Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The American Dream Still Exists

Here is a school picture of Hipolito.  Now he is 17.

I wonder what it was like for my great (great, great) Grandfather, John Peter Moerschall,  to leave his home in Heidelburg, Germany, say a “til we meet in Heaven” goodbye to his family, board a ship that he’d never been on before and cross the ocean to “America, the Land of Opportunity”. I don’t know what his real experience was like.  If he was feeling excitement, sorrow, fear, or all three.  But I had a glimpse into what his experience may have been like when I took Hipolito to the airport last week.

Hipolito only had one suitcase, but the van was filled with his father who had already immigrated, a brother who was going with him and 17 other relatives including sisters, a half-brother, nieces and nephews, and his mother.

Who saw my grandfather off?  Was his mother’s eyes also so filled with tears and sadness that that she could not speak?

When our group of 20 people arrived at the airport we had two hours before the flight left. After checking in, the family tried to make small talk, but it was more silence and rocking in place while looking anywhere but in the eyes of the mother.  Finally they decided to all hug the father, Hipolito and his brother, sending them off through passport control and security.  Hipolito, embarrassed to cry, stepped outside for a minute until he was ushered back in and given his passport.

Bending low and waving, all 17 relatives who would remain in Belize watched as the travelers got their passports stamped and passed through the security archway.  An hour remained until the plane would leave.
All of the relatives watching the plane disappear into the clouds.
I don’t know if my great great great grandfather's mother was even at the dock in London when John Moerschall's ship sailed for New York, but I imagine that they were there...watching.  Maybe he stood on the deck and waved just like Hipolito’s family stood watching for him to board the plane.  No one talked.  Even the little nieces and nephews knew something serious was happening, so they just clung to the skirts of their mothers or rested on their hips. When the plane took off in the air everyone waved and must have been thinking, "When will we ever see each other again?" 
Was John Peter Moerschall’s mom also wondering that question? Did she feel like they had said the last spoken words they would ever say to each other?   

When the plane was just a speck beyond the clouds, we gathered the children and headed back to the van. The tears flowed and flowed like we had been at a funeral, and in some ways, we had.

I suspect the experience was a little different for Hipoloito.  Riding in a plane for the first time would have been exciting. The stewardess would have asked him if he wanted earphones while he was trying to figure out how to manipulate the little TV on the back of the seat in front of him. He probably wondered if he had to pay for the coke he was given for free, with ice, even.  Maybe his thoughts lingered on the sad goodbyes but soon he would have been looking ahead to what it would be like in America.   He would attend the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin.  He would be surrounded by deaf people and high tech equipment. He would get to hug his deaf brother who immigrated 6 years ago. Their first hug in 6 years would last long and also be tear-filled.

What does Hipolito’s future hold? Lots of good things. We will miss him.  We already do.  But we know God will be with him, guiding him and beckoning Hipolito to make good choices.

John Peter Moerschall, great great great Grandpa, I wouldn’t be here without the choices you made. Thanks for chasing the dream.

No comments:

Post a Comment