Life! The miracle

  • And it began… A home where I lived and remember fondly when I was 7 cannot be found. The town it was in, Otterbein, is no longer on the map.
  • My favorite home when a child was far out in the hills of Southern California, a rambling ranch house with no neighbors for miles around. It is now a metropolis of concrete and high-end real estate! The house is gone!
  • Where I spent my teen years was a middle class white family neighborhood. It is now a Black-Chicano ghetto.
  • My high school burned down in my junior year.
  • The Institute for Biotic Resource Research where I worked and taught for seven years in Mexico no longer exists. It closed upon the election of the new president, who closed the previous president’s institutions, and established new ones of his own. The heads of the departments and colleagues with whom I worked are all gone to places unknown.
  • my best friend whom I worked with at the above Institute, died the year after I returned to the States.
  • The man who made our wedding rings, a long-time friend of my husband’s, died in an auto accident.
  • The doctor who delivered my first child died with all of his family in an auto accident.
  • The Alliance Française in Xalapa, Veracruz, with its combination large home and classrooms, where I got my first job as a language teacher, and where I lived with my family for 6 months as interim director, was torn down to widen an intersection. It’s gone.
  • My first “boss,” the director of the Alliance Française just mentioned, died years ago during an operation procedure.
  • The new large home and Alliance Française school later purchased by the director, where I worked afterward, is no longer a school. It was for many years after the director’s death, an inn and an art gallery. The art gallery is gone. The inn remains. The school no longer exists.
  • In the course of my married life, three wedding rings were stolen after my husband purchased a new one each time. I have not had one since.
  • The marriage that I intended to last forever, turned out to be never, husband unfaithful from the first month, and for the first ten years of our marriage.
  • The Cascade School for At-risk Youth where I taught In the Cascades, California for three years, closed shortly after I left. It doesn’t exist anymore.
  • The Catholic High School where I taught Spanish closed a few years after I left. It doesn’t exist anymore.
  • The Department Head and my manager when I was Supervising Health Advocate at the Shasta County Public Health Department were dismissed the year after I left because of inside corruption. I was a victim of their politics and fired by them just a few months before their bad policies came to light. Postscript: I was the one who brought it to light with our local Representative.
  • I’ve tried unsuccessfully three times, over a period of several years, to obtain transcripts or validation of the course of studies from the Sorbonne where I received my diploma (transcripts not given in my time), and  have never received an answer from them, not even a “no can do” response. I have not been able to obtain a teaching job, or even an interview! in San Diego without this, nor can I supply the appropriate documentation for eligibility to return for a masters.
  • The property we purchased in Mexico many years ago, with the intention of building our home there, was left to fate when I came back to the U.S. with my sons after my separation, and we have not been able to sell it to anyone. It has literally returned to the jungle, completely overgrown!
  • The closest people to me in my life, my eldest brother, and a dear friend and soul mate, with both of whom I shared all the joys and pains of life, have passed away, and my family now rarely communicates.
  • The France, so dear to me, where I found myself and where life began for me at the age of 18, is on the verge of disappearing under the return of the Muslim hordes.

Every home and place of importance once in my life has disappeared.  That’s called burning your bridges. God has led me all the away, eventually… His Home.  My heart is overwhelmed with the joy of finding all sacrifices turned to the precious gold of Faith unbroken. My past erased, has coincided with the moment in time when the past of the world, now discovered to be false and wicked, is to be erased as well. I am just in time to see the grace of a new world coming. I have no problem moving into this world. I’ve known the sacrifice; I’ve left the past. I am ready!  Dear Heavenly Father …bring it on! 

To God be the glory!

Home again?

We were met in Los Angeles by my cousin. I was met by “deja-vu”: the bus pulled in and let us out behind the train station, where I had once gone with my family as a little girl, for my brothers’ and my first train ride. Children remember the most unexpected things. As soon as I walked through the doors into the grand hall of this fabulous Art Deco station, I had an instant vision of a five-year old little girl, dressed in a red coat and matching red felt hat, sitting with her family in a restaurant whose big glass windows looked out on the highest ceiling she had ever seen with people scurrying in all directions, staring in amazement at the steaming cup of hot chocolate with a mountain of whipped cream and the hot cinnamon roll, topped by melted butter on a thick beige “cafe plate” set before her. A fork and knife were nicely laid out on a cloth napkin to one side. It was all new. It was all wonderful. Every little detail of that adventure returned to my mind, fresh as the day it had occurred. That magical moment for me had remained in the back of my mind, and had found its way back to me only then, as if to say: “Nothing has changed at all.” My years growing up, my travel to France and later to Mexico to marry and raise a family, the joys and heartbreaks of half a lifetime, seemed to be wiped away by this memory, as if something deep inside were telling me: “It’s OK now. You’re back where you belong.” I had, indeed, made full circle. After hugs all around, my cousin whisked this bedraggled group of bewildered travelers off to his waiting Cadillac and then to his house in Glendale, no more than a few blocks from the hospital where I had been born! We were “home”, but if anyone needed a decompression chamber to return to normalcy it was I. I had traveled to other countries, and been met with enough unexpected challenges in my life to be able to handle anything that came my way – I thought! Here I was at the end of a journey, and should have felt safe and relaxed. Instead, I felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under me. I didn’t “feel” American. All too easy for me to understand the bewildered, lost look on the faces of the growing number of immigrants from more humble origins who come to live in America. In the following months, my cousin would proceed to “re-Americanize” me, despite my reluctance to go out into this – inexplicably for me, given my origins – strange new world! The first thing I noticed is that there were no people. Indeed, the streets were bare of this life form and I couldn’t understand where everyone had gone. In Mexico, when you step out the door, you are “in people”. The streets are full of them coming and going, stopping to chat or exchange news. The sidewalk cafes are full of them at all hours of the day and night, and the stores, banks, churches, arcades of the government palaces, parks and plazas – you name it! – are full of them. It’s a very social place. As my cousin took us to all the required places in my re-Americanization process, I did my best to discover people along the way. The only ones I saw were in cars – backing out of driveways, going back and forth to town and racing madly along the many freeways that crisscrossed the area. One day after driving us all around town to get social security numbers for the kids, register them in school, catch up with their vaccinations, open my first ever bank account, apply for my first ever driving permit, sign up at the Social Services Department for welfare to help us get started (remember my savings never made it across the border), and pick up maps at AAA, my cousin said: “Let’s go get something to eat before we go home.” Straight ahead was a huge building, several city blocks square, with an interesting architecture but no windows. My cousin pulled into an opening to one side and down we went, three dimly-lit floors to find a place to park.. Aha! An underground parking lot. Across a dark, lonely passage between countless lines of parked cars, to find an elevator, and up we went. We were going to “The Mall”. What was my surprise when the doors finally opened to an impressively large open space, bright with skylights, when I saw – people! There they were. Hundreds of them – young families hanging on to restless children tugging at their arms or running to catch the “one that got away”, teen-agers gathered in front of the shops, bags of sundry sizes and colors hanging from their arms as they laughed, oohed, and aahed while sharing their “finds”, elderly gentlemen sitting silently in comfortable armchairs, waiting apparently for “Mom” to finish her shopping. Every inch of walking space was covered with people coming and going between the shops. So that’s where people go, I thought. Novel idea to meet under a big roof with the sole intention of buying their little hearts out. This was a first insight into a different America than the one I had known while growing up. It became obvious to me that social life in America was very much dependent on buying. I tested this out, hoping that other more cultural pursuits were harboring life, but inevitably I found the parks nearly empty, the playgrounds with only a few children, the library all too vacant, and even an occasional concert sadly lacking in attendance. My apologies to those who were living in more culturally/socially-inclined American cities. Remember this was my first impression of the States after living half a lifetime in cultures where people are everywhere to be seen. At least in Glendale, they were not. The kids assimilated well into their new schools, I began my search for work, and we spent the first few months enjoying “family” dinners with my cousin and his wife, chatting and watching movies at home in the evenings. I was starting to feel more confident, except for one thing – driving! I was 40 years old and had never driven before. This of course, needed fixing. You can’t live in California without knowing how to drive if you expect to live a normal life. So my cousin took me out several times a week in his little Volkswagen to learn. He was a good teacher. I did well as long as he was in the car and soon learned to get around in town and on the freeways with confidence. Learn to drive in Los Angeles, and you can drive anywhere! Then one day, he handed me the keys and said: “Go drive. You don’t need me now. It’s time for the bird to fly.” I was petrified! Alone? All by myself? But I did it. At 40, I learned to drive. I’m not the typical Californian. I am still “discovering” America, and I remain a “round peg in a square hole”. I guess I AM home.