We Choose Family

Fall 74 Pitt-Temple gameWe talk.  Hours and hours.  Pouring over pictures on my phone, the computer, albums and albums.

Tonight, looking through some things I had saved, she saw a picture from New Horizons of herself, asking for a host family for her.

Why this? She asked.

I explained that I wanted her to come to America so, so badly that I was writing, writing, asking people to host her.

She knitted her brow, grabbed the translator and typed frantically. “You want me to go to another family?”

No, no, my sweet girl.  Never.

I told her that I saw that she was athletic, and I thought, no…she would never be happy here with me.  She should go to California, to Florida, with a family of runners, where she can play sports with a wonderful family.

She looked at me.  “Why you think that?  You know I hate running.  Hate, hate, hate.”

I laugh, because, ja, I know.  But before, I think that she would not like me.  That she would not be happy here, that I would not be a good family for her.  So I ask and ask for another family.  All the time so sad.

And so I tell her the story of how I chose her.  How I was so sad, and how I wanted her so badly.  But I loved her so much I wanted her to be happy more than I wanted her all to myself.  And that my friend told me, “Will you be excited if she is hosted, or will you be sad that she is not hosted by YOU?”  And I knew that I would have tears and tears without her here with me.  So I said, come home.  Come be part of my family.

“But why?  Why you pick me?  Why you want me?”

Oh, my dear one.  For so many reasons.  And I counted them aloud.

Your strength.  Your bravery.  Your heart.  Your smile.  The way you seemed like mine from the second I saw your picture.  I prayed and I knew.  Ya lyublyu tebya.  Gimene.  Family.  How could you go somewhere else?

Her face.  The same face Little Man has when I tell him of the day he was born.

This was the story of the day she was born in my heart.

And I will tell it, over and over and over.

And she tells me how she chose me.  Her director says, “Do you want to go to America?”  She found me on Facebook and poured over the few public photos I have.

She sees me dressed in costume.  Fun family.

She sees our refrigerator behind me in a picture.  Looks like nice home.

She sees a picture of my parents from early in their marriage.  John Lennon?

Yes, okay, I go to America.

And she tells me which pictures I looked good in, and which pictures are bad.  My chin makes me look very fat in this one.  The angle in that one, very foo.

How have I lived without her in my life all of these years?

The truth of this girl.  The humor.  The sly sauciness.

Tonight she tells me I am not a real woman.  I use a dishwasher.  I do not own a sponge.  I am never going to find a man if I let a machine do my job.  I laugh as she scolds me, makes me wash a pot and oversees the process.

She asks to make the potatoes for dinner.  Of course.  She makes them differently than I do—boils them, skin and all, then peels them hot.  I like this new system.  I let her show me, lead me, giggling together the whole time.  I tell her that I do not like to make potatoes because of the peeling, but this is so much easier.

And she grins, and says, “When I go, you will want for potatoes, and you will say ‘Ohhh I need to make potatoes…Sunshine come back, come back!!’  How you make these when I gone?”

With tears, my girl.  Daudz and daudz and daudz of tears.

But instead I say, “Those will be expensive potatoes, to fly you back to America to cook for me!  But yes, I think I would.”

And she laughs and tsk, tsk, tsks my skills in the kitchen, and she helps me prepare a meal, but I know that we are making something so much more.

We are choosing to make ourselves a family.

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