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Carmela Frances DeLisa


 My grandmother was iconic.


From beginning to end, her life intrigued and inspired me. The love story between my grandmother and grandfather is beautiful. She was an Italian girl living on Long Island and he was a farm boy from Indiana. He enrolled in the airforce during WWII, they met at an ISO dance, and they continued to write letters to each other while he was overseas. Upon marrying my grandfather, she moved to his rural community where she learned to appreciate a culture she knew nothing about. I've heard people remark with a chuckle that she was the only woman they had ever known to wear fashionable hats while riding a tractor.   


As a little girl, Carmela taught me how to celebrate beauty and femininitiy. We would spend hours looking through her jewelry box together as she would tell me stories about each piece. Pearls were her favorite. I remember watching her carefully and skillfully apply her pink lipstick after every meal we had together. It didn't matter if we were in public or at home, she always did.     


What my grandmother taught me about beauty and grace goes far beyond the exterior. Through raising seven children with my grandfather, there were plenty of opportunities to make mistakes. However, she showed me that it's not the mistakes that define us, but the way we grow from them through learning how to accept and give grace freely. 


I read this proverb often as it was framed on her wall... 


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

-Reinhold Niebuhr


Using her name in my photography title inspires me to celebrate and create beauty the way she taught me to. Even more importantly, it reminds me to love others and embrace grace in its entirety.  


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