Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Naively optimistic

My parents, sister, and I immigrated to the United States in 1982 in the heat of one of the worst recessions.

We fled from the iron gates surrounding Poland and didn't look back at the long lines of our fellow countrymen waiting for their communism ration cards for groceries. We arrived in Chicago and were welcomed with a sweltering heat wave that summer and long lines at gas pumps with people murmuring words like "recession" and "unemployment." My mother, years later, confessed that she cried herself to sleep when she realized she left one country for another and was still waiting in lines.

"Co to jest recession?" or "What does recession mean?" I remember thinking as a kindergartner while flipping through one of three TV channels during the evening news, in our one bedroom apartment, two stories above a congested street.

We were not affected by that recession. Mainly because we had nothing but each other. We came to America with the clothes on our backs and some packed away in one suitcase. My parents swallowed their pride and accepted "handouts" knowing that things would turn around eventually through their hard work. The CRS paid for our plane tickets to America. Another Catholic service paid for my kindergarten year at Saint Someoneoranother on Addison. Toys for that Christmas were purchased at garage sales and stored in big black garbage bags in a tiny hall closet. My father, one of Gdansk's most successful engineers with a promising career in Poland swallowed his pride and left his loafers for construction boots to work as an apprentice roofer. Each night we slept soundly knowing we were together. We were not affected by that recession.

Sometimes. It takes a lot to realize that being together truly is a priceless thing and worth more then anything.

Left: Me in Poland ; Right: Green card picture of my sister, mother, and me


Naively optimistic views on our current economy, I know.

It's totally justified today. My MIL had surgery last week and found new spots on her lungs. So kumbaya views on the recession it is.

45classy comments:

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Very nice post - highlighting what is important, despite the very real worries that are affecting everyone.

Mr Lady said...

Oh, no. Hugs to all of you.

Melissa said...

Sometimes we just need to be optimistic...whether naively or not!!

Your mil is in my thoughts.

the mama bird diaries said...

I'm so sorry about your Mother In Law. Let's all stay positive about everything.

JCK said...

I'm sorry about your MIL, too.

As always I love your stories about coming from Poland. A unique and refreshing perspective, indeed.

imee said...

I have to say this is a great post and I can relate to it. No, my family never immigrated, but I know how being "poor" (for a lack of a better word) is like. I spent my childhood wearing hand-me-downs, and even though we had a big house (because we inherited it) we had no electricity, not nearly enough water, and our family of six lived by sharing a can of sardines per meal. I just somehow hoped we'd be able to rise from our own little "recession" at home and we did.so even if this new recession is affecting us and the whole world, I know somehow I'm still lucky.

PS: I hope your mother in law gets well.

-Imee

Jeni said...

Is thinking positive thoughts being naively optimistic? If so, then that's what I am too. Think only positively about your MIL, allow no negativity to creep in as negativity, especially with health issues, tends then to cast a terrible pall over everything else and makes finding good in anything very difficult.
And as to the recession, for some, as it works its way through society, it will mean only a tiny bit of belt-tightening and for others, very drastic changes, perhaps. But, as long as we all realize we have things, not of material value, but other values still with us, we can and will all survive. Maybe a little rougher around the edges for the wear and tear, but stronger none the less.
Just have faith that all will be okay over time.

kim-d said...

I loved this post; optimism, in all its forms, is a good thing, I think. What good does it do to be negative. If that helped solve problems, I'd say fine, be negative. But it doesn't. I've always liked the saying "If you can't be part of the solution, at least don't be part of the problem." Being negative is being part of the problem. So, kudos to you, OHMommy for being optimistic, naively or otherwise! I would expect nothing less of you! **prayers and good thoughts only for your MIL**

Two things jump right out at me from those pictures: 1) How much you look like your Mother, and 2) Looking at the picture of you as a baby/toddler in Poland is like looking at a picture of Fifi, only with dark, curly hair! To me, the resemblance is amazing.

I am so glad your family took the chance and came here in 1982; SO glad. Otherwise I wouldn't "know" you...and I like "knowing" you! :)

Maggie May said...

This is fascinating and important- to say and write the truth out loud is so important- this IS what matters, but the less we say it, the less we remember. We need to remind each other.

You and sister and mother are so beautiful.

Lisa said...

I think the silver lining is that it makes you focus on what's really important. Lovely post.
Still praying for you & your family.

Kari said...

Wow! I had no idea you had gone through that! Your parents are so strong! What an amazing and inspirational story. Thanks for sharing it with us.
By the way...love the name of the School you attended. I chuckled. Yes, I did. Maybe even snorted. ;)

Indy said...

So sorry about your MIL. Lots and lots of prayers heading your way.

krissy said...

Your very positive and cute. I love it.

Prayers for your mil. I completely understand this post. There is always something worse to worry about and there is always something better to be thankful for.

I'm choosing to be optimistic that your MIL will survivie yet another fight with cancer.

Kel said...

Sometimes realizing what we already have is as important as realizing what we would like to have. Appreciate today...work for tomorrow.

I'm sorry to hear about your MIL...hope all turns out ok.
Thinking of you and your family!
~K

Denise said...

So sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. I will keep her in my prayers.

You blog was timely for me today. On the way to work I had to stop and think about how lucky I am compared to others. I was watching the kids go to school, in shorts and pajamas. They were walking in front of cars, clueless and uncaring as to how rude they were being. My mother would have beaten me if I acted or dressed inappropriately. Growing up my mother was a widow and was fortunate enough to have much assistance from her and my father’s families. It wasn’t easy for her but she made do with what she had. We may not have had a lot; but we were comfortable. I am guessing those school kids really didn't have anyone that cared enough as to what they wore to school or how they behaved. I am fortunate to I live a comfortable, healthy life with many that care about me. I may not have all the many things I want but I really am happy.

Danielle (Life with the Hewitt Family) said...

Great posts! What a wonderful thought of remembering that your family is what is most important, not things!

amanda said...

i like the post. i think being optimistic is the only way to 'get through it'. praying for you mil.

Rachel said...

What a great post! Your optimism is exactly what people need to keep in mind at this point. America has become so preoccupied with stuff, and has forgotten the value of family and togetherness.

Your MIL is in my thoughts.

Kelly said...

You make a great point. My mom always talks about how tight money was when I was younger but you know what?? My brother's and I didn't notice. We had everything we needed and didn't realize that there could be more. Having each other is what it's all about.

Becca said...

I think the only way to sanely survive something like this is to be optimistic, whether it is naively or not. Also to remember how truly blessed we are to have one another. As you said, being together it worth more then anything.

Also, I am so sorry to hear about your MIL. I will definitely say a prayer for her!

Stephanie said...

Sorry to hear about your MIL. Hang in there. If I lived closer, I'd do something for you like make you dinner. Instead I'll say a prayer for you!

Nap Warden said...

Sorry about your MIL. I am having a real hard time staying positive these days. I gotta shake it...

Legallyblondemel said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful, personal, frank dose of perspective. Such a heartfelt post.

Continuing to send good thoughts to you & your MIL.

♥ spoiled mommy ♥ said...

You MIL is in my thoughts & prayers. Beautiful post.

Blessings From Above said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your MIL. Please know you'll all be in my thoughts and prayers.

I am P said...

The power of positive thinking is priceless :) Positive thoughts for MIL!

Meg said...

totally off the subject...fifi looks JUST like you!! miss you guys!

carrie said...

Nothing wrong with a little light P. I hope your MIL is recovering well and you're right, it's nice to have your family right there with you under one roof. Sometimes eachother is enough. :)

Krystyn said...

What you say is so true. I wish that more people would embrace their families and stop caring so much about money!

And, oh my, you and Fifi look so much alike!

Jessica said...

It is so interesting to hear about where you came from! I love these stories! Thanks for sharing.

Mark said...

Thank-you for sharing your story. The recession and how it impacts each of us is truly a matter of perspective.

Courtney said...

Very humbling post...thank you for putting it into perspective for us.

Jen said...

I think optimism is the only way to go...wallowing does nothing but make you feel worse. I'm keeping your family in my thoughts.

Domestic Extraordinaire said...

Being optimistic is really the only way to be. How sad & depressing would life be if we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Many prayers and healing thoughts coming to your MIL. ((hugs))

Elaine A. said...

Your family's story is very inspiring.

Prayers for you MIL.

Scary Mommy said...

I wish I had your optimism!! I love hearing your family stories and will be thinking of your MIL... xox

So Not Mom-a-licious said...

That is a great story and so very true! There is asolutely no price to put on family. Those are great pictures! Take care of your family and I'm sending hope your MIL's way to beat this cancer!

Rhea said...

I listen to NPR a lot, and it sounds like Ireland is in bigger trouble than we are.

Lovely post. I love hearing about your past, Poland and coming to America. Great photo. Your mother, sister and you are all beautiful

the planet of janet said...

it's always all about family. always.

sending prayers for your mother-in-law ...

Diva Ma said...

This was beautiful and helps me to realize that I have do much as long as I have my family with me. No other complaints about the smaller things in life matter.

Heidi said...

sorry to read about your MIL. She is in my prayers.

You look a lot like your mother. You are both very beautiful!

Laski said...

I've always been cautiously optimistic.

Life is just too short to be any other way.

As for your MIL. We've been there. Watching T go through it . . . it was a marriage milestone for us. And in the end . . . all good things.

Positive, prayerful thoughts to you.

Heather, Queen of Shake Shake said...

What a wonderful reminder. Thank you for this!

donmillsdiva said...

Sometimes naively optimistic is the absolute best way to be.

I'll pray for your mother-in-law.

Karen MEG said...

Oh no, thinking about your MIL..

 

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