Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Lunchtime at work is always the time of day I look forward to because I can do some cooking in the kitchen. While I'm sitting around the table all kinds of ingredients come out for the recipe of the Day.

Today my friend José sits with me and we start talking about the politics of our different countries. He starts our discussion about culture by him telling me that he wanted to be buried in his country when he died. I guess I was kind of surprised because his wife and children are here in America. His wife is American and his children are Mexican-American. I questioned him about whether or not he had considered his family may want to visit his graveside. He was sure that because of his tradition they would understand. I have witnessed a lot of funerals and my experience with the families left behind has been the statement most declared is, no one told me that!

Death is something that a lot of people would rather not discuss. The wishes of the deceased are sometimes never carried out because all the immediate family members were not told of the deceased wishes. It can be a very disturbing time for those left behind, even with the best plans. Heartstrings are not easily broken.

I listened to Jose intently as he told his story of his sacrifices to be in this country. He said that he had told his story before many times but a lot of people did not believe him. He was seven years old when he started working in Mexico to help his parents at home financially. He would take his monies home to his mama when he got paid and she would give him what she thought he needed. After high school, he chose work over more education because he saw the poverty in his town and he wanted to help his family.

When José came to this country with his father he came to work tobacco. Coming over here he had to do whatever was necessary to survive. That included drinking unclean water from creeks where cattle and other animals drank, along with whatever else the animals did at the drinking hole. One of the things that I admired while listening to José's story was how he always used his money to help his family including a brother that was furthering his education as a doctor.

While I sit at that table with my friend listening to his experiences on this side of the border I realized that he earned his rights to be in this country and to enjoy the fruits of his labor some 30 plus years later. I also realized that as an American voter I could not go along with any immigration policies implemented that would change his ability to stay here now or ever. There are people born in this country that have not earned the right as much as this man that sat in front of me to live in this country freely.

I cannot imagine what it must feel like for people that come to this country, in the name of freedom from poverty or religious persecution, must emotionally and mentally go through wondering, if today will be the day. The day that a person in the White House with the power of the pen, could change in just one moment in time, their entire destiny if they deemed it necessary.

It is amazing how, by just hearing someone's story, it can empower you, with knowledge that could change the course of history, by your power to vote. When people’s entire level of existence can be affected by a law, in my opinion this law has to be voted upon by the entire population of a country.

I feel that the jury of our peers should be implemented in this situation. The jury should be all the voting people of the land. Knowing someone and being able to put a face in the story, makes all the difference as to how one understands the implications of the charges and sentencing. It seems to reason that when we as a people stop getting in the business of how our country implements its decisions on law, we also stop caring about what freedom represents.

I am grateful to my friend José, for sharing some of his story with me because I hear this story in the many faces of survival in our country called the land of the Free. For me, this means that every one should listen to one another's stories before we just believe what we are told is in the best interest of our country. We are talking about people's lives, not numbers.

The next time I hear about immigration issues I will be really paying attention to what is being said for the sake of my many friends faces that I have a name for not just a number.

I am so grateful for the kitchen table and what is served up there for the soul.

Submitted by: Brenda Williams/Sacred flower @ The Writer's Cafe'

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