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Grandparents Visit Journalism 11 on Grandparents Day

Gabby and her grandmother.

Gabby and her grandmother.

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Catherine’s paternal grandparents.

Catherine’s maternal grandparents.

Kiran Kottapalli ‘18

Grandparents’ Day this year was yet another success! Catherine Souza ‘18 and Gabby Landry ‘18 invited their grandparents to our Journalism 11 class. Paula and Steve Souza and Joan and Peter Levesque shared adorable memories of Catherine and great advice for us to consider as we go off to college and all of life’s other adventures. Luisa St. Peter shared reflections from her battle with leukemia, recalled the times she moved all around the country, and passed along wise insights regarding daily challenges. However, what really melted my heart were the stories of how each couple met. It is incredible to know that these people embody the very notions of love and happiness.

Without further ado, here are their stories:

Paula and Steve Souza:

Mrs. Souza – “I guess you never know when you’re going to meet someone that you’ll spend the rest of your life with, My dad worked for a textile manufacturer and they were hiring for the summer He told me and I went. Steve was on summer vacation. He didn’t have a job and he went to the Security Office and they sent him to the warehouse where I was. The very first day, I knew there was something — there was a connection there. Don’t ask me how or why. He waited all summer to ask me out, however that was 46 years ago so it worked out well in the end. And I remember his mom because I am 11 months older than he is, and she said ‘She’s 20? And you’re 19’, but I looked younger so it was fine. He was from a Portuguese family and I was from an Irish family, so that was, back then, a little bit of a concern, but it worked out well.”

 

Joan and Peter Levesque

Mr. Levesque – “How did we meet…playing bridge at a swim club. Is that right?”

Mrs. Levesque – “We had a mutual friend. My best friend and a friend of hers, they knew Peter, and we were introduced and we started to play bridge. I was in college at the time, Peter was in college, and we married right after I graduated from college. People don’t get married that young anymore, but we were 22 and 23.”

Mr. Levesque – “Those were the days when they drafted people, so we got married and a month later, they sent me off to training.”

Mrs. Levesque – “He was in the Naval Air Reserve, so he wasn’t going to go overseas. So for the first 6 years of our marriage, he was in the Naval Reserve, he had to go one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. So that was exciting — two little babies — but 54 years this year I think.”

Mr. Levesque – “At least!”

 

Luisa and James St. Peter

Mrs. St. Peter – “My husband and I, we worked in the same building. We used to ride the elevator together. And then we found out that my boss and his boss were friends so they had all kinds of different ways of getting me upstairs and getting him downstairs. And then one day we were riding the elevator and he asked me for a date, and we went to a hockey game. And, you know, I’d never been to a hockey game before, so it was very unusual, but he was very polite, always polite. He loved my family and my family loved him, and they still love him. We’ve been married 49 years and 2 weeks.”

 

Testaments of Faith

By Gabby Landry ‘18

Among the struggles parents face, few rival the challenges of raising a child who has a life-altering disease.  Paula Souza, grandmother of Catherine Souza ‘18, reflected on the struggles and joys of raising Catherine’s uncle, Steven, who has viral encephalitis, on Grandparents Day in April.

Catherine’s father and her uncle are twins, which came as a surprise to her grandparents in the delivery room!  Mrs. Souza said: “I think the most defining moment in my life was when I was delivering what we thought was one baby and the doctor says, ‘Here comes another one!’”

“They didn’t do ultrasound then,” Mr. Souza added.  “And they couldn’t tell when they did the heartbeat, because they were synchronized so it just sounded like one really loud heartbeat.”

While she was still in the delivery room and resting, Mrs. Souza sent her husband to the store, because they did not have enough baby clothes and other items for both babies.

“We had a really exciting first year,” Mrs. Souza continued.  “And then right at the first year, the boys’ first birthday, was when the older one, Steven, got viral encephalitis.  And it changed his world; they lost their twinship.  They couldn’t do the same things anymore.  It was great that he had Sean to model after, but it wasn’t the same.”

“He does alright,” she continued.  “He works in a grocery store, bagging and doing carts…But you have to just deal with what life hands you.  He’s a good kid.”

“And he’s very happy, Paula,” Catherine’s maternal grandmother Joan Levesque interjected. The other grandparents smiled and nodded in agreement.

Mrs. Souza said, “Yes, he is.”  She added, “He also has a pennant collection, now about 900 pennants.  And his brother definitely helps with that and has given him a lot of them.”

As she shared this story and others, Mrs. Souza reflected on how she has learned the importance of faith during trying times, especially in the raising of her children.  Mrs. Souza and her entire family are a true testament of faith through challenging family circumstances, and we are grateful that she shared her experiences with us on Grandparents Day.

 

Sylvia Wen ’18

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream.” I believe everyone has many dreams since    their childhood. Sometimes dreams will change as people grow up. However, a dream, like a compass, indicates directions for us to search personally what “I” want and who “I” want to be in the future.

On the way to achieve the dream, we may fall down when we meet difficulties, we may work really hard, we may cry, we may try many times to succeed, but we are able to learn many lessons through the experience. People need to try so that they could know what they really want. As Catherine’s maternal grandma Joan Levesque (P ‘91) said, “dream a big dream!”

Some people changes job often in their life. But, whatever we do, we need to find something we are really interested and enjoy it. Being happy is important. Catherine’s grandma wanted to be a teacher when she was young. But many years ago, her family situation was such that she could not go to college. But the nun in her school helped her and talked with her parents.  Finally, she went to college and graduated. She taught 30 years in a catholic middle school. Although things may change everyday, her life experience is that: “Each step comes along, there is plan for each of you, you will know that when the time comes, so just follow your dreams.”

What Catherine’s paternal grandfather, Steve Souza, shared with us is that “This is something I never thought that I would be involved in but I loved it at that time. Again, life may change your plans, but do not get discouraged; developed a new plan and move on.”  I think Catherine’ grandpa gives us a good example that we should a job what we really enjoy to do.  “Do what you want,” he added.

It is important to know who you are and to enjoy your life. Catherine’s grandparents give us a great example that we can make our dreams come true. Never be afraid to change; the only way you could know what you really want and like is through those life experience. Our experiences of failure and success combine together and make up our lives.

 

Catherine Souza ‘18  

When my paternal grandfather, Steve Souza, or ‘Pa,’ lost his job in the corporate world, he was devastated. He fell in love with his first job out of college, serving as a manager at Sears, and felt that this would be where he would retire. Twenty two years into his position at Sears he got the news that he was no longer needed as part of the staff. He was destroyed, with a son in college (my dad) and a family to support, he needed this job. As he searched for a new job he was offered a position at Grossman’s, which is a type of home improvement store similar to Home Depot. That position was short lived as the other stores around the country began to decline. He was finally offered a job at Mystic Seaport in Mystic Connecticut, and used this job as an opportunity to earn some money while still searching for a job in the corporate world.

While at Mystic Seaport he discovered all the issues that were involved in the corporate world. While at Sears, “I was handed a book with all the designs for the endcaps and aisles. I was sent ads made by people in Chicago that didn’t always apply to us. The Sears corporate office in Chicago determined what inventory I got based on a national average not what people in my store were buying.” At Sears, Pa worked basically as an interpreter, not really running his own business. When he joined the Art Gallery at Mystic Seaport it was totally different and not a kind of different that he thought he wanted. At the seaport he had control over the gallery and was able to run the business like he wanted and was best for the customers. While working at Sears, Pa was not able to make his business his own and serve his customers, however at the smaller museum shop he was able to get to know his customers and what they wanted out of his store.

My maternal grandfather “Pop,” also found a position that he was passionate about: mechanical engineering. Pop is always trying to find the best way to make something work and fixing every problem that occurs, sometimes in a quite unorthodox method. He is continually looking for a new way to improve everyday goods and comes up with new ‘inventions.’ Pop holds several patents from his work with different companies on different projects. Pop always knew that this is what he wanted to do with his life. He found the career that never really felt like work, but more like play.

My grandfathers both found careers that they were passionate about. One of them always knew what he wanted to do while the other found his passion on accident. If you are lucky enough to know a career path coming out of high school like Pop, that is fantastic. For many of us, including myself, this is not the case. We must wait and see what God’s plan is for us and be willing to try out something else that we may think is unlikely to relate to what we want to do. We must take risks and try new things because you never know; you may just find something that you are more passionate about.

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Grandparents Visit Journalism 11 on Grandparents Day