Let It Go

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I grew up in Houston, Texas in the south. As a child I remember hearing Dixie being played and sung now and again. When I was young I actually believed that I had descended from Confederate Rebels and it was only later that I found out how wrong I had been. Of course my mom’s ancestors were busy chafing under the rule of Hungarians while the Civil War raged here. It was from my father’s side that I assumed that I had come from bonafide Johnny Reb stock. Imagine my shock, and maybe even a bit of relief, when my genealogical searches revealed that my great grandfather, John William Seth Smith, was a Lieutenant in the Kentucky Volunteers and that he fought for the Union. In fact, he participated in a number of crucial battles and was around to bury the dead at Shiloh. It ends up that the inclement weather and horror of that event badly affected his health in later years and after the war he seemed rather intent on putting his days of fighting behind him. I suppose that those of us who are still arguing over the aftermath of that terrible conflict might be wise to follow his lead.

I’ve always had a fascination for history and so I have read a number of biographies and historical texts. Robert E. Lee was someone about whom I wanted to know more. In so many ways he was an enigma. He graduated from West Point and for a time was one of the most highly respected generals in the Army of the United States. He sometimes questioned the morality of slavery, but nonetheless held the odd belief that it served a purpose in helping the enslaved humans to learn the necessary skills to be full fledged members of society. He loved his country but felt a higher allegiance to his state. He saw secession as treason, but agreed to join the Confederate cause nonetheless. In other words he was a highly conflicted man who wanted to be honorable but often demonstrated profound confusion about how one should live. In the end he actually felt that the long war should never have happened, and he spent much of his later years attempting to free his soul from guilt. 

The aftermath of most wars becomes a time for trying and punishing those guilty of crimes or treason, while the rest of the population goes on to live ordinary and quiet lives like my grandfather. The days after the Civil War were different. Both Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant felt that no purpose would be served in meting out vengeance against their fellow countrymen who had gone astray. There were no trials in which Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders were held accountable or punished. Instead they were allowed to live with only their own self reflection to determine the final chronicle of what they had done. For Robert E. Lee it was a bitter pill to ruminate on the utter folly of the war and its impact on the entire country. He must have asked himself time and again why he had gone against his own beliefs that secession would be a fools errand.

Time has a way of glossing over the ugly realities of history. As the years passed people from the south often found ways to excuse the actions of their ancestors who had believed that destroying the country was actually the only way to deal with political conflicts. They saw the war as being noble and courageous, but the truth is that it was a horror that need never have happened. To celebrate those who led their fellowmen into the very jaws of hell seems to be a rather ridiculous idea, and yet that is what happened in cities and towns all across the south where monuments and statues were erected to honor men who in many ways had been fools. Perhaps it was a way of ignoring the truth of how incredibly wrong the entire conflict had been.

It would be one thing to mourn the lost souls who died in those terrible battles that pitted American brother against American brother, but it is quite another to glorify those who had took the common people so far astray. It would be akin to building monuments in honor of Adolf Hitler all over Germany. We would surely see the inappropriateness of such memorials, but somehow we fail to realize how ludicrous it is to honor men who literally performed treasonous acts against the United States when they chose to go to war against the government. Perhaps Robert E. Lee said it best. “I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

We have harbored the feelings of separation and divisiveness far too long. Walking through the Shiloh battlefield I felt no glory, but only a deep sadness that people were unable to find ways to settle their differences through any means other than fighting and killing. There is no magnificence at Gettysburg, only despair that man’s anger overwhelmed his ability to find common solutions. War is always hell. Slavery was wrong. We all know in our hearts that these are truths. Why then do we continue to quibble over hunks of stone and metal that remind us of a past that was horrific by anyone’s standards? We can remember all of those who lost their lives with compassion, but we need not attempt to honor those who were responsible for the carnage. Taking down the troublesome statues does not erase the history, for we can never forget how terrible it was. Instead it focuses on understanding and a willingness to move on and let go of feelings that seem to have festered long after they should have been set aside.

I suspect that if Robert E. Lee were to hear of the battles that now ensue over the appropriateness of monuments to in his honor he would remind us of his own words and respectfully ask us to take the monoliths down. We should do so not out of a sense of political correctness, but because it is time for healing that will never fully happen until we are willing to admit to the wrongness of that terrible chapter of our history. We can place those images on battlefields or inside museums where the story of that time might be told, but it is no longer necessary to glorify the mistakes of our past. We must move ever forward and remember the words of another contemporary of Robert E. Lee.

As the war neared its end and President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address his mood was melancholy and compassionate. He pointed to the horrific waste of the war but also its necessity in bringing justice to our land. Still he wanted all of us to come together as brothers “with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have born the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and all nations.”

This is our challenge as the American people. In the name of all 600,000 men who lost their lives as well as those who were forever altered, it is time for us to heed the words of our great president who himself became a martyr to his noble dedication to the proposition that all men are created equal. It is far past time to stop the fighting and to let it go.

Remembering A Wonderful Life

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The classic movie It’s A Wonderful Life considers the difference that one individual might make in the world. The premise is that if the hero had never lived everything in his town would have turned out differently. It demonstrated that while each of us only touch a limited number of lives, our impact is nonetheless profound.

I was thinking about this when the new RAISE immigration plan was announced. I wondered what might have happened if such a law had been in effect when my grandfather first wanted to come to the United States from Austria Hungary. He had only minimal education and no real skills beyond a willingness to do the most detestable of jobs. His English was minimal. He came with little more than the clothes on his back and did the kind of manual labor that is brutal and dirty. He was frugal and saved money until he was able to send for my grandmother. She had even less to offer our great country than he did. She spoke no English and her education was virtually nonexistent. Once she had arrived she worked as a cook, a cleaning lady and at a bakery until she began to have children and then she rarely left her home again. My grandfather eventually settled on a job at a meat packing plant. He cleaned carcasses and equipment, hardly a grand career but certainly a noble way to provide for his family. From his meager salary he built a tiny house for which he paid cash and there he raised eight children.

According to the point system of the RAISE plan Grandpa would hardly have been a candidate for immigration. There was little to indicate that he would be of great economic use to the United States. I am rather certain that he would have been denied entry to our nation. What a loss that would ultimately have been.

All four of my grandfather’s sons served proudly in the military during World War II. During their lifetimes they worked hard at their jobs, rarely missing even one day of work. Two of them were employed by the United States Postal Service and two worked for Houston Lighting and Power. His daughters held a variety of positions that included teaching, doing research for a high blood pressure study, serving the United States Postal Service and working at a Naval Station. Their children, my grandfather’s grandchildren, were even more remarkable. Among them were accountants, teachers, managers, businesspersons, firefighters, and engineers. In fact my brother coauthored the program for the navigational system of the International Space Station. I wonder who would have done that if my grandfather had never come here?

It’s difficult to imagine how different the lives of countless individuals might have been had my grandfather never been granted permission to immigrate to the United States simply because his education was lacking, his skills were so basic and his English was wanting. On the surface he most certainly may have appeared to be a risk, and yet he was a proud American who encouraged his children to always work hard and be their very best. When many citizens were struggling to survive during the Great Depression he kept his family safe in a home that he had build one section at a time, paying for each addition as he went. He was frugal and refused to even accept even charitable gifts, insisting that he wanted to earn whatever he had. He was exactly the kind of American that has made this country great, but with a law like RAISE he might never have stepped on our shores.

With each successive generation his successors have become ever more important contributors to American society. There are medical doctors and those with PhD’s in public health and mathematics. There are teachers, accountants, nurses, electricians, business people, builders, athletes, ministers and scientists. The talent pool that has come from him has widened and the future of his great great grandchildren appears to be even brighter. His was the American dream and it was fulfilled beyond even his own expectations. Certainly it has made a difference to the country in a measurable way, but what if he had never been allowed to come?

My grandfather’s story is not that unusual. It has been repeated many times over in the history of our nation. Individuals who came with little or nothing to recommend them went on to build families whose impact was monumental. If we were to take away all of their contributions how different would our land be? How can we ever know who among us will be the teacher that we need, the inventor who will make our lives better, the leader who will find solutions to our biggest problems? Each of us traces our ancestry back to some distant place and in most cases the person who first ventured here was desperate to find a better way of life, but did not appear to be outstanding on the face of things. How can we use a point system to determine which people will ultimately have the best impact on our land?

I have taught thousands of immigrant children. Many of their parents spoke no English, but they were good people who did their share of work, often the dirtiest and least desirable. Like my grandfather they wanted a better life for their children and sacrificed greatly to make it happen, many times by working multiple jobs. Among my students from such families are college professors, medical doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, police officers, soldiers, fire fighters, mechanics, builders, accountants, biologists, chemists, mathematicians, physicists, psychologists, public health administrators, computer programmers, public administrators, school principals, counselors, lawyers and even politicians. In a single generation they have fulfilled the hopes of their parents and are actively contributing to society in thousands of ways. They are the true face of immigration, not the hopeless gang members and welfare takers that fear mongers sometimes portray them to be. 

I respectfully submit that we should carefully consider what we might be missing if we restrict immigration to our country as outlined in the RAISE bill. Skimming what appears to be the cream of the crop from various foreign nations may or may not be the answer to a better economy. Sometimes the desire that comes from someone desperate to improve his/her condition cannot be measured by a rubric, just as the worth of my grandfather might have been considered rather low. What made him a good candidate for consideration was the “ganas” burning inside his belly. All he needed was an opportunity to demonstrate just how valuable he truly was. Thankfully he was given that gift and what a difference it has made to the United States.

We certainly want the best for our nation but we need to consider the consequences of limiting ourselves to rubrics that fail to recognize the intangible values that make truly good citizens like my grandfather and his descendants. The issue is far too complex to delineate with numbers. Human beings will surprise us again and again. We need to be open to thinking outside of the box, because it is beyond the confines of our imaginations that the best things happen. Let’s keep our lives wonderful and welcome the tired and the beleaguered. From them may come just the people that we have been waiting for.

The Lights

2There are so many houses, so many people. I pass them as I go about my daily routines. I see them as I travel from one town to another. Some are so lovely and inviting, others not so much. I wonder who inhabits them and try to imagine what life is like for them. Of course I will never really know the truth of what goes on inside those walls. Experience has taught me that appearances do not always define reality, and yet I find myself imagining what is happening in those places over and over again.

We are a world of millions and millions of people. We have hearts and brains and blood coursing through our veins. We need food and water and love to thrive. We are so much alike, and yet we have our differences. What we see and hear in our homes influences us for the good or the bad. From the time that we are children we either feel safe and secure or frightened and bewildered. Not all homes are castles and not all castles are homes.

I remember a time when a woman living in River Oaks shot and killed her well known and renowned husband. Few who were familiar with the couple had any idea that she was living in a state of fear from the continuous abuse that she was enduring at his hands. Instead her life appeared to be ideal, the kind of existence that most of us dream of experiencing. It was shocking to learn the dark details of the happenings inside what should have been a haven. Even her closest friends were appalled when they heard her testimony at trial. I remember thinking that I might have been envious of her lifestyle of the rich and famous had she not ultimately shed light on the truth with her act of desperation.

I often ponder a visit to a woman that my grandmother Minnie wanted me to meet when I was only six years old. As we drove to the lady’s house Grandma did her best to prepare me for what I might encounter. Her words were insufficient in describing the abject poverty in which the woman lived. The house was what might politely be called a hovel. It literally appeared to be falling down around the family that resided within. The lady herself had the physical appearance of someone worn down by life’s continuous challenges, and yet when she smiled she had the face of a beautiful angel. She was transformed as she spoke so sweetly of her wonderful children and the love that she shared with them was apparent as she proudly introduced each of them and bragged on their abilities. After spending an afternoon with her I realized that she was a truly happy, optimistic and faith filled woman in spite of her circumstances, and my grandmother later told me that she thought that her friend was one of the grandest people that she had ever known.

We each approach the circumstances of our lives just a bit differently. So often our possessions or wealth have little bearing on how we will react to our daily trials and blessings. For some there is never enough, and so they stew in discontent regardless of how lucky they have been. For others little more is necessary to bring a sense of satisfaction than seeing the dawn of a new day. The happiest people are not those who pursue things, but those who embrace the simple act of living with an open and generous heart. It is not the dinner at a wonderful restaurant that brings us the most joy, but the sharing of that moment with people for whom we care. The food that sustains us best is love.

We are never in complete control of our lives. Things happen to us with or without our consent. A loved one dies. A flood destroys our worldly goods. We receive a devastating medical diagnosis. Someone we thought was a friend betrays us. Such things happen inevitably to everyone. It is in how we choose to address our realities that we become the true masters of our destinies. We each have the power to rise above the horrors that stalk us just as my grandmother’s friend seemed to have done.

We don’t have to be victims of circumstance wallowing in self pity. We can cry and rage just enough to vent the poisonous feelings that haunt us when things get bad. It is only natural to do so, but eventually we must show the strength that resides inside each and every one of us. It can be terrifying and lonely to do so, but in the end those who do truly find the happiness and contentment that we all seek. The light beaming from their homes comes not from incandescent bulbs but from the joy that resides in their souls.

Grit, determination, inventiveness, generosity, caring…these are characteristics that make a house a home for everyone who lives inside. When we see our role models striving day after day to make love the center of our personal universes we in turn learn how to deal positively with all of the difficulties that will most certainly befall us. When we only experience despair and hatefulness we often begin to emulate the traits of hopelessness that drive us into constant cycles of depression and loneliness. If we are fortunate we will encounter the hand up that we need to break the chains that have imprisoned us in our own minds. Luckily there are teachers, ministers and friends who often teach us how to be our better selves.

No life is ever a complete loss. Until the last breath is drawn everyone has the possibility of changing for the better. Jesus Himself taught us this wonderful truth as He was dying on the cross when the thief begged for and received God’s forgiveness.

I am one of the fortunate ones, but I have seen children enduring the ugly effects of tragically violent and loveless homes. I know from working with them that they can be saved, and I have time and again witnessed incredibly giving souls reaching out to the psychologically wounded and making a profound difference. I am always humbled when I witness such selfless acts of love, and I think of how wonderful it will be to have one more home glowing with the lights of optimism and hope simply because someone cared.

Just as my grandmother Minnie most likely expected I was changed by my encounter with her neighbor. It taught me not to judge a book by its cover and how to value the character of a person over possessions. I still treasure the memory of sitting next to Grandma after our visit and hearing the wisdom in her voice as she coached me on life. I suppose that she knew that there were many challenges ahead of me and she wanted me to realize that I would be able to endure almost anything as long as I remembered to draw on the gifts that reside in each of our beings. Now as I look back on the battles that I have won and even those that I have lost I think of the people who stood resolutely by my side and realize how wealthy I have been.

Be that life changing person for someone. Keep the lights of happiness burning brightly in as many homes as possible.

True Love

true-love_2767240He and his friend were giddy in an anticipation of their inside joke. It was a sibling setup, the kind of thing that big brothers sometime do to their little sisters for a laugh. It was supposed to just be all in good fun. He had agreed to go along with the impish brother’s plan to embarrass his unwitting sister, but he was unprepared for what would actually happen.

The two men sat at a table eating the dinner special. Just as agreed he demanded to speak with the cook, his coconspirator’s target. They winked at each other in anticipation of her reaction, stifling their amusement until the preplanned time. She seemed to suddenly appear, a tiny little thing with a puzzled look meekly inquiring, “May I help you sir?”

His chest heaved. His throat constricted. He had not expected to be so taken with her. Suddenly this was no longer a joke. He had never before been so utterly thunderstruck by another human being. His brain began whirring as he knew that he had to abandon the original plan. He took a deep breath and smiled at her. “I wanted to know who made this delicious food. I wanted to tell you to be prepared, because I am going to marry you one day.” 

She smiled and quickly glanced at her confused brother with the kind of knowing look that siblings give one another. It was a sweet moment, and little could she have known that the gentleman who had so complimented her would indeed one day be her husband.

Theirs would be a true love story. He called her his “buddy” and they not only shared the gift of parenting two children but also enjoyed just being together. He showered her with affection and she made him feel more of a man than he felt that he really was. They laughed their way through life’s ups and downs, sharing dreams and hard work and disappointments. They were a team as perfect as ever there was and then came the diagnosis.

She was very sick. The cancer had spread throughout her body. They dismissed her from the hospital and sent her home to die. He was by her side day and night, rarely leaving for more than a few minutes. He became her nurse, caring for her medical needs and soothing her when the pain became almost unbearable. He lay beside her running his hands through her hair and caressing her fevered cheek. He reminded her of how much he had always loved her. He silently prayed for a miracle that would never come.

He was bereft when she died. He never quit talking about her even as the years stretched from one to ten to twenty. His eyes would light up when he told stories of their time together. She was still the love of his life and never a day went by that he did not miss her. He kept her photograph on his bedside table. She was the first thing that he saw each morning and the last thing before he fell asleep each night.

Eventually he too became ill. Not even surgery helped. He slowly sank into a state of confusion that we thought had been brought on by the drugs designed to ease his pain. He told us that she had come to visit him and asked if we had seen her. He seemed happier than he had been in a very long time, and then only a few days later he died.

Love is a beautiful thing, and I am a sucker for stories and movies about romance whether they are tragic or comic. I suspect that I am not alone in that regard. The world has been savoring literature from Romeo and Juliet to Pride and Prejudice for centuries. Mostly the characters of such efforts are young and beautiful. Their’s is love borne out of the passions of youth. Rarely do we see the chronicles of older couples, and yet in so many ways those tales are far more moving. It is in the twilight years that the true ardor of a coupling often becomes the most apparent. Thus it was with my grandparents, and this was their story, one that resonates again and again. They had created a bond with one another that was profound.

Such moving partnerships tend to be quiet and seemingly ordinary and yet each of us has witnessed such unwavering love between people that we have known. These kinds of relationships are selfless and spiritual. They are examples of exactly how young couples should strive to be with one another. Such couples survive all of the challenges that real life throws at them because their partnerships are not shallow, but rather based on a deep and abiding connection between two souls that grows as the two share milestone after milestone.

Instead of watching silly reality shows about superficial people who look for love in all the wrong places we should ask the true survivors to share their experiences. We need to hear from the couple that makes the time to laugh and celebrate regularly with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We would be wise to hear from the caring and devoted wife whose husband has been sidelined by ill health. How nice it would be to realize that love ultimately has little to do with appearance or status and that contentment may be had just sitting together in a backyard.

We all too often paint a very misleading picture of love and marriage for our young. They harbor expectations but rarely think of their own obligations. They forget the importance of their own kindness and patience. They don’t understand the power of being someone’s “buddy.” True soulmates walk with one another through rain, fire and glory. They grow together with all that such an idea implies.

I worry a bit about our world. The kinds of connections that were so visible between my grandmother and grandfather are no longer happening as frequently as they once did. So many are afraid to become committed to another. We have far too many broken and toxic relationships, and I wonder how our young will learn how to truly love as I did from my grandparents. It is in the role models that we see and the stories that we share that we form our own ideas of how to behave with someone that we love. Sadly of late we tend to be focused on the underbelly of marriage rather than the most beautiful examples of how it should be.

If we truly want to be the change that we wish to see then it is up to each of us to find the most incredible couples that we know and introduce their stories to the world. It is time that we once again see just how extraordinary love can be.

An Unexpected Journey

coffee-plantIt was late on a Friday night, just after a Houston Astros baseball game and fireworks display. The crowd was a bit down because the hometown team had lost. Everyone was anxious to get home, and Houston’s congested streets weren’t cooperating. After waiting for what seemed to be forever we turned out of our parking garage needing to navigate instantly across four lanes of wall to wall cars. It became apparent soon enough that such a maneuver wasn’t going to happen. We were stuck and had to go in a direction that was the exact opposite of what we needed. Luckily I knew exactly what to do because the baseball park is located in the eastern end of downtown Houston, an area that I have known for all of my life.

My grandmother once lived only minutes away from where we were in a tiny house just off of Navigation. I had traversed these streets in the backseat of my mother’s car hundreds of times as she regaled me with the stories of her young life and the places that had been so much a part of her history. For most of my childhood this area had been rundown and a bit foreboding. There were often women of the night walking the littered streets or drunken men sipping brew out of bottles hidden in brown paper bags. The old train station was still there back then and Mama often boasted that she had taken a trip all the way to San Diego to visit a friend just after she graduated from high school. That had seemed a rather bold and daring thing to do, and I was proud of my mom’s adventurous spirit. I loved hearing about her youth and the history of east Houston where she had lived with her seven brothers and sisters. It had always been difficult for me to envision what that section of town had actually once been like because it seemed so abandoned and dreary by the time that I was going there.

Today Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, stands where the train station once dominated the area. In 1912, My grandfather rented a room in a long gone boarding house not far from the stadium before my grandmother arrived from Slovakia. Eventually he purchased a small parcel of land and built a home for his family just to the east of downtown. He had a variety of jobs before settling down at the Houston Packing Company located on Navigation making his commute from home a short one. A service station now stands where there were once pens filled with livestock waiting to be slaughtered.

On the night when we were forced by the traffic to head in the direction of my family’s old homestead I assured my husband that I knew exactly where I was going. Soon enough I was overcome with joy as the aroma of roasting coffee beans filled my nostrils. For the entirety of my childhood I had inhaled that delicious smell on Friday nights when we routinely went to visit my grandmother. It was always so lovely.

The whiff of coffee literally transported me back to a time when I ran and played with my cousins while our parents played penny ante poker as though they were in a Las Vegas competition vying for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In my mind’s eye I could once again see my grandmother padding across the worn wooden floors of her home in her bare feet carrying enameled cups of steaming hot coffee in her hands to offer her guests, including us children. She always smiled beatifically as she offered the brew filled with heaping mounds of sugar and milk. I thought of her saintly face and that sweet smile of satisfaction that she flashed when we sipped on the liquid without complaint. She always kept a big pot of the weak honey colored coffee on her stove, ready for any guests who arrived.

Grandma was ever a loving and generous hostess, and to me she was so beautiful with her blue eyes and her hair arranged in a long black pigtail that trailed down her back. She was not quite five feet tall and as round as Mrs. Santa Claus. She wore faded cotton dresses that she washed by hand and hung out to dry on a clothesline just outside of her back door. The only modern appliances that she owned were her refrigerator, a radio, a record player and a television which she never really watched. The T.V. was there mainly for entertaining two of her sons who still lived with her. She had been born in the nineteenth century and she remained very much a representative of a pre-modern era. Hers was a very simple life. She asked for little and used even less than she was given.

I never got to talk with my grandmother. She did not speak English and I did not speak Slovak. We communicated with facial expressions and hand signals. She called everyone either “pretty boy” or “pretty girl.” It was calming being with her, but I always wondered what she was thinking and what her own history had been. It would have been nice to know how she met my grandfather and what gave her the courage to follow him all the way to a new country, far away from her family and friends. According to one of my aunts she had once spoken enough English to work outside of the home but as her children were born she became more and more tied to her home and lost her ability to speak the words that were foreign to her. Oddly enough most of her children knew only enough Slovak to have the most basic interactions with her. My grandfather had insisted that they speak only English even at home so that they would be fully assimilated into American culture. Perhaps because of his rule not a single one of them had even a slight accent and few would realize that they had grown up with a mother who was unable to speak their tongue.

My husband and I relived my childhood days as we drove through the east Houston streets. I retold my history as we drove along. I gleefully pointed out Eastwood Park where my mother had once danced to the cheers of friends who admired her fancy footwork. I pointed out the building where we had often purchased groceries at Weingarten’s and the spot where we stopped for ice cream on the way home from our Friday night visits. We meandered over to Harrisburg where the new Metro line runs. There I witnessed gentrification efforts inside what had once been little shops where my mother purchased my school shoes and dresses for Sunday church. The Sears store where I first sat on Santa’s lap is gone, replaced by a gaudy strip mall without the elegance of the old department store. We flew past Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and I pointed to a venerable old structure that had at one time been a hospital. So much had changed and yet I felt that I was in familiar territory.

Our journey through my past was a serendipitous little gift for a brief moment in time. It cheered me to return to a place where I had not been for such a long time. My memories of being there will always be so pleasant and filled with so much love and belonging. My grandmother’s house is still is still there, crowded by businesses and industries that make it seem out of place. The new owners have cared for it, preserving its uniqueness. I think they would be quite surprised by the stories they would hear if those walls could talk. I wish that I might share with them how special it always was. Perhaps they already know.