My grandparents stepped off a ship from Brazil to Los Angeles, California 50 years ago to this day. They waited 9 years hoping that their life would lead them to the United States for a much needed ear surgery for my grandfather. He suffered with great hearing loss and infections since he was a toddler from the explosions of war in Latvia. Most of their baptist community decided they should move to the United States and start anew. However, their requests were denied due to quotas that had already been filled. So off to Brazil they went. They settled there, living in tents and sharing food for the first 6 months or so. They spent time trying new foods, learning how to live off the land (most of them had been farmers), farming for others and pooling together their money to buy their own land. Soon they had successful silk farms, rice fields and peanut crops. My grandfather asked my grandmother out when she was sixteen and he proposed to her that very night. Talk about ballsy. She said no, like any respectable 16 year old would, and told him she had to grow up first. He stuck by her side and was very persistent. This I can understand because I have many stories regarding the stubbornness of my grandfather in my own life. But that is for another day. So at 21 she said yes. Little Freddy came along 5 years later along with a successful photography business and being baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Thus brings us up to speed with the great ship on mark for LA. Back then you had to have a sponsor to come into the United States. A sponsor is someone who is a upstanding citizen and is able to vouch for your actions and support you monetarily if needs be until you become a citizen yourself. Luckily, a missionary that converted them was more than happy to be their sponsor. Since he lived in Big Bear, CA that is why they went to California. As they say, the rest is history. 6 grand kids, 10 great grandchildren later they are still a symbol of strength, humor, growth and endurance.
I look back on all of the circumstances that have taken place for me to be here in this life,in America, being the person I am and I feel greatly blessed for the sacrifices my grandparents made. To leave their home in Latvia in search of a better life. Then again leave their home in Brazil in search of hope for so much pain and suffering my grandfather had experienced much of his life. Then as they decided as a family almost immediately that they would stay even after the surgeries were done. I am thankful today for that and for blessings, for our freedoms and for our agency. I am thankful for family and for the power of examples. My grandmother told me when I moved to a new high school, "Don't complain if you don't have any friends. It is your responsibilty to go up to someone that looks like you might like to be friends with and be her friend. You speak english. You can talk. You can try! I did not speak english, but I had to work hard and try hard and I made friends, see?"
Now I must dress for the party and celebrate!
5 years ago