A Walk Through Deb's Life

By debsthoughts

Me - All Over the Map

I was born and raised in Southern California. Lived in the Chicago area in the 90's. Back to my roots in 2001. Returned to Chicago in 2006. Back and forth - not exactly 'all over the map' but the history of my family, like many Americans, has covered much more land than me.

My maternal grandparents emigrated from Russia in the very early 1900's - Bellarus, I've heard. They saw the great statue as they stepped foot onto Ellis Island in search of a better life than they'd left behind. When I visited Ellis Island on my 50th birthday, I viewed the photos of immigrants wondering if any of those might be mine, but of course, it isn't likely. I caught a small glimpse in my imagination of what that landing might have been like for two uneducated young Russians in love and full of hope. I know the life they found in America was not easy and perhaps they never did find the miracles they searched for. They settled in northern Ohio and my grandfather worked a dirty job in the steel mill. I'm pretty sure he died of lung disease - I never got to know him. Neither learned to speak English (and I never learned Russian) so by the time my grandmother passed, when I was sixteen, it was too late for me to hear her stories first hand. Those that I did hear were biased and most were filled with shameful renditions of what poverty feels like. I'm sure there was joy in my mother's house with nine children, but I heard no stories of joy. Therefore I must create my own. Some of my cousins who have lived their lives in the same community as our grandparents, have very different stories and I am blessed to have those.

My father's family has a very long history right here in my part of the country, which I find intriguing. His ancestors may have also arrived by way of Ellis Island with roots possibly from Ireland, but again, I have no stories. My father always chuckled when asked about his heritage - "Heinz 57 variety," is all he would say. Sometimes he would say he thought there was 'Native American' there somewhere...it always felt strange for me to not be certain. But I always hung on dearly to my Russian side, since that I know for sure.

The picture is my bulletin board in my office/art room. It represents me - all over the map. And I do hope to visit many more spots on the map in the years to come.

Thanks for stopping by...

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