A legacy of love and grit and a refusal to give in

Were it not for my courageous, intrepid grandmother I would not be here today

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

She was a poor immigrant and English was her second language. In fact, she had only completed fifth grade when she was forced to leave school in order to care for her sisters. After she married, she faced an epic economic struggle. She gave birth to five children in short order.

When she was pregnant with her sixth, the financial strain worsened. She could have easily given up and opted not to bring this latest child into the world. But she triumphed, delivering the boy who would grow up to be my father. Seven years later, she would give birth to another boy who would care for her after medical problems disabled her.

I am reminded of my grandmother’s valiant fight for life this week, which marks the 15th anniversary of my father’s death. Were it not for that courageous, intrepid woman, I would not be here today. She persevered when pregnant and when it seemed like the whole world was against her. I marvel at her tenacity, grit, and Olde World wisdom, which enabled her to raise seven children of widely different temperaments and interests.

I thank her and God for my bookish father, who passed along to me a love of reading and of the written word. He also bestowed upon me an appreciation of music, of current events, of news gathering, and of the forgotten man and woman. These are the gifts that linger with me still, so long after his passing.

I am thankful for the family tree that has allowed my vivacious daughter to blossom. And I am grateful every day for the values my parents held dear (my mother is obviously deserving of her own column).

But what I value most is the love of life which runs through my lineage. It is appropriate that my grandmother and father’s surname, in Italian, means “full of life.” That is the legacy they have left me, and I embrace it with my whole heart.

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