Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Mothers (05/02/05)
TITLE: Making Much Out of Little
By Leticia Caroccio
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“Grandma was a strange lady”, that’s what I always heard while growing up in Brooklyn. Everyone in the neighborhood said so. She never talked to anyone, even if they called out to her. Because of life circumstances, Grandma lived in a cold, silent world. Grandma cut everyone out of her life, severing relationships with family and friends. Most people really don’t know the secrets that lie behind closed doors. Had they known the truth, Grandma wouldn’t have been judged with such cruelty.
Grandma grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn during the 1940s. Looking at the old photographs in my mom’s albums made me wonder if it rained a lot in Brooklyn. Perhaps it was that a dark cloud always seemed to settle over Grandma’s head.
My mom doesn’t talk about it often, but when she does share pieces of Grandma’s life, my heart breaks as I imagine all the heartache she endured. According to mom, my Grandfather had various torrid affairs with women he met while at work. But instead of the taunting eyes and gossiping mouths turning on the perpetrator, my Grandma suffered the brunt of their punishment.
She was accused of not being woman enough to keep a man at home. Some went as far as spitting on the sidewalk as she walked by them. Grandma never set the record straight. She never defended herself. Instead, she built a wall around her heart that kept everyone out. She concentrated on raising her family the best way that she could. With what little she could do, she placed her family first.
The only thing that she knew to do was to send her children to Sunday School. Every Sunday, Grandma would get up in silence, make breakfast for mom and her sisters, pressed their Sunday best, and send them off. Mom and her two younger sisters would hold hands as they walked down Flatbush Avenue to the local church. After the service, they would again hold hands as they made their way back home.
As I look back at what my mom must’ve gone through herself, living in silence at home, I wonder how they survived at all. My mom, as the eldest of the three sisters, became the second parent in the home, taking responsibility for the younger ones. But later in life, this took a toll on her. My mom suffered from severe depression and there were many times that this depression wouldn’t let her get out of bed. Her days were dark.
Later, my mom would marry a cold hearted man that further sunk her into the pit of despair that continued to emotionally cripple her. She, too, had three little girls that she tried to care for. Being the youngest of the three, I don’t remember a lot. I do have sketchy memories that include a phone ringing in the distance, my sisters crying and men in white coats carrying my mom out to an ambulance. I also remember being in church every Sunday.
There is so much that even today, I do not have answers to. But this one thing I do know: that Grandma did the best she could in raising her family alone. The only thing that she could do was to send her daughters to Sunday School. She was faithful in this one thing. She knew that there was something there. In more ways than one, my mom followed in Grandma’s footsteps.
She married a man that did not love her. She, too, only had daughters. My mom inherited Grandma’s mental disease. And my mom also never neglected to send her daughters to church. Grandma and mom did what little they could do. But God, in His infinite wisdom, took those small sacrifices and made so much out of it. My sisters and I all serve the Lord. We have triumphed in the face of our own adversities. We love the Lord, are in ministry and are raising children who love God.
I look back at the little that Grandma and mom could give and see that all has come back multiplied by a million. God has been faithful. He never forgot the poor sacrifices of these two tortured souls and turned them into victorious testimonies that my own girls marvel at. Grandma and mom may not know it today, as they are both with the Lord, but they triumphed mightily. I am the fruit of the little that they could do.
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