• Jillian Lentini

"Get A Good Day"

I'm a first generation American and grew up with a Polish and English speaking family. My father and immigrated here in 1960 with his parents, 3 siblings, and the clothes on their backs. By the time I was born, my Babci and Dziadziu spoke English fluently. However, even with fluency, her Polish accent would come through as well as some mixed phrases and words.

One of the things she said often as we were leaving her was “Get a Good Day”.

For years it made me laugh because I thought she meant to say “ have a good day” but mixed it up. I thought it was just one of her not quite right phrases that always brought a smile to my face like “wavemicro” for microwave or “hamburgies and huddogs” or “you I don’t know” instead of “you don’t know” to name a few.

But without fail she would hug and kiss us goodbye after every single visit, tell us she loved us, and tell us to “Get a Good Day”.

Over the years, I've found myself saying this phrase the way she said it. I say it to my husband my daughter etc.

At first it was like a little nod to my Babci, but the more I thought about the phrase, the more I realized how powerful that phrase was even if that wasn’t her intention all those years.

My Babci did not have an easy life. She lost both parents at a young age and was raised by family members who were less than thrilled to have another mouth to feed. She worked her entire life doing hard manual labor, survived being a work slave during WWII, and moved her entire family to America not knowing how or if they could make it. She once told me she cried almost every night for a year praying to God that she made the right choice to come here.

She sacrificed herself and any comfort she could have had to make her children’s lives better. She walked miles to and from work in all-weather because a the cost of a bus ride was 5 cents and that was 5 cents that could feed her family. I used to ask her why she didn’t take the bus when it was only 5 cents. And she would say “why I take bus, I have two good feet, why I need pay for a bus when I can walk and use the 5 cents for a loaf of bread”.

She worked opposite shifts of her husband so they could take care of their 4 kids with the youngest being only 2 at the time. She hand washed all their clothing in the bathtub, and hung it dry even when everyone else was buying washing machines and dryers. I don’t think she got her first washing machine until the mid 80s and even then, it wasn’t rare to go over and see all their clean clothes on the line outside drying because she rarely wasted money on the energy to use the dryer.

She worked her ass off to make sure her family didn’t have it as hard as she did.

My grandparents were far from rich, but through working hard and saving literally everything they earned, and only buying what they absolutely needed, they lived financially comfortable into their old age.

When her youngest was 5, she came home with a carton from school to collect money for the poor. And not knowing what to give, my Babci gave her 5 dollars towards it.

Nothing gave Babci more pride than telling this story and she told it many times laughing. She said her daughter came home crying because the other kids picked on her saying she was rich. Imagine the surprise my Babci had being called rich. Her daughter was so mad that she gave her so much and didn’t want to be called rich.

She loved telling that story because she did it, her sacrifices were worth it. Her kids had it better then she did so much that others thought they were rich kids. I always wondered if that was the moment that she realized it was worth the uproot and move here.

So fuck yeah go GET a Good Day. Getting a good day means you have the power to go get one.

Is it going to be a good one? Fuck yeah it is.

Having a good day leaves your actions or wants out of the equation. My grandmother was never a victim of her circumstances, even her painful and difficult background, she never complained about the hand she was dealt. She not only went and got a good day, she went and got herself a better life.

Every single time I leave my home in the morning, I tell my family I love them and to "Get a Good Day"!

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