Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Chaldean

A Proud Aunt

The Nieces

My nieces have grown up to be wonderful women, wives and mothers – most of whom also juggle work. The other day one of them invited us over her house and she proved, once again, to be a great hostess. Watching them do what they do, I am proud to be their aunt, and to have played a role in their lives. I’m a godmother to a few of them, have at one point or another babysat all of them, as well as tutored some, put others to work, gave them quite a bit of advice, and of course, engaged in arguments with them.

Stepping back and observing their lives, I’m once again reminded how sacred family life really is. In the end, the work we put towards our loved ones does pay off.

I Don’t Speak Your Language, But Let’s Talk!

Today two of my nieces, who are also sisters, each baptized her baby son. After church, we gathered at a lovely restaurant in downtown Rochester. Neither of my nieces’ husbands is of Middle Eastern backgrounds. One of them is originally from Central America. Well, he decided to have a little chat with my mom. Mind you, he does not speak Arabic or Chaldean. My mother does not speak Spanish or English.

They talked about totally different subjects. My mother raved about what a good person her granddaughter is and how much she loves her and he accused my mother of knowing more English than she leads on (probably doesn’t help that his wife, my niece, always felt like my mother is an undercover FBI agent who understands more than she has everyone believe). Yet even though their words hit in various directions, the two enjoyed some nice communication. And believe me when I tell you, it is not easy to get my mother to talk!

Goes to show, one need not know the same language in order to enjoy each other’s company or have a good conversation. One need only have a big heart.

With her grand-daughter's husbands
My mother with my nieces’ husbands

Stories that Hurt Our Hearts

The Mansour Family

A week ago today three children rode a tube behind their father as he towed them with his jet ski on Sylvan Lake. Another man, 56, driving a boat did not see the kids and hit them. The 11 year old boy died shortly afterwards, his six year old sister died the next day, and their 10 year old sister is still in critical condition.

I first heard this story on Monday night, one day late of everyone else. I was washing dishes and talking on the phone with my friend when she asked, “Haven’t you heard what happened to this one Chaldean family yesterday? It’s all over the news!”

I had heard nothing. I’d spent a nice quiet Sunday reading and writing – half the day alone, since my kids were at their cousins’. My friend filled me on the details and ever since then, I and the majority of the Chaldean community – given we are all somehow or another related – cannot get them off our minds. Whether we’re at a gathering, a birthday party, we bring them up, unable to imagine the horror of a nice Sunday afternoon having turned into a nightmare.

A vigil at St. Thomas Church in West Bloomfield was held for them. Over 1200 people showed up to pray. Other vigils were held in other churches, one even in San Diego. The lake, which used to have a marine patrol that was stopped due to budget cuts, will soon reinstate a marine patrol.

I spoke to another friend, told her that my heart keeps aching for this family, that I can’t help but wonder, again and again, why such a tragedy would occur.

She said, “In the Bible, it is written that there’s a time to laugh and a time to cry. There’s a time to live and there’s a time to die.”

She told me a story of when her cousin whom she was very close to had cancer. She prayed for Jesus to save her. Her cousin ended up dying and she asked Jesus, “Why didn’t you save her?”

He responded to her, “I saved all these other people you read about in the Bible, yet are they still here today?”

Death is inevitable, and some things, like the way in which death comes, are just way beyond our grasp. We can only pray that here on earth, God take care of the 10 year old girl, and her mom and dad. And from heaven, the loving and pure energy of the two beautiful children forever fill and guide their parents’ and sister’s hearts.

Rock Climbing –Get me out of Here!

My mom went into the hospital exactly one week ago today. The doctors didn’t find anything wrong with her and she was released three days later. However, the drama associated with her hospitalization lasted a few days longer. What kind of drama? Well, picture one of the Real Housewives episodes. No wonder I love those shows. I can so relate.

I guess the situation was so stressful that everyone began to play the blame game. We pointed fingers, with each sibling accusing the other of doing more/less than her/himself (it was unanimous, in my opinion, that the girls did a hundred times more than the boys). At one point, the conversation got so heated – right there in the hospital room – I thought the Beaumont staff was going to politely kick us out. They didn’t. Probably they’re used to Chaldean Americans yelling when trying to have a diplomatic conversation.

Well, the action did my mom some good. She’s always happy to have her children gather all around, worry and fret over her. Once she’s done with us, she clobbers us with guilt and more guilt. And she’s not even Jewish! Well, technically she is Jewish since her ancestors are from the land of the Chaldeas, the birthplace and home of Prophet Abraham.

Yes, to please my mom is like trying to climb a mountain and never getting to the top. Some days you end up feeling as my daughter did in the video, when she couldn’t get to the top! You feel like screaming, “Get me out of here!”

Mommy and Daughter at Work

Like many of the women in my family, my cousin Amy is very creative.  Her twelve year old daughter has been following in that creative path since she was five or maybe younger. So when my kids and I went to their home yesterday to get a pedicure and a manicure for myself, I found the mommy and daughter team hard at work on yet another project (my cousin does umpteen creative things).

To the backbeat of Arabic music, she and her daughter were making jewelry for a women’s show she is involved in at St. Marino’s coming up on April 9th. Some of their stuff is really unique – such as the custom made rosaries that can be worn as a necklace or placed anywhere, like the car’s rear mirror, which Chaldeans are famous for doing. Each rosary is specialized with an entire family’s individual names. I love that!

As my cousin’s orange winged Amazon, Parker, gets to sit in a cage overlooking the attraction, it’s not difficult for him to announce his needs. Hey, orange winged Amazons have to eat too!

Parker