Monday, June 26, 2006

How Do You Say "Family" in Russia?

I mentioned in my last blog that over this past weekend, my family got together to celebrate my parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary. They are two love-birds, probably moreso today than they were even ten years ago.

Anyhow, with the exception of one of my five brothers, everyone made it. For the record, that was a total of four brothers and their wives, one sister and her husband, each of the children from those respective children, for a grand total of thirteen grandchildren, plus a newcomer to the family: Dan.

Dan is a newcomer because just a few months ago, my sister and brother-in-law adopted him from Russia. He's ten years old. And so new to America, in fact, that it was a bit difficult to communicate with him. While he is absorbing English at an amazing rate, as children seem to be able to do, he still couldn't find the right words for much of the time, nor could he fully understand what we were saying. When my sister was trying to explain who, in this family, was an aunt, an uncle, and a cousin, he seemed thoroughly perplexed. It took some doing, but we finally got him to understand the aunt and uncle part...but forget about "cousin".

What was fascinating to me was how Dan, in some ways, parallels the main character in my book. In Mindburst, Alex longs to know her family. She wants nothing more than to hold her parents in her arms. She spent her whole life locked away in an asylum for kids like herself.

Dan also spent most of his life longing for parents. Of course, Dan doesn't have any mental powers (at least, none that we're aware of!), but that longing for someone to call "Papa" and "Mama" was there. So much so, in fact, that almost from day one, Dan took to calling my sister and brother-in-law these affectionate names.

It takes a lot of courage, on his part. He came from a small village where technology as we know it was virtually non-existent. Even the idea of a freeway overpass was new to him. Yet, he travelled literally around the world to discover a whole new life, to become part of, for the first time, a family.

I'm relatively untraveled. Oh, I've visited around thirty-five of the fifty states, and I've even been into Canada, but I can't say I've ever truly been somewhere foreign. About the closest was the time I stood in line for Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror behind a group of young adults from, I believe, Peru. Or Venezuela. I can't rememer for sure. But they hardly spoke a lick of English, and I spoke just a tad over a lick of Spanish. So, in the half-hour we were in line together, we managed to communicate that I was from Michigan, which was north of Florida. That's about it.

Thing is, even that little bit was mentally exhausting. So to come to a new country with a new language where no one speaks your native tongue deserves a round of applause, I think. Anyhow, I'm proud to say Dan is a part of our family now. It's a shame that he lives on the other side of the country, though. We won't get to see him much.

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