Honoring My Grandparents' Triumph
I was born in Mexico City and moved to the United States in 1970. Four years later, I became a naturalized U.S. citizen at the age of 10. I have known entrepreneurialism my entire life, and to better understand my story and the reason I am grateful for the freedom and opportunities that I enjoy today, you need to know from where I descend. Freedom to me is paramount to the success in my life.
I come from a very long line of hardworking entrepreneurs and immigrants. A few months before my ancestors' unexpected departure, their Polish village was demolished by the Bolsheviks, who with inhuman cruelty executed without cause my great-grandparents and three of their boys, while forcing their daughters (one of whom was my grandmother) to witness. As if that were not enough, the soldiers raped and savagely beat them, leaving them traumatized and scarred for life.
Thankfully, my paternal grandmother boarded a ship from Poland with her two sisters and their three orphaned nephews. This was just before the Nazis annihilated what was left of their village, after the Russian pogroms in the late 1920s. Their journey across the Atlantic Ocean took about a month, in an overcrowded ship, where they were treated worse than the cargo. They left their country with only the clothes on their backs and a few coins in their pockets.
"They left their country with only the clothes on their backs and a few coins in their pockets."
When my grandmother and aunts arrived in North America, they entered through the port of Veracruz in Mexico. Unable to speak the language, they clung to the other Eastern Europeans, who led them to Mexico City. With the help and support of other immigrant families who had already established roots, they began to find their way. They created businesses, learned to speak Spanish, and started their lives in that new country.
In time, they each married, and my grandmother Rose gave birth to my father and uncle. Before my father and uncle were adults, my grandmother and her sisters, along with their husbands, created a successful scrap-metal family enterprise and owned two whole blocks in downtown Mexico City.
My mother’s side of the family mirrors this story. By spending time with both sets of grandparents, I grew to understand the depth of their scars and the magnitude of what they endured to reach the shores of North America. Those sacrifices required the kind of courage and tenacity that I cannot fathom sitting here in my beautiful Texas home.
As an immigrant, I understand the hardships of learning a new language and the challenges of assimilating into a foreign culture. One thing is sure: I will forever cherish and strive to honor my grandparents’ triumph over unimaginable adversity by honoring their memory with the determination to serve others through my work.
This post is part of a series produced by CircleAround and NAWBO. Founded in 1975, NAWBO is the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs in the United States.
Linda Ratner, 56, is a highly experienced business owner in the San Antonio, Texas, area who has started, built, and sold a $40 million dollar business and started again. She currently is a certified EOS implementer.
GIRL SCOUT AFFILIATION: Yes, I was a Girl Scout for three years. It was a great experience for me and I have a ton of memories of working toward my patches every year. It was also the only time that I was around other mother figures, and that was a good thing for me, since I grew up without a mother. Later in life, I helped with my daughter's Brownie troop while my husband led both of our boys' Cub Scout troops. It was a very positive experience!