Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Does Your Story Read?

 There was a time when I thought that my story was one of loss.  Now, I see that my story is a beautiful one of love and life.  As I approached the final chapters of my book, When Life Reaches Out, it was only then that I was better able to understand my beginning.  It became even clearer that no part of my journey has been without purpose.
The circumstances of my birth caused me to be raised by my grandparents on a tiny, independent island in the Caribbean Sea known as Anguilla.  Today, it remains a British territory with queen-appointed representatives.  It is an island of fascinating beginnings with many cultural influences.  In the early 1950’s, my grandmother left her home in search of work and simply to have a better life.  Anguilla, as modest as the lifestyle still is, had been experiencing poor economic times.  My grandmother, was unmarried and had one young daughter who she left in the care of her mother, my great grandmother. She traveled by boat to the island of Curacao (pronounced kyur uh sow), and this is where she met my grandfather.  The island of Curacao is said to have been discovered by Spanish settlers in the 1400’s and was called “Corazon” which is translated in English as the word, “heart.”

This fiery, adventurous Caribbean woman with beautiful, dark velvet skin was also described as a firm, but loving mother.  In addition to raising nine children of her own and being a mother to many others, she worked the ground, growing many of their own food and raising various animals.  At night, she sewed and made garments for other islanders.  I spent the first four and half years of my life in her care and  many of my summers thereafter. 

               My grandfather was a spiritually gifted man with a gentle presence and quiet disposition.  I only remember him as a fisherman.  I recently learned that in earlier times, he had been a Marshal who was able to calmly mediate challenging situations.  People would often respond to his soft, gentle voice.  He had also been born on the island of Anguilla, to an Irish father and a Caribbean mother.  So, it is fantastically remarkable to learn that he met and fell in love with my grandmother on the island that was once known as heart. 

While in Curacao, my grandfather worked at an oil refinery.  My mom recently shared a story of how his multi-race background served him well when there was a racially motivated uprising at the refinery.  Many of the workers were injured, but my grandfather had escaped without a single scratch because the Europeans thought he was one of them and the dark-complected people knew he had a Caribbean mother.

When I first learned about my earliest history, it disturbed me that I had been separated from my mother shortly after my birth.  Then, when my daughter was about the age of four and a half, I began to see how difficult it must have been to leave the only home I had known.  I can now see how my very loving mother made the best decision she could have ever made for me.   I needed to spend my early years with my grandparents.  I see their influence in the person I am today, my grandmother’s love for the earth and her nurturing ways and my grandfather’s gentle presence and desire for peaceful resolutions.  There were also lessons I needed to learn from my mom and my dad, so my time with them was equally as important.

Take notice of how your world has unfolded. Recognize the significance of your heritage and early relationships.  How do you tell your story?

Love to everyone,

Kathleen O'Malley, DC


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