2 miracles = sainthood

I may have the most improbable birth story of anyone you know. My mother was born in Italy in the early 1910s. She came to the U.S. at the age of 11 and was put in the first grade. With an academic career doomed, her father fudged her date of birth so she could go to work in a sewing factory as soon as possible. When the Depression hit in 1929 every one of her and her three sisters' paychecks were crucial to the family's survival. The family lived on West 69th Street and was among the first families to participate in mass at the new parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Father Vincent was the legendary founder of OLMC. He asked some young ladies to volunteer on Saturdays to clean and prepare their venue for Sunday Mass. My mother volunteered. One Saturday, Father Vincent asked if any of the ladies were interested in a vocation as a nun. My mother raised her hand. Father Vincent told her he knew her dad and would speak to him about it. Nothing ever came of it so I'm guessing Father Vincent knew grandpa couldn't afford the hit to the family income during those desperate times.

In her 30s an Italian man from the neighborhood whom she had seen on the streetcar came by the house with his parents to ask my grandpa for her hand in marriage. A match was made but to everyone's dismay he died in 1944 of appendicitis after only 4 months of marriage. Mom was devastated but with her family and faith she persevered.

Meanwhile my father was a policeman in Italy. During WWII he was drafted into the Italian Army and took part in the invasion of Russia. Operation Barbarossa was the largest land battle in the history of earth. Most of the Italian troops never made it back.

My father told my mother that he was saved by a Polish woman who put his freezing feet to her bosoms. He made it back to Italy and in the post-war period when most of the country was desparate he was able to resume his old carer as policeman. But something was missing. He wanted a family and one of his friends came back from Cleveland boasting about plentiful jobs in Cleveland. Americans don't even wash dinner dishes, they just throw them out he said, never bothering to explain the phenomena of paper plates.

His uncle lived in Cleveland and knew my mother's family and knew her sad story. A cross-ocean courtship began until finally she went over there in the early '50s and they met and married. He was 42, she was 39. My sister, brother and I followed in quick succession. Three weeks after my birth my mother turned 43. She had one more pregnancy after me who was lost to miscarriage.

Through the years I would claim it was a minor miracle that I made it into this world. Without Father Vincent's better judgment and a Polish lady I don't exist, plus the added danger of older women giving birth. So now I'll need a ruling. Two miracles are needed for sainthood. Does my minor miracle need one more minor miracle and a major one, or does it stand alone and I only need one more? "Cleveland Diocese, may I help you?"

giovanni palmiero

in my retirement I'm a nanny to my niece's two boys, ages 17 months and 4.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:14 AM, 02.02.2021