Manikas Law May 2019

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May 2019

My Biggest Supporter A Tribute to My Grandma Carmella Criminal & Traffic Defense | Immigration | Personal Injury

My wife once told me a story about one of her friends, Thuy, that really made an impact on me. Thuy’s parents escaped from a prison camp in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States. Once in America, they established a business and had children. While they worked tirelessly to build the business, they raised their kids. The business eventually became successful. All of the children worked at the business, and it eventually helped put them through college. I’m always filled with a sense of pride and patriotism when I hear stories like this, not just because I truly love this country, but because they remind me of one of the most influential women in my life: my grandma, Carmella. My great-grandparents emigrated from Italy just beforeWorldWar I. In fact, the first thing my great-grandfather did when he landed in America was volunteer to fight in the war for the United States. He was proud of his home country, but he loved his new country. Becoming an American was one of the greatest experiences of his life. They eventually began a grocery store and restaurant, and as a family, they worked hard to create their new life in America while continuing to value and honor the heritage they’d brought with them. Their daughter, my grandma, Carmella, married my grandfather in 1954. She later became the classic Italian grandmother. Despite her short stature in a tall family, she was the general. She taught us the value of tough love, and she always wanted us to grow up the right way: by treating others with respect. Grandma was also one of those people who showed unconditional love to her whole family. I remember her as a staunch defender of my brothers and me. As far as anybody else was

concerned, we could do no wrong, even if we did screw up. She would spin the story, saying we were tired or,“He’s a growing boy.” I loved spending the holidays with my grandparents, and as a kid, I took it for granted. I just assumed every Thanksgiving and Christmas would be spent eating great food in the company of my grandparents. You don’t realize as you grow up that those moments are fleeting. In 2013, my grandmother suffered a stroke. That Friday, when I finally finished work, my wife and I trekked to the hospital to visit her, but by that point, she was unconscious. My wife, who also comes from an Italian family, grabbed Grandma’s hand. In that moment, we saw a tear slide down Grandma’s cheek, because, despite her comatose state, she was still there. She knew we loved her. Grandma passed within the hour, surrounded by the family she had fearlessly defended, loved, and fed for so many years.

I have plenty of lessons and memories to thank my grandmother for, but the biggest thing I take away from how she lived her life was the value of defending others. Grandma knew family was everything, and she wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice her well-being to make sure her family was okay. Because of her, every day I stick up for what I believe is right. Grandma was quite the storyteller herself, and we, in turn, tell our own stories about her. I’m thankful that I have a few photos of family gatherings and that we were able to snap a photo of my children with their great- grandmother Carmella just a fewmonths before she passed away. She and my grandpa were a large part of my life, and I’m grateful that my children had a chance to meet the woman who provided me with so many great childhood memories.

-Kyle Manikas

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