When I am reminded of where my family started is a very strong motivator for me. Both of my parents come from first generation immigrants; both grandfathers were pre-WWII and brought my grandmothers after meeting them during their service.
This past weekend I went to NYC to celebrate a friends birthday. During the day on Saturday I had some time to be a tourist and visit Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty. This statue is a symbol of freedom and was the symbol of life for my grandmother, Susan Portaro.
When I was a little girl she was interviewed by a local news station and showed pictures of her voyage elaborated to the reporter about how her experience of seeing the Statue of Liberty was a life changing moment. She said that she knew her life was forever changed because she was in the land of the free because of brave men like my grandfather. She placed a great amount of hope for her future on the idea that the US, my grandfather and that statue would not fail her.
I am proud to also share that my grandfather loved her like crazy. He showered her with love letters, affection, flowers, drawings and paintings of her, etc. He truly adored everything about her. Even after she passed he even carried wedding band with him in his wallet, just so he was never without her.
This love story came in the complete package of the traditional American dream. Living in a cute house, have a child, and a dog. And as I already referenced, this American dream package came complete with a huge bow of love.
Love and happiness were my grandmothers motivators for leaving everything she ever knew and traveled from Europe to New York. Those motivations outweighed any possible fear she had. She was so incredibly brave and felt connected to the statue because she was able to see past her fears. As her ship approached the statue she said she would never forget how beautiful it was. And she also said that at that moment she (the statue) was a part of her and that she (my grandmother) was now a part of the statue.
When I was little and watched this interview I thought that she meant that the statue was beautiful because of the design of it. And now as an adult I realize how much was actually riding on my grandmothers bravery and trust about the ideas that the US and my grandfather would give her the life she dreamed of. A life where she was free, loved, received proper medical treatments, and found true happiness.
Calling the Statue of Liberty beautiful was a way for her to express what her thoughts were about the physical appearance of the statue itself. The statue was also beautiful to her because of her personal dreams which were metaphorically placed on the statue that day as she stepped foot on US soil for the very first time.
Imagining the amount of dreams and emotions fueling that moment gives me a great perspective for my life today and inspiration on how to live my life very day. The rewards of the voyage were worth the risk for her … It could have gone horribly wrong. Not every immigrant comes to the US and has the life she did. She was incredibly lucky and blessed.
To find myself back in NYC in the same place my grandmother got off of the boat was extremely inspiring to me. I couldn’t get over the fact I was standing in the same park where her American dream officially started.
Here is a challenge to anyone that read this far into my blog post.
First, thank you for reading my blog, it means a lot. Second, challenge yourself to remember where you and your family come from. When you do this with an open heart and mind you’ll reconnect with your core motivators to get you through today or any day you are struggling.