My First Role Models
When I reflect on these qualities that have served me so well in my life, I am so grateful to the incredibly strong, compassionate, generous role models who have influenced my foundation and who I am today. Here’s a glimpse of the lives of these amazing women.
Lessons I Inherited from My Great-Grandmother – growth mindset, immigrant spirit, and work ethic, adventure, taking care of family, and helping others.
My maternal great-grandmother immigrated from Sweden at the age of 15. Who would leave their family, home, language, and everything they know to travel 30+ days by ship to an unknown place, a new and different place? As I understand things, her father had lost the family farm and everything gambling, and she was setting out on her own seeking a fresh start in America, a new land with the promise of a new future.
She settled in Boston and shortly after met and married my great-grandfather, also a Swedish immigrant. He was a construction worker. She was a dressmaker. They soon had two daughters a year apart when he suddenly died in 1903 of a bleeding ulcer. As a single mother with two infant daughters, she continued to support her family as a dressmaker.
She later would live with her sister, a widow, and her daughter, Tyra, my namesake. She remained the matriarch of this side of my family until her death at 93 in 1968. She would later say, “the only thing remarkable about my sister and me is that we traveled the Atlantic 9 times.” I am thankful she made all those trips and was a stand for a better life and her family.
Lessons I Learned from My Grandmother – immigrant spirit and work ethic, taking care of family including raising another’s children as her own, faith, and service.
My paternal grandmother immigrated from Greece to Boston and married my grandfather in 1918. He was a recent widow with three young children, 6, 5, and 4. He had lost his first wife during childbirth. She would have four more children, including my dad.
She raised all the children as her own. She was hard-working, willing to take on any task to support our family’s businesses, including grocery, restaurants, cobbler, and millinery.
She relied on her strong faith and was active in her church. She also supported the WWII and the Korean War efforts as a volunteer with the local Red Cross Chapter. She was widowed for 17 years and raised her two youngest daughters as a single mom.
She earned her US citizenship in 1953. She was loved by everyone she met. Her funeral required a police escort due to the crowd of attendees wishing to pay their respects.