My parents who were immigrants to this Country and my handicapped sister provided the greatest influences in my life. My mother went to work in a "sweat shop" at the age of 52 in order to help pay for my education. She was a beautiful woman who loved life despite bouts with depression. I can still hear her singing Italian arias.
My father was a quiet, observant and very wise man of "very few words". He was devoted to his family and providing for them. He had a strength of character which I hope I've been able to inherit and he was very principled in living his life. He was an honorable man.
My sister contracted polio when she was only eight years of age. She was never without pain througout her life and used the phrase "and this too shall pass" to help her and others deal with their own pain. Despite her handicap, she was fiercely independent, creative, loving and warm with a feisty bit of anger thrown in. She greatly influenced my life and the life of the family because of the attention that she required. There were times when i truly resented her for the care I was expected to render but ultimately, she was my best friend growing up. She taught me how to live, love and enjoy life to the fullest.
I was the only one in my family to be able to go to college. Had my eldest sister been able to go, she probably would have been a 4.0 student. She is extremely bright and now at the age of 84 her mind is still active despite her bout with macular degeneration which has left her all but blind. She became my substitute mother and introduced me to a world outside of the Italian culture.