Growing up I was acutely aware that I was the granddaughter of immigrants from Eastern Europe. My mother was quite proud of her background and upbringing. She taught me and my brothers to be aspirational just as her father had once instructed her. Mama and her siblings loved the United States of America with all of their hearts. Her brothers eagerly enlisted in the military at the outbreak of World War II. Mama got tears in her eyes recalling Pearl Harbor and the time that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt traveled down Navigation Street near her childhood home. Being an American citizen was a source of great pride to her. She felt that only in this country would she have been able to accomplish as much as she eventually did. She instilled in me a feeling that I would have the power to accomplish anything if only I worked hard. In only one generation removed from my grandparents my cousins and I have achieved the American dream that first brought my grandparents across the ocean.
The other day I watched the movie Brooklyn which was billed as a love story but ended up being so much more for me. The heroine was a young girl who decided to leave the suffocating environment of her home in Ireland in search of a better life in the USA. I don’t want to post any spoilers for the movie but suffice it to say that the film beautifully depicted the struggles that immigrants to our country so often endure. I found myself constantly thinking about my grandparents in ways that had rarely occurred to me before. I was particularly conscious of just how incredible my grandmother’s journey had been. Continue reading “Aspirations”