I Love My Family…Five Generations Strong

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Written by Diana St. Lifer

We all seem to fully appreciate the time we spend with our families. Join author Diana St. Lifer as she shares “I Love My Family…Five Generations Strong.

Written by Diana St. Lifer

Diana and her grandmother.

Diana and her grandmother.

I am fortunate to come from a long line of strong, independent woman, and even more fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend a good amount of my childhood with these women of strength and stature.

My grandmothers and great-grandmothers were significant presences in my life. We didn’t live in the same house, but we all lived in the same community, and daily visits and family weekend gatherings were the norm.

My great-grandmothers–the nannies as they were affectionately called–lived in side-by-side apartments in the senior citizens building located across the street from the high school I attended. My sister and I would make it our after-school routine to visit them for a cup of coffee and anisette biscotti. Our paternal grandmother lived a little further down the road.

With a steady pace and no distractions, we could easily make it there during lunch period, eat a homemade Italian sub, and get back in time for the next class. Our maternal grandmother lived almost equal distance in the opposite direction, and conveniently just about at the halfway mark on our walk home. We had the town (and our day’s meals) covered. If we ever needed to be there with a moment’s notice from a phone call or alert from a Medical Guardian it was nice living so close. 

Even though many of my classmates didn’t have even one surviving grandparent, I didn’t truly appreciate how special and meaningful it was to have both grandmothers and great-grandmothers in my life for so long. I was in my early 20s when my great-grandmothers passed away and was married with children of my own when we said good-bye to my Grandma Rose.

Today I get to enjoy my family heritage from the center of five generations. At the helm is my last surviving grandparent, Grandma Bianca. At 93 years young, my maternal grandmother has two children, five grandchildren, six great-children, two great-great grandchildren and another arriving in May.  Together, the 16 of us represent five generations. Even more extraordinary is that the first-born of each generation is a woman.

The first-born women of the five generations: My grandmother Bianca (second from left);  her daughter, Patricia (left); Patricia's daughter Lisa (second from right); Lisa's daughter Danielle (right); and Danielle's daughter Juliana being held by her great-great-grandmother.

The first-born women of the five generations: My grandmother Bianca (second from left); her daughter, Patricia (left); Patricia’s daughter Lisa (second from right); Lisa’s daughter Danielle (right); and Danielle’s daughter Sophia being held by her great-great-grandmother.

Both my grandmother and mother are strong (and strong-willed) women who have instilled by example the importance of self-reliance and independence. Both were divorced but never defeated. While neither remarried–proving a woman didn’t need a man to be happy–they didn’t debunk the notion of a healthy relationship. (My sister is married more than 30 years, I will be celebrating 22, and my brother is taking his vows next year.)

My grandmother, mother, sister, niece, great nieces and I recently went out for lunch. As I looked around the table, what I saw was no longer lost on the child eating an Italian sub in her grandmother’s 1950s-style kitchen or dipping biscotti into the coffee her nanny proudly fresh brewed.

Older and wiser, I more fully appreciate the time I spend with the two generations before me as well as the two below. And when my grandmother looks into the eyes of her great-great daughters, I know I am not the only one who is grateful for the moments.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
I have learned to accept and embrace the changes that take place within my family. Children leave home, parents get older, grandparents pass on and babies are born. It’s all part of life and I can choose to hold on to the past or look forward to all the great things that the future holds.   I choose the latter.

What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
That who I am as a person, daughter, wife, mother, sister, and aunt has been influenced by the generations of women in my family–those I’ve known and those who left this earth long before I arrived.

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
Perhaps not an achievement, but more a rewarding experience was caring for my maternal great-grandmother the first summer I returned home from college. I didn’t realize it then, but it was a gift to have had that precious time with her.

What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?  
Whatever imperfections and quirks we have as individuals, when we come together as a family we are the most perfect group of not-so-perfect people there could be!

How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Crazy family.   All five generations of them.

About the author

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Diana St. Lifer

Diana St. Lifer, founder of Choices by Design LLC, is a certified professional life coach who helps others get the most out of life through goal-oriented choice making and positive attitude development. In her work with young adults, Diana helps build their confidence, become more resilient, and develop a healthy self-esteem as they navigate the rocky teen years. The adults she works learn to understand what it means to live by choice, not chance, and how to make changes instead of excuses to get what they want and where they want to be.

Our lives are the result of the choices we make. When you master the process of conscious choice making, you can create the life you’ve always wanted. Diana helps others gain the confidence to move in the direction of their dreams in ways they never thought possible.

Diana is certified by the renowned Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, where she also became a master practitioner in Energy Leadership. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Post B.A. certificate in Child Advocacy. In addition to being a United Way-certified mentor, she is a co-facilitator of the Montclair-Caldwell (NJ) Chapter of Powerful You! Women’s Network.

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