A Tribute to My Mother, Josephine CategoriesMemories & Musings

A Tribute to My Mother, Josephine

In honor of Mother’s Day, we here at Boomer Connections decided to write a tribute to our mothers.  I am very fortunate that my mother is still with me.  She lives in Lexington, KY near my sister.  I do get to see her every couple of months or so.  It is fun! We talk about what’s going on in our lives and just enjoy spending time together.

Mom is one of the strongest people I know.  She has been through a lot over her lifetime and has come through it with dignity.  She has always been there for me and my siblings.  She got involved in our lives and was always a strong supporter of whatever we wanted to accomplish.  I learned a lot from her.  She is intelligent and compassionate.  Her family is the most important thing to her.  She shows us unconditional love no matter what!

Mom came from a very poor upbringing.  She never finished high school.  Her parents were born in Sicily and in the early 1900s, her grandparents thought it would be safer for the family to move to Tunis, Tunisia in North Africa.  Back in the early 1900s, many Italians emigrated from Sicily to Tunisia because of the influence of the Mafia as well as Communism.  My grandmother was from a very large family and the Mafia threatened my great grandfather that if he didn’t pay protection, they couldn’t promise what they would do to his wife and children.  My great grandmother and great grandfather decided to move the family to Tunisia so they didn’t have to live in fear. My great grandmother was an amazing person.  She was a very strong woman who also lived a tough life.  She lost four children during her lifetime from some awful circumstances.  My grandmother was one of ten children.  Back then my great grandfather moved with my grandmother, who was 5 years old at the time, to Tunis leaving my great grandmother to unload the house and their belongings.  My great grandfather got a job and my great grandmother was able to move her seven kids to Tunis. The last two were born in Tunis.

My grandparents met in Tunis and got married.  That is where Mom and her five siblings were born. My mother’s family was living in Tunis, Tunisia during World War II when the allies dropped bombs to take out Mussolini’s ships.  The family all survived that time, but had to move to where my great grandmother lived to stay safe.  There they shared one apartment with three other families.  My mother never forgot when the soldiers had taken over the city.  Those were very tough and scary times.  My uncle and grandfather had to go in town to work.  My grandmother would be looking out for them when they were expected to come home.  She didn’t relax until she saw them on their way back home.  She said many prayers at that time!

Food was scarce.  Mom’s family was poor and didn’t always have enough food to eat.  My grandmother had to feed a family of eight with little food.  She had to wait in long lines to get the little bit of food she could to feed her six children and husband.  Many times, she had to beg the soldiers for food to feed her children.  Because of this experience, Mom always appreciated the simple things in life. 

She and my grandmother moved to the US in 1951.  She was almost 17 years old.  Mom and Nanny (that is what I called my grandmother) had to work so they could make enough money to send back to Tunis to bring the rest of the family over to the US.  Interesting how the cycle repeated itself.  My great grandmother had to separate the family to move to Tunis and my grandmother did the same when they came to the US.

There is so much more I could tell, but when I look back on what my ancestors had to experience and how they survived, I am in such awe and so proud to be part of this long line of amazingly strong women.  I am proud to be Josephine’s daughter!

Love you Mom!!!


Marie Giammarco

Marie Giammarco is a mid generation Boomer who came of age in suburban New York, 50 miles north of the city. A child whose mom and grandparents were Italian immigrants, her close knit family defined her growing up years. The product of an environment that revolved around food, health, and physical activity, she saw many elderly people age before their time because they lacked these things. She has a passion to help Boomers and Seniors to be active and live a longer, more healthy life.

One thought on “A Tribute to My Mother, Josephine”

  1. Marie, We have similar stories. God bless your Mother! She is truly a blessing in your life, I can tell. I am so sorry she and
    her family had to endure so many struggles like my parents did. I loved your story about your Mother & her family. So sad, but truly a blessing that they survived all their struggles. God is good! I pray for you all each day. Have a most blessed & Happy Memorial Day. You are truly a blessing to so many people. I am a Hospice nurse & do Home Health Care. I love each one of my clients. They don’t realize that they are such a blessing to me. I don’t charge any money. I just love to give from my heart to help them. Many hugs!

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