“I had an amazing life. I had wonderful husband I loved more than anything else is the world. I had six beautiful children, who gave me nine grandchildren, and the strength I needed throughout my life. I have regrets; but everyone does. I believe my life was wonderful because everyday I pray for my family and thank God for what he has given me throughout the years. The good times, and the difficult ones – everything was a blessing.” Winnie, now 75 years old, believes she has been blessed everyday of her life. It sounded surprising after I interviewed her to hear how religious and optimistic she is about her life. You see, I knew her as my quirky grandmother – who used to crotchet dolls on top of soda bottles, or kiss a penny that was heads up on the floor – but I never knew her as who she really was. She was a daughter, a mother, a lover, widow, grandmother and a person learning and experiencing life as exciting and joyful every new day. Interviewing my grandmother changed my perspective on who she was, and what she means to me, forever.
Winnie had never moved out of Hoboken, New Jersey. She was born here, made her first friends here, raised her children here, and planned to die here. She was born in February of 1931 – in the beginning of the Great Depression. She said that in the beginning of her life her parents made her very sheltered from the horrors of the depression. One of her most vivid memories of her childhood involved her walking with her mother down the street and seeing children on the side of the street looking unhappy. When she asked her mother why the children looked so unhappy her mother told her that, “Some daddies can’t find work to help feed his family.” She remembers with asking, “Why can’t our daddy help feed those families?” And her mother said that they only have what they need to survive; and that if she had any food to give to anyone, she would. Winnie told me that when she was younger she never realizes that her...
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