I was blessed with two pairs of loving grandparents with diverse cultural backgrounds. On my paternal side, my grandparents came from Gibraltar, the Rock, a very British background with a mixed lineage of Spanish, Genoese, and Maltese. My paternal grandfather helped in the ship building industry. He enjoyed telling tales of those times, and he and my paternal grandmother worked hard in bringing up their family when they emigrated to New York City. I think they inspired the ideals of hard work, love of family, and faith in me which has carried me through much in my life.
My maternal grandparents came to New York from Ireland. They too, worked hard, and struggled to support their family. Like many immigrants than and now, they faced discrimination. I remember my Irish grandmother telling me stories of the Great Depression and facing both the lack of work and the prejudice of those who said “No Irish need apply.” She told me how they took in laundry, did odd jobs, and managed to provide for their growing family.
Nanny Smith taught me many things and shared stories of the old country as we sipped the tea or as I helped her make Irish soda bread. My grandfather, too, liked to spin yarns.
I think a diverse cultural background, rich with tales of other times and lands added to my respect for story telling and desire to pass along the rich traditions.
I believe that this as well as those “yarns” I heard growing up contributed to my storytelling.