Thursday, April 11, 2019

Why I gave up complaining. By John Henry Soto

When I hear people complain about how hard it is to make it because of where they grew up, I can't help to think of my grandparents coming here in the mid-40s without knowing a word of English and finding factory jobs they worked for 20 years. They were around my age now when they arrived here! Then I remember my grandma telling me how she had to leave school in the 3rd grade to go to work. Her job was cleaning clothes in the river and sewing. She was 8 years old. My grandpa told me stories of working as a truck driver for the fire department. Things were a little different back then. He also drove a rock truck from the village to the city for building materials. I still carry his metal belt license on my key chain. I remember as a young boy walking by my grandpa's bedroom while he was resting after work and seeing him laying down wide awake scratching his forehead deep in thought. I always wondered what he was thinking about. I never had the nerve to ask him because I was afraid it wouldn't be good and it would make me sad. But I'm sad now anyway so in retrospect, I should have asked. His space felt sad to me but he always smiled and was the funniest dude around. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him in some way. I never met my dad so he was it for me and I couldn't imagine a better role model.
My grandma worked at a zipper factory called ACME. That's right ACME. Same place the Coyote spent a fortune on gadgets to try to capture the Roadrunner. She worked there for almost 20 years. Someone convinced her she should retire and she did. Three years shy of being eligible for a pension. Not sure if it was deliberate or not but it really bothered her. She said she did it to take care of me because my mom was working at the time and had remarried. I don't have all those details families don't talk about. My grandma was a tough lady and ruled the house. She worked hard and I never heard her complain that the work was too much. She did, however, hate the commute to her job in Long Island City and spoke about that a lot. The subway announcements she never understood so she had to ask around and sometimes people were not very nice to help her. But she always had the furniture she wanted and we always had food. Food was a big part of growing up for me. I miss those days and I truly miss her. Today is my grandma's birthday. She would have been 108! She lived to 96 so that's pretty amazing. My grandpa was 96 when he moved on! My mom was a lot younger which was very sad. I'll write something soon just about how great she was.
I truly can go on and on in detail about my family and my upbringing but that wasn't the reason I began writing down these thoughts. The purpose was this. I use these stories and memories whenever life challenges me harshly or I'm physically tired or it feels like it's a never-ending journey towards success. I look at my life and realize what an amazing success I already am and how blessed I am to have the opportunities in front of me. Today I feel really great. I would like to thank you for reading. ❤️🙏 JHS