Snowed in. Buried under.
Saturday, the snow starts to fall late morning during Olive’s 4th birthday party. Olive wears the sunny yellow hat Meg knitted. Snow-pants and mittens, boots and hats go on. Grandpa Tom and Uncle Paul with HIS grandson David, visiting from London, head out with the rest of the kids from the party. Outside there’s a bit of sun, and alot of gray. City sidewalks and narrow yards are freshly dusted, soft and white. Snowballs are loosely packed. Hard to throw. There are rides on a purple sled. Some of us watch the fun from the window. I’m transported to Bucktown in the 80s. Snow and kids. Some things are timeless and universal.
Inside, Meg sits in a cozy chair with a children’s book, her second child, a boy is due to arrive in a few weeks. Talk moves toward the power of books. Meg tells us about teaching Immigration to junior high kids, using Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, a migrant story, told in stunning pictures, and no words. http://www.shauntan.net/books/the-arrival.html.
“A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean…He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope.” (about The Arrival)
Tom joins the conversation with a story about his grandmother Deborah – a Greek born in Turkey, coming through Ellis Island in 1919, after rescuing her motherless half-sister, found begging on a street in Turkey. They made the journey together, crossing the Atlantic ocean to New York’s welcoming shore. Relations in Chicago were awaiting their arrival.
When asked year later, “Are you Greek or are you Turkish?” Tom’s Aunt Fofo replied.
“I’m American. Those other countries didn’t want me.”
There are countless stories of brave people coming to America, trying to fit in, making a new life, and successfully making their way. Many of us are dumbfounded at this shift in the conversation, in this uneasy political climate today. A government shutdown. Gainfully employed Americans receiving kindness from strangers at food banks! There is work to be done. And listening needed. Let’s get on with it! And find a common language, a route to resolution, and keep hope alive for one another. And may we continue to find joy in all the new arrivals!
Read about Jamie’s Feb 15 Valentine concert with Anne Hills and John Erickson here: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/feb15-wishbone/
On Music, Motherhood, Activism, Grandmotherhood and More.
Jamie will appear on After Hours, with host Rick Kogan,
Listen Sunday, Feb 10 from 9 – to 11 PM on WGN Radio 720 AM.