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My American Experience - Personal Essay

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My American Experience

The American Experience differs for each person. Everyone has their own stories that have shaped their lives and made them who they are today. What makes us unique is that we all come from different backgrounds, lifestyles and have had events in our lives which have shaped ourselves and made us who we are today. My experience differs greatly from many peoples based on that fact, that I was adopted into an Irish American family that had a rich family history. While I can't trace my families history back countless generations, I feel that the story my parents has been the most relevant in my own up bringing and making me who I am today.

My ancestors immigrated to the United States during the end of the famine In Ireland called the Great Famine. This was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration between 1845 and 1852. It is also known, mostly outside Ireland, as the Irish Potato Famine. In the Irish language it is called an Gorta Mór meaning "the Great Hunger." This event in Ireland is what would secure my families place in the United States and in a couple of generations would set the stage for my parents story to unfold.

My mother Virginia Rose McEntee was born January 20th 1943 in Queens, New York just before the end of the second world war. She was the oldest of three. Growing up religion played a major part of her life. As a member of the catholic church, she would attend church every sunday and attended catholic school all the way up through college. Growing up she excelled in school, and always earned top marks. Early on in her life it was clear that she excelled in art, everything from drawing to painting. This is a gift that she would carry on into her later life, however before doing so she would have to overcome some hardships. For the time she lived a very traditional lifestyle, two parents, a modest home, everything one would expect a family unit to be.

This however was not the way things would play out. I remember being relayed the tale of the day that would change my mothers life forever. The day started out as an average January morning, only a few days after my mother's sixteenth birthday. My grandmother at home and my grandfather away on a business trip. The post came as it always did, however unlike an average day, there was large manilla envelope among the usual letters. My grandmother curious as to its contents proceeded to open the envelope carefully removing the enclosed documents. The placid expression, consumed her face as she read the papers she held in her hands. Little did my mother know at this point, that what my grandmother had just received was a set of divorce papers. My grandfather hadn't really been going on all the business trips he said he had; In reality he had been having affair with a woman he worked with at the jewelry store he owned. He had abandoned his family, without even saying a word.

This event changed not only my mothers life but the life of her family forever. At this point in time my grandfather had brought in most of the money and as a result of his absence, my mother had to enter the workforce. Every day after school she would go find whatever work she could. This would continue for many years to come. During this period in time faith played a big part in my mothers life and ultimately helped carry her through each day. Having to work every day detracted from her social life and made



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