My Grandmother Rose left Italy with a child and traveled across the Atlantic, through Ellis Island and then across the country by train to join her husband in Stockton, California. A year or so later, now with two children, she was a widow. She did not speak the language well, had the skills of a lady's maid and kitchen helper and very little education.
The trip I took this year gave me a new found respect for that journey. How frightened she must have been but how desperate for a better life. The mountain villages are tidy, picturesque and tight knit but poor. Her family were sharecroppers - they loved music and were pranksters, loving to tease each other, but they all wanted something better than just the hardscrabble existence the area offered to them.
Because Rose had the experiences she had, I am sitting here today. Well fed, well educated and the worst problem I have right now is an angry person in my life who is trying (and came darn close) to goad me into a fight.
God is with me, however, because when I slipped and almost got into it this morning I was unable to do so. This is a God thing. There are no coincidences. There are times, however, when God is anonymous. This was one of those times.
I am not a huge proponent of Dr Phil but one of the things he always says is that we teach people how to treat us. I have taught people, over the years, that if you keep pecking and pecking and pecking at me I will give in and engage.
My goal, for the new year, is to stop that behavior. It is not right. it is dishonest and it is unbecoming. To be goaded into an argument or pushed into a retaliation or to be manipulated into a confrontation is not something a 59 year old woman should experience.
I am who I am - I am a woman shaped by the experiences of the people I saw gathered around the graves of men dragged into the snow by the Nazi's 70 years ago. I am the product of the men and women who braved the crossing to a new country, scared and poor but determined to have something more in their lives than what was available in Italy at the time.
If I break, always allowing myself to give in to other people's whims and fancies, how I am carrying on their legacy of strength and determination?
So, once again, God steps in and protects me from myself. Once more time I am given the chance to be a woman of grace and dignity.
I think, just for today, I will take that opportunity.