Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Rosetta's mother and sister Jean in the 1940s in Florida
Every year Rosetta's brother Al made it a point to send his mother Mathilda and his sister Jean to Florida during the harsh Chicago winters. Jean was eighteen when Rosetta was born, and as the oldest of ten children she had been a little mom to several of her siblings. Jean's help made it easier for her mother to care for so many kids, and Al always treated her as a second mother.

Traveling by air in the 1940s  was far from the norm, but Al knew the trip by train had become very taxing for his mother. Although it was extremely expensive in those days, he convinced her that it was the only way to go. He drove them to the airport and as they sat in the passenger area waiting to board the plane, Mathilda was mentally prepared for the adventure of actually flying through the air.

Mathilda, a very little woman, was small but mighty. To give you an idea, Jean was only five feet tall, and you can see how much shorter her mother was.

However, there was a young couple also waiting to board the propeller plane that day, and the young woman was absolutely terrified.

As Rosetta related the story, even though Mathilda spoke very little English, she approached the young woman and with Jean's help got her message across. Essentially it was:

"I'm an old woman and I'm not afraid of this newfangled contraption. You are a young beautiful woman and should be fearless, but if it will help, please hold my hand. I will give you some of my courage."

In later years, the roles switched and Jean became the one taking care my Grandmother. Both of them lived into their 90s while Rosetta's father died in the 1930s. It is no mystery where Rosetta got that indomitable spirit. Although her mother was generally a very quiet woman, there was an underlying strength and she passed it along to her ten children. When Rosetta was still alive, she said their father, my Grandfather, had a fantastic sense of humor and that was why the family was always laughing, regardless of the situation, and the neighbors asked if they could join the laughter. Rosetta got the best of both. Her mother's gentle strength and her father's humor.

Read her stories in "Can We Come In and Laugh, Too?" Over 6,000 copies downloaded since May. Also available in paperback.

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