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The Blue and White

The Blue and White

Dear Student: Learn From Grandma Lucy

“Dear Student” is a series of Teacher letters, written anonymously, to a student.

My dear Drillers,
When I hear the word “compassion,” my great grandmother, Rosina, is the very first person who comes to mind. Everyone in our family called her Grandma Lucy (short for her last name, Luciani). She stood just over 5 feet tall and was a force to be reckoned with. Not because she was a feisty Italian- her demeanor was the furthest thing from feisty. The force she wielded was kindness. The most intense compassion I’ve ever witnessed was delved out by my Grandma Lucy. It seemed that every person she came into contact with was immediately affected by her gentle and welcoming nature. I swear she didn’t know a single enemy in her lifetime. She saw people for the good they were capable of- even when they were flawed and wrought with ill will. She saw what was possible when they were offered words of encouragement and a smile.
Grandma Lucy was born in 1903. She was alive when the Titanic met its demise. She lived through the first World War and a pandemic that began in 1918 which went on to kill over 50,000,000 people. Believe it or not, she got married to my great grandfather when she was only 14- don’t get any ideas- and they were getting ready to introduce their first child into a world of chaos a couple of years later. She persevered and took care of three small children while her husband began a career with Union Pacific and worked on the railroad. Just as things were looking up, the stock market crashed and she was, again, faced with a daunting situation- the Great Depression.
As the Nazis were campaigning their goal of world domination, an actor named Orson Wells did a broadcast over the radio as a tribute to Halloween. You see, back then very few people had a television in their homes and the main source of entertainment was listening to the radio. Hard to believe, right?! Now back to Orson…. He theatrically read excerpts from H.G. Wells’ novel, War of the Worlds. Grandma told me multiple times about how she had been recovering in the hospital after a surgery when she overheard the middle of the broadcast coming from the nurses’ station down the hallway. She panicked and firmly believed that the planet was under attack. She even contemplated the unthinkable to avoid being captured by aliens. Had she heard the broadcast from the beginning, she would have known that it was fiction and far from fact. It was these sorts of stories that helped me to understand the importance of not jumping to conclusions but to wait a beat. Breathe. Assess. And stay calm.
After surviving the Great Depression and her run-in with the War of the Worlds, Grandma went on to watch her only son head off to fight in World War 2. At this point, she had experienced two World Wars, a pandemic, and the Great Depression. Over the next few decades she witnessed our country engage in more ground wars, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, women’s rights, and (cringe) the 1980’s. As mentioned before, she got married when she was 14 (again, don’t get any ideas) and she didn’t get to attend high school like you and me. She taught herself algebra, the art of oil painting, and gardening. She had a deep love for the arts and introduced me to opera and how to oil paint- I still have our “masterpieces” hanging in my living room. I’ll never forget attending my very first opera with her in Portland, Oregon, as a small child. It was the story of Cinderella and NOT what I was expecting. She giggled when I fell asleep during the production and explained what I missed when I woke up by translating much of the Italian script into English.
When I was young, I experienced trauma (as many of us will). My armor was a cruddy attitude, bright pink hair (this was super avant garde in the 80’s) and a punk persona. Grandma Lucy saw past my protective shield. She saw me for who I was. She never once judged me and when others would make fun of me, she was the first to defend me and help me to feel better. In my eyes, she was the biggest hero on the planet. Think of an Italian version of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Unlike Ruth, she wasn’t formally educated. Yet, she was profoundly intelligent when it came to lessons in life. She helped me to see the value in everyone I come in contact with regardless of their appearance or how they treat me. I am eternally grateful to have known her.
You may be wondering why I am telling you about Grandma Lucy. When I am feeling overwhelmed by everything COVID has thrown at us- fear, death, isolation, potential loss of income, inability to find necessities like toilet paper, and finally the trials and tribulations that go along with distance learning- I think of Grandma Lucy and her sweet smile. She lived through major episodes of chaos and doubt- yet she survived it all and kept a smile on her face. Even though you may not have a Grandma Lucy in your life (Thank your lucky stars if you do!), please know that you have many people at BHS who I have noticed exhibit my grandma’s best characteristics- love, empathy, and compassion. They will be here for you through thick and thin. Please reach out for help from us when you need it. Please offer help to others when you can. And please rest assured that things WILL get better and know that things might go sideways again. You are all Drillers. Grandma Lucy would have been incredibly proud to know each and every one of you because you all have the potential to fully embody diligence, respect, integrity, life-long learning, leadership, empathy and responsibility- the Driller Way.

Keep your chins up and carry on! Brindiamo a una bella vita!


A Teacher

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