“ME…IN THE AGING MIRROR…”

mirror1Over the last few years I’ve been on a hell-of-a-ride that, by a whisker, I live to tell their tale. The reason I begin my blog this way is to inform that not even the word grateful depicts how I feel to be alive: in the truest sense of that word—living. In the before I was appreciative; now I know life to be in the hands of each moment. Sure, I still plan and anticipate and hope because, well because I’m here. Yet, the feelings behind the words hell-of-a-ride are still brittle. When they strengthen I’ll tell their story.

Today follow me into the Aging Mirror… At my age I tend not to look into any mirror, let alone one with the word aging in it. But in spite of this confession, stick with me because I have a feeling we will both learn something. First I must set the stage for my mirror: Father Time and Circumstances. The Supporting Actors: experience, knowledge, right place/wrong time, troubles, second chances and intentions.

My childhood: Italian Father/English Mother and the associated forty-two first cousins may make clear my mad desire to record/write/blog whatever I observed or experienced. My first writings are in a red plastic diary with a small silver key and today books and blogs and life stories. When young I took no notice of time fleeting. But these days I ask Mother Earth to slow the milliseconds without upsetting gravity.

As to looking into the aging mirror these days; well that is a Horse of a Different Color. As Dorothy discovered in the Wizard of Oz she’d had the choice to return to Kansa all along; just a click of her Ruby Red Slippers. The analogy here for me is that when I look into the aging mirror these days I too have an option. I can choose to look away from what time has created or I can look with admiration at the woman I’ve fought to become. It isn’t what I see in the mirror—it is instead what is reflected back.

“THE IMMIGRANT PORCH…”

immigrants

The Ship Hector Ledger, 1773

Inevitably, spring arrived and the warmth of the sun brought forth new life. As people worked together, communities formed and began to prosper, creating new opportunities for the future generations to come.

Stories—lived or told—of yesterday’s immigrant porches are of generational gathering places where the past and the present were inseparable: an assembled sense of place.

My mind’s eye recollects a childhood in Corazon de Trinidad (Heart of Trinidad) where Italian and English emigrants gathered on our concrete porch. The elders rocked in wooden chairs and talked quietly (not always) in their native tongue. The women, in turn, exited a squeaky screen door near the kitchen: a warning to every wayward child that the guards were on duty. The men—their hands stained yellow with nicotine—leaned against the two red brick pillars that supported the porch or sat on the four crumbling concrete stairs that led to the front door. It was here they verbally wrestled one another—sometimes all at once—over the politics at the coal fields where they worked.  

Me… Well at seven I finally left the security of those red pillars wearing new tap shoes that clicked and clacked as I danced down the four concrete stairs and onto the red brick that lined our streets. My mother had determined: “Tap lessons might just cure your shyness.”

Today, black-and-white photographs suspend my immigrant family in time without end. And yet, to this day, I measure my sovereignty by the immigrant voices on our porch.

So I ask: “Might we, in some way, find our Immigrant Porch once again in the integration of family and values somehow lost as we all tapped away from our past?”