Grandpa and the Lady

from Mary Mintey

I was still in my mother’s womb when my grandfather passed away. Even though I never met him, he exerted a strong spiritual influence over my life. My mother’s love for him was the living link between us. That and the family stories I heard from a young age. My favorite was the one about the Lady.

My grandfather grew up in a poor area of Italy not far from Naples. When he reached early manhood there was no job and no money, so he left for America. It was 1901; he was nineteen years old. He settled in an Italian neighborhood in New York City where he lived for the rest of his life.

He had neither an education nor a trade, so most of his working life was manual labor. When he grew too old for physical work he became the caretaker at a cemetery.

One evening, after the cemetery was closed and the gate was locked, he saw a lovely young woman walking among the gravestones. She was about sixteen years old, dressed in white. When he tried to speak to her, she smiled, then playfully ran away. He followed her, but she played hide and seek with him. He never found out who she was or why she was there.

He thought about her often in the several months before she returned. Again, it was after hours, the gate was locked. This time she was dressed in blue.

“Who are you?” he asked. “How did you get in?”

“Who do you think I am?” she said, answering him in his own Neapolitan dialect.

He was so startled he couldn’t move, overwhelmed by her beauty and the love emanating from her. By the time he recovered, she was gone.

After that, he thought of her constantly and looked for her every day. Several months passed before she returned. This time she was dressed in black.

“You are the Blessed Mother,” he said to her. “No other lady could be so beautiful and fill me with such joy. Please don’t go away.”

“Soon I will take you home with me,” she said.

When he got back to his house that night he gathered his family around him, including my mother, with me in her womb. He told them about the Lady.

“Soon I am going to die,” he said. They knew he was telling the truth, but they could hardly believe it. Four days later the Lady kept her promise. In the middle of the night, my grandfather had a heart attack and died.