“We don’t just do what’s easy, we do what’s right”

Happy June to all of you! Summer has officially started, and it’s hard to believe that the year is going by so fast! Another reminder for me and all of us to cherish each day and try to enjoy them to their fullest!

A few days ago, I was able to celebrate the 95th Birthday of my Aunt Maria. What a blessing it was to be present for the celebration and see her smile, enjoy dinner, and talk about the 95 years she has lived. It was a wonderful day, but it wasn’t easy to get everyone to go out, but it was the right thing to do.

Let me first start with the events that lead up to this day, there were many not-so-easy decisions and situations along the way, but they were the right thing to do. About 52 years ago, my father immigrated to the USA. It was not easy for him to come to the USA and leave his life behind, but truth be told, my father was chasing after my mother, who was already there, so it was the right thing to do.

Along with him came his widowed mother (my grandmother) and his two single sisters (aunt Maria was one of them); she was single and 43 at the time. They left behind a family business, a house, a car, many siblings and relatives, and a decent life. My Grandfather passed when my father was very young, and since all his older brothers were married at that time, my dad became the “Man of the house” and felt a responsibility to his mother and his two older sisters, which is why he brought them all with him.

They settled in Chicago, where my dad’s other married sister, Rose, lived. She was his sponsor and was how he had gained permission to come to the USA. My mother was living in Detroit at the time with her family, which was about a 6-hour car drive away. Everyone found jobs and started working, and although it was not easy, my dad would travel once or twice a month by car to visit my mom.

Since he was old school Italian, and so was my mom’s family, he would sleep on the couch by himself the day he visited, but that was the right thing to do since they were not married. My father found a job at the Ford Motor Company in Detroit and moved there a few months later. Of course, because of the responsibility that he felt to his mom and two sisters, they all came with him. A few months later, my parents got married, and all five lived together in a rented home.

This was not easy for my mom, I am sure, but even she was convinced it was the right thing to do, so she accepted it. A few years later, my grandmother and my dad’s other sister Violante decided they didn’t like the USA as much as Italy, and they went back, but my aunt Maria stayed. Again this put my dad in a position where he felt responsible since his sister was single, and he continued to let her live with him and my mother. Probably not easy, but the right thing in his mind.

The years went by, and aunt Maria never found anyone. There were relationships, but none of them felt right, so instead of settling, aunt Maria did what she thought was right and kept waiting. Meanwhile, my parents started a family, and aunt Maria was there to help, which was a benefit to them and to my siblings and me. She was a second mom to us, and we never had or needed a babysitter; Aunt Maria was always there.

So here we are 52 years later; my aunt Maria is still single, she still lives with my parents, and she is celebrating her 95th birthday at a restaurant with our family. It was not easy to get here, though, and we knew it would be tough, but we all knew it was the right thing to do. My dad gets around with a walker and walks slowly. My mom has recently had knee and back surgery and gets around even slower. Aunt Maria has a knee that needs replacement, but she is too old for surgery, so she has trouble moving as well.

Getting them to all dress up, get loaded in the car and to the restaurant, getting them out of the car, and eating and celebrating and getting them back home was not gonna be easy. We talked as a family and decided that even though it was not gonna be easy, it was the right thing to do. I mean, turning 95 is special and we were determined to make it special. It would have been easier to just do something at home, but aunt Maria deserved it; she did a lot for us growing up.

It was an amazing night, and the memories I will cherish, but the message that I am trying to convey by telling this story is this. In life, we will be faced with MANY instances where we will need to make decisions. Some of those will be hard and not easy at all. If you reflect on Maria’s life and even your own, I am sure you will find that every time we have done what was right, we have never regretted it, no matter how hard it was.

I challenge you this week and every week to continue to do the right thing. If you can do that week after week, month after month, and year after year, I am certain that you will look back one day and see that you lived a beautiful life. It might not be an easy one, but it will be beautiful. Enjoy each day to its fullest and love one another, please; that is important to me.

Thanks for reading, and until next week, keep smiling, everyone!

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