know is that she did not express remorse for her lot in life. She cared if I was warm and fed. She cared about her children, the garden and her neighbors. What I know is that she taught me about determination and will through her actions. What I know is that she did her best. I have heard that she used an Italian expression very often. It loosely translated to this: “If everyone were to leave their troubles in the middle of a room, you would pick your own troubles and carry on.”
She carried on. She endured. And I carry her legacy proudly.
These are desperate times, but the solutions remain in front of us. Love. Carry your burdens with dignity and hope. Work to make it better, not just for yourself, but also for everyone. We have fallen prey to the worst the human spirit offers. Now it is our turn to rise to the best. I remembered my Grandmother today as I awoke to a new reality before me. The floods and constant rain have made it a desperate time here. It is much the same or worse in many places throughout the world. I refuse to be desperate. As long as I have a heart full of love, as long as I give myself to appreciation for this life and for the Good that continues to find me, I am at peace.
Armed with peace, we will be able to make a way out of no way. Arm yourself with peace, my friends, and roll up your sleeves. There is work ahead. Remember those who came before you and work for those yet unborn. Let love win.