To Read on the Journey

Sunday, July 1, 2007

2 weeks till the Azores

In a previous blog I mentioned that I would be sharing about my g-parents, their story of how they came to the U.S.

My grandmother Josefina Greves was one of 17 children. My grandfather Antonio Teodosio was one of 12 children (11 biological and 1 adopted sister). They lived on the westernmost point of Europe, on the Portuguese island of Flores. A beautiful, but poor island.

My grandmother's grandfather Jose (pronounced- ju zeh) Greves had come to the United States, lived, worked, and obtained citizenship, and returned to the Azores.  In the early 1900's her father also Jose Greves, followed in his father's footsteps to America. When he returned to Flores, Azores he married and began a family. His wife Marie Amelia, had no desire to leave her home, and so they lived the rest of their years in Flores.

I wonder how a village on an island so small could hold a man who had seen so much of the world.  I am sure that he spoke of his adventures to America. I know his adventure ignited a passion in his daughter Josefina to live in America someday.

My grandparent's story isn't a fairytale, they grew up along side each other, and
married in 1947. They had 6 children; Violet, Marie, Victoria, Vera, Joe, and Hilda (These are their American names, changed when they moved here. Btw- with exception to Violet, all of my aunts first names are Marie). They continued living in Flores for many years, but my grandmother wanted more, and they made plans to move their family to the Unites States.

On March 19,1961, 4 days after her 35th birthday, my grandmother arrived in
California.  She left her husband to care for their children (ages 12-4), so she could establish a home for them in the U.S.  Upon her arrival she immediately went to work in a cannery.  She borrowed money and sent for her family, who arrived 4 months later on July 31st (the day after my grandparents anniversary). 
I once asked my grandmother what it was like to go to the San Francisco airport to get her husband and children.  She laughed and told me she had been advised to fix herself up as the American women do.  She wore a pretty dress, fixed up her hair, and painted her lips with red lipstick.  When my grandfather saw her he was livid.  After 3.5 months apart, he wouldn't speak to her
(I think he may have been more upset that she left him with 6 children- aahhhh!). My oldest aunt, Violet, shared that when she got off the plane in S.F. and saw her mother she didn't recognize her, "she was so beautiful."

After their arrival in America the entire family went to work picking peaches, and quickly paid off every borrowed cent that brought them to the U.S. 
Soon my grandfather (42 years old) obtained a job at a dairy, and a few years later my grandmother at Hunt's tomato cannery (where she worked for 25+ years).
In addition to raising their 6 children, they also raised my sister and I. Their family of 8 is now a family of 53!

In September of 2005 God took my grandfather home and made him new. 

(for the last 10 years of his life he slowly faded away from us as he suffered from Alzheimer's).  After God took him home, Josie (3) said, " Now Avo' (grandpa in Portugese) can run, and jump and turn around." Yes, he can!

The name Josefina, comes from Joseph which means "May God add." God has certainly added so much to our lives because of my grandmother.

I feel blessed to be a Teodosio.  I am honored to be part of a family that pursued a dream.  My grandparents gave me a rich heritage, a strong value for family, and modeled victory {overcoming obstacles} to me. 

When I feel defeated I remember their courage and determination.  I know that their story is my story, my gratitude is expressed by living a life that honors them. 


1 comment:

Lisa Leonard said...

Thanks for sharing the beginning. You know so many details. I want to hear more!