1. HOST JACKIE TANTILLO - My Grandmother Kept Me Safe With Guest Russian Immigrant Irina Lester 27:49

All we need is one special person in our life to change our destiny. When Irina mentioned that her grandmother had taught her to sew, I knew there was something very telling about her maternal role models in her life.  Irina introduces us to her mother, Etya and Grandmother Beyla, who was a seamstress. Unfortunately, Etya’s father died when she was a young teen in Russia.

Etya was born and lived in Russia till the age of 25. She was one of three children, came from a poor family at a time when it was difficult to be successful in Russia. Etya was the kind of child that “always wanted more than what was available,” says my guest about her mom.

My guest, Irina was born in Russia  and came to America as a Jewish refugee when 2 1/12 years old.  What is it like to grow up with a mother who always thought of herself first?  “She told me I  that I was worthless and stupid all the time” says Lester of her mother.  “I was always in her way and she was always exhausted by me.” Irina says she developed survival skills at a very young age.

It wasn’t until Beyla, Irina’s grandmother, insisted on taking her granddaughter to her place of work as a seamstress or to her home, “where she felt safe, loved and cared for and allowed to be a kid,” continues Lester. This is when and how Irina’s life started to turn around.  I know that there are many children that never get this lifeline through out their life. Irina got lucky but there certainly are many scars that she wears with frustration, hurt  and humility.

Previously divorced and a single mom, Irina struggled to care for her young daughter, so she’s familiar with what her mother experienced, but it doesn’t mean that you have the right to mistreat and/or abuse your child because you are a narcissist. 

“The local Yarn Store”,  in  large part, is due to the influence her grandmother had on my guest’s life. Beyla introduced  Irina  to embroidering and hand stitching and so much more.  Irina says, “my grandmother taught me to appreciate the beauty and the creative process and the functionality of the basics of clothing.”  Luckily, Irina inherited her grandmother’s sewing machine and is now an avid knitter.

Hear the full story when you listen to this episode of SHLTMM.