Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Family Story

I come from a very colorful family. I think about this a lot, but a little incident today reminded me of one particularly colorful anecdote.

I shall tell you about it. ;D

My dad's parents immigrated to the U.S. from Italy back in the early 1920's. My mom's dad was 100% Italian and my mom's mother was 100% Irish. On St. Patrick's Day, I was thinking about the grandness of immigration, so I wrote on Twitter: "I am one quarter Irish and three quarters Italian. Magic like that doesn't happen without immigrants." Feeling happy inside, I went about my St. Paddy's Day, celebrating with a bit of Maker's Mark in the evening.

Anyway... Today, some cranky dude found my remark and evidently wanted to rain on my parade, so he replied: "No. ur 100% (insert American flag emoji here) and don't forget that! U didn't come off the boat and ur family did it the legal way"

Of course, I should have ignored this cranky dude, who is probably worried about his health insurance, but I didn't ignore him, because it is hard for me to ignore stuff. So, I said: "Actually, my grandpa did not exactly do it the legal way and almost got deported. (insert winky face emoji here) #ImmigrantsForeva"

The poor man (who was probably home sick with the flu and wondering if he will still have hospital coverage in 2018) apparently was not in the mood for me and my friendly attitude, and he came back with: "ur a retard for even responding with that! Mine did and is listed at Ellis Island. U should be ashamed"

Unbeknownst to my fellow second-generation American, I don't really shame that easily.  So, I said: "Mine is, too, actually. It's a long story, from long ago. All my best to you." And then I closed with: "And -- yes -- I am (insert American flag emoji here), but I'm very proud of my Italian/Irish heritage. It is part of my identity."

Then the dude did not say anything else, because -- after all -- we women of Italian/Irish descent can be very exasperating.

I will now fill in the blanks of this story for you, so you will know how I almost didn't get the chance to exist and have the opportunity to entertain and exasperate you.

The grandfather to whom I am referring in the conversation above was my dad's father. He was a very unique individual -- full of fun and mischief. He grew up with my grandmother in a little village in Italy, and I guess he was quite smitten with her, because when she decided to come to America, he decided to follow her.

Initially, all was kosher. She was sponsored by some of her relatives already living in this country, and he was sponsored by some of his relatives. (They were not married, as yet, being only 18, or so.) My grandmother arrived here first, landing at Ellis Island. My grandfather followed a while later. And I guess when you arrived, you were asked by the immigration authorities about your destination and who was meeting you. The information you gave was supposed to match up with your application paperwork. My grandfather, though, wanting to be with my grandmother, gave them her family's name. He told me that he was then led to another facility, where he thought he would meet up with my grandmother's relatives. Unbeknownst to him, though, this facility was a jail and he was going to be shipped back to Italy forth-with. He just sat there quite contentedly -- with no idea of the fate which was set to befall him. Thankfully, various family members on both his and my grandmother's side somehow figured out what had happened and paid a visit to the immigration authorities to straighten everything out. It was my impression that some kind of bribe was involved, but I'm unsure. My grandfather was set free, heading home with his relatives for a nice meal and a good scolding of the kind only full-blooded Italian women can deliver.

My grandfather was, indeed, a rascal. All. His. Life. He even made moonshine during prohibition. Heck, he did a lot of crazy things. He was a decent guy, though. He never hurt anybody and -- together with my grandmother (who was an outstanding saint of a woman) -- raised an excellent son and daughter. His children's children all went to college. Our family is very close and fun and -- surprisingly -- VERY law-abiding.

So, here's to the immigrants! (Even the ones who don't take a completely straight and narrow road to get here.) <3

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