The Autobiography Project

Your Autobiographies

Marisa Leva's Autobiography (submitted 5/14/06)

Happy Mother's Day, Dad!

When my father was in his late twenties, he was faced with what must have been a very frightening endeavor: the daunting task of raising two small children alone. In the late 1950s and early 1960s single fatherhood was almost unheard of--especially when it was the result of divorce.

I don't know why, but early in the marriage my mother, Jackie, decided that she did not want to live in small-town Upstate New York. She was not happy being married to an Italian-American firefighter whose only desire was to live a traditional family life. She must have felt burdened by her children as well.

So, when I was four and my brother, Marc, was five, Jackie left. Europe was her new home. When she returned two years later, it was not to be with her husband and children. New York City was her choice. If she did ask for custody, my father refused. I am forever grateful for his insightful, selfless, and loving decision. He must have known that we would be better off growing up in Schenectady with him.

I often felt frightened, alone, and different as a motherless child. There was no mom to great me with a snack after school or to kiss me goodnight. Mother's Day was meaningless.

I believe, however, that I am a stronger, more empathetic, compassionate, and loving person because of this experience. The painful shyness and overwhelming fears that haunted me as a child and young adult no longer exist. In fact, exploring the unknown and meeting new people are active pursuits!

For twenty-two years, I have been dedicated to helping people and bringing smiles to their faces through my career as an Occupational and Hand Therapist and my avocation of magician.

On Mother's Day, it is my father who gets the phone call!

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