To the Ones Left Behind

For those of us whose ancestors came to the US long ago, the thoughts of those left behind may no longer fill our minds. However, for recent immigrants and refugees, those left behind are a constant presences in their lives. Everyday, I see this in the faces of those to whom I teach English as a second language. Everyday, I walk the tightrope of asking students to share experiences, while praying they do not fall into the PTSD caused by living and escaping the unimaginable.

The stories of my ancestors are fragmented at best. I know some dates. I know some facts. I can only imagine the rest. 

My mother's father, my Grandpa, was first generation American. Born in NYC shortly after his family arrived from what is now Slovakia. Doing my genealogy, I have learned that the family returned to the Old Country when he was a toddler and returned when he was 14, just months before the start of the First World War. At that time, Kosicka Bela (now Kosice) was part of Austria-Hungary. Who knows what caused them to flee back to the US. 

My father's father, my Papa, was second generation American. His grandfather arrived in the US sometime between his 14 and 19 birthday. He was born in Germany in 1826. 

Both my grandmothers were of Irish descent.  Both were second generation; their families coming across the pond  to flee the Great Famine. I know nothing of their stories other than what I read in history books and biographies.

Yet, I carry my ancestors with me, as my children and grandchildren will. They are part of our DNA - part of the energy of all that is and will ever be.

The poem above is written in tribute to them as well as my students. Won't you, in the memory of your ancestors, those who left it all to come here to this country, please consider supporting my 30 Poems in November! efforts. 

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Thank you!


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