Catherine Grella (21) talks with a friend, Susan Martins (77) about her close relationship with her two sisters, her childhood, and the family dynamics that have shaped her into the woman that she is today.
The order of the siblings is that Abby is the firstborn. She is about two and a half years older than me, and then I am next. And then Sophia is my younger sister, and then my younger brother is Ben. Sofia is about two and a half years younger than me, too. So the spacing between us is like, pretty equal, which is good because it's so we've met us so close, and he's the only boy. Sophie and I did gymnastics together. I remember I told you about that. And sometimes we trained so hard at such a young age. We were so fascinated by gymnastics that we would go probably 13 to 15 hours a week. And when you're like nine or ten, that's a lot of commitment. Like, think a young gymnast body going 13 to 15 hours a week in training and running and doing strength and conditioning. And it built our bodies to be very strong, which is something I'm thankful for. But in a way, it took away part of our childhood because we didn't get to see friends as much. And we really became so close, and we became each other's best friends because of all that time we would spend in the gym together. But the one thing that I wanted to say was that when Sophie and I were younger, although we would go to gymnastics super late into the night, I think it was like we'd be getting out around 845, so we wouldn't be getting home until nine. And my whole entire family would wake up at 09:00 so that we could have family dinner every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. My poor father must have been so hungry by 09:00 Wednesday, Friday. But they did it because they loved us, and they did it because they thought that that was important for us to eat together. I'm really happy that they did that. And in so many of the ways that they made these accommodations in my life growing up, are ways that I want to incorporate into my own family when I have it, because they're really special.
If you were to leave this interview for someone like, who would you leave it for?
I would definitely leave this for my parents and just in honor of them and all they've done, in away, my mom and my dad always wanted to give us the things that they didn't have growing up. So my dad, when he was 40, he had to take up music lessons all by himself and learn how to play the guitar and learn how to play the piano. And he's so fantastic at it. He has that creative brain where he can hear a song on the radio and just play the chords on the piano. And it's so amazing. But that was all taught to him by himself. And he just thinks, how good could I have been if I was given this when I was young?
So that was the philosophy he adopted when he enrolled us on piano lessons when we were in kindergarten, and they just never wanted to have any doubts of what our abilities could have been if we weren't given those tools. And I'm so thankful for that because I don't thank them enough, and I really, really should, but I should just sit down one day and say, thank you for always giving us all of the tools that you wanted us to have to be great in life and to find out what we loved.
Even Sophie and Ben didn't stick with piano, but at least they were given that tool to explore. And the same thing with sports. I'm so thankful that there was never a sport that I brought up to my parents, and they turned it down and they said, no, you can't do soccer. You can't do this; you can't do that. They were always so willing to be accepting our interests and accommodate them in any way that they could and help us, and that was something so special. Of course, I leave this interview for my siblings too, for them to know all the ways that they impacted me in my life and will continue to impact me in my life. But a lot of it is for my parents too, because it's only when you get older that you really appreciate all of the ways to which they were such good parents. And at college, it's sad, but I think it's there were so many things about my childhood that I took for granted. And it's only when you're at college and you're not surrounded by your immediate family anymore that you realize the things that you miss.