Friday, November 20, 2009

Immigrant Daughter #3

 Continuing on with the story...  The whole family worked in the restaurant. I, being the youngest, had a job peeling a pot of potatoes every day. Needless to say I do not particularly like potatoes to this day. We all had different jobs at different ages. You can see I was the lowest rung on the ladder and got the least popular job.  One thing funny about peeling potatoes: in the back room I would sing crazy ding a ling songs and one day my father couldn't stand to hear such nonsense. He came yelling at me in Greek that if I can't sing anything but garbage to shut up.  At that moment I started to sing "Onward Christian Solders" and I thought, "Now I did it" and that I would get spanked. He got so mad that I heard things in Greek that I can not repeat.

Growing up in the restaurant allowed us to meet many different people making it easy to talk to strangers. My sister Electra and I worked more in the restaurant than any of the others. I will just tell you some of the stories that I can remember. It was so long ago from 4 year old to 79 that is a long span to remember things in order. But I am game to tell it,  if you are to hear it.

Dad and mom moved the restaurant across the main street to the corner across the street from the train station. The commuter trains from Atlantic City to Philadelphia stopped in Hammonton several times a day taking the people to and from work out of town. The restaurant was larger and we were busier. Mom and Dad did all the cooking, we were all older and our life changed.                

We were in the new place about 8 months when mom slipped in the kitchen on a piece of fat and broke her hip.  Now our back yard neighbor doctor was out of town and mom went to a doctor covering for him.  Well he did not agree with her about her hip and said she just bruised it. It kept hurting and when doctor Elliott returned he suggested she go the the hospital in Philadelphia. She had been there many times, I didn't know it then, but she had both breasts removed because of cancer. She rode the train or bus to go to the hospital. With a broken hip it must have been very painful. We did not have a car. I can relate to that as I am recovering from a broken right hip and I went to the emergency room in a very comfortable Honda Accord. The doctors and nurses couldn't imagine why I didn't call 911 for a more comfortable ambulance ride. 

I was 11 years old when this happened and as I said my life changed and not for the better. My mother was brought home with a body cast that started under her breast area to the end of her right foot. With the house being three stories mom's bed was moved down into the living room that had a square bay window so she could look outside. She enjoyed watching the kids passing by going to the Roman Catholic School that was just around the corner from our house. She laid in that bed for one whole year . Electra had the loving nurse instinct and had her bed brought down to the living where mom's bed was to take care of her needs. She had it doubly hard because my dad took that bed and called up to Electra to come down when mom needed anything. She had accepted the responsibility without a whimper.

I must interject here that my mother was so well loved that when the Roman Catholics had their  holiday  parades walking the religious statues from the church down to main street and back again, they made a special detour going back to the church passing our house and letting mom see them. We were not Roman Catholic but the priests knew mom was a believer and very devout and they would come in and pray for her.

The restaurant still required the same amount of time, but now we had mom at home who needed meals and going to the bathroom, which required the bed pan duty.  The three of us younger children still had to go to school and we had to adjust getting up time  and working at the restaurant but loved sitting by the bed listening to mom's stories. I can't remember anything but loving words from mom' I never heard "why me Lord".  She just accepted whatever happened as her lot. I had the job of running home with her lunch during lunch time from school and helping during rush hour and gulping down my lunch.

This hung on for one full year and then mom died. She was 45 years old. I was 12 years old. I will never forget the Greek custom of the family sitting up all night with the body and kissing it before they closed the coffin. Believe me that is a custom that is changed in my belief. Until next time I am Immigrant Daughter.


  1. Sweetpea, it is amazing how people adjust to situations and especially when it affects the whole family. How families unite together in times of need is just incredible. When I was reading about your Mum being in a cast for so long, it reminded me how far medical knowledge has also advanced. Now, next chapter please, oh......and with potato chips thank you!!! Kind regards, Anita

  2. Hello C's M-I-L!
    So glad you've joined the blogosphere! I'll have a read of your posts and get back to you. I hope your hip is okay and not giving you too much trouble. Take it easy now,

    Joolz :)

    (I'm in Australia and I just love those StickHorse CowGirls!)

  3. I bet you have thought about your mother a hundred times since you broke your hip. Anita is right, we are blessed to have medical advances that has made your ordeal better than what she had to suffer. Her attitude in the face of such is something to be admired. Love, C.

  4. Thank You for visiting my blog... I enjoyedreading yours! Reminds me of my Pawpaw.. He passed away a few years ago but he would tell us stories about growing up in th eDepression and how all 7 kids worked before and after school to help provide for the family. He worked up till a month before he died. Even though he retired years before..
    Will be back to read more! Have a great day!

  5. Tonia it seems the stories come easier when I am reminded of incidents that are happening today

  6. I've read your story so far, and am looking forward to reading more!

    I hope you are healing nicely and not in too much pain.


  7. How sad that your mother was taken from you at such a young age (you and your mom!) She must have been a very loving spirit to have such a cheerful heart when she must have been suffering...

  8. What amazing stories you have to tell - fascinating. How times have changed, as you know.


  9. Thanks for visiting my blog. I am enjoy reading your family story.