i-ItalyNY - 2016 - 05|06 - page 11

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June-July 2016
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i-
Italyny
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11
Immigrant stories
Amanda:
[I remember you telling me] the
story of our two great grandmothers, who
both came here very young…
Matilda:
They were in their 20s … they both
had a very terrible trip, on the steerage in the
bottom of the ship. It was terrible.
Amanda:
That’s what blows me away,
thinking about how they physically got here.
[And then] in school learning about the
conditions in the ships that people did come
across in, and the length of that journey and
how scary it must have been not knowing
where they were going or if you could even
get in once you got here.
Matilda:
That’s right. And they both went
to Ellis Island and they were completely
examined …And my mother would tell me
the story of two young girls, two sisters…
because they had a rash on their face, they
Matilda:
Every granddaughter got
a copy of this letter, “A Letter to
My Granddaughters”, written in
November 1999. It begins like this:
I’m writing this letter to you, and all our
other granddaughters…
I think this paragraph right here is
very meaningful, listen:
At some point you will probably find that
filling your own basket with goodies,
satisfying your own winsome desires for
personal comfort will not be enough to
make you truly happy.
Chances are you will discover that to
be fulfilled you will have to lean on
some fundamental belief some basic
purpose in life that gives you a sense of
meaningfulness and significance, and
that answers the question: “Why were
we born in the first place?” Without an
answer, all the accumulating of material
goods can become nothing more than a
frantic attempt to fill the space between
birth and eternity.
This is very deep.
Amanda:
I read it once a week. And
then this is the best part, this is where
he breaks it down.
It happens to a lot of people who spend
their whole life so involved with the
challenge of just staying alive in some
decent condition that they don’t get to
think much about why they were born
in the first place. Others get past the
struggle then wander aimlessly as they
approach the end, satisfying whatever
appetites are left until there are no more
appetites or no strength to feed them.
They look for answers in the world around
them, in the words of wiser people and the
leadership of some heroic figure. But the
answers prove elusive. No Moses comes
to them, and they die without ever having
an answer. Don’t let it happen to you. You
don’t need another Moses… God knows
how grand the world is and how small we
are. He’s not going to expect any miracles
from you, all he asks is that you do what
you can. If you rise to great power and are
able to end a war - or be a governor - or
find a cure for cancer, wonderful. But if
the best you can do is comfort a single
soul in need of simple friendship, that’s
wonderful too…If one does what one can
to make things better, it’s all God will
ask. It’s a job that you can work at every
minute that you live, and it’s a job that
can make your life worth living, no matter
what else happens. So live, learn, love.
And have a happy new millennium. -
— Grandpa Mario.
It’s so simple and makes so much
sense. And for a recent college
graduate, they are the words of
wisdom that you need.
“ALetter ToMyGranddaughters”
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