Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A Hope and A Prayer

 I was invited, by Lesley, of Merlin's Garden, to participate in the Hope Relay ~ Below is a 'hope' that is near and dear to my heart. I'm passing the HOPE BATON to Deb, Lona, Rose and Marguerite.

2 Fave Annuals! Heavenly Blue Morning Glories and Mexican Sunflowers
 Back in 2002, I spotted the fixer upper home I currently live in, grimaced at the sight of it, quickly turned my back on the house itself, and salivated over it's mountain view. Sold. A big house 'cause I had big plans.

I promptly split the home in half, turning the street level portion of this house into a 3 bedroom apartment. There are lots of ways to get ahead in the world and one of the most delightful revelations (for me) came with the knowledge that quite a few people prefer to rent vs. own. Apparently, home ownership is a lot of responsibility. So, why not let some of those renters pay for my mortgage?
Ornamental Sweet Peas ~ another favorite annual.
Up went the 'For Rent' sign and minutes later came a knock on the door. A Mexican family interested in renting the apartment. Truth be told, I didn't want them in my house because of a slight, prejudicial feeling, born of ignorance, based on broad generalizations, that have long since died.

They were very shy. The nicest couple I'd ever met. It took just a moment to see myself in them. To see that they were acting this way, preparing for rejection, prejudice and meanness, just like I did when I arrived in this town, hoping to start a new life.

You see, if you get right down to it, we're all minorities in one way, or another.

This could bore you to tears but it's got me pretty excited. The 1st squirrel ever to live on my property.
I was a Single Mom. Recruited out to Utah for a high buck job and quite delighted with my new, hefty salary. Right up until I started searching for a house to rent ~ for myself and my daughter ~ and was blindsided by this: "You're not married?" All three potential landlords asked. The worst one had the audacity to say: "Oh, I'm not gonna get into this. That's just a problem waiting to happen. Drunk boyfriends busting up the place..."

I'll never forget that. They probably won't either. Seeing as how I sued them.

That's the encounter that changed me. For better, or worse. Made me think long and hard about that old adage: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. And, how asinine that saying really is.

Words cut like a knife. They tear at the inner fabric of your being, leaving deep scars that never fully heal.

Big, big Sandhill Cranes hang out by the garage every afternoon. They like to terrorize my dog...
I always wondered why 'My Mexicans' stayed so long. Ten years in the same apartment? Surely they must be sick of me by now. Clearly they could afford a nicer place. Or, leave altogether. Weary of the oppressive hatred in this hypocritical town.

One day wonders: Mexican Shellflowers (a very tender annual) bloom, then whither, in 24 hours.
And then, last autumn, a minor incident happened that made it all come clear: I offer them something that is strangely hard to come by: Respect.

The kids knocked on my door, crying. Mom was with them, crying, too. Her husband was out of town. They'd been to the elementary school, re-enrolling for classes, at the same school these 2 cute kids had attended for the last 5 years. I knew this was happening because the kids had been chattering about it for weeks. Super excited to be heading back to school. But, when they got there, they'd been turned away, sent home to gather all sorts of paperwork to 'prove' they should be allowed to attend this school. The school where every teacher already knew their names. 

Necessary? I'm not so sure. So, I took them back to the school to see for myself. And, me being white and all, nobody looked at the paperwork they had previously demanded. Not even the principal when I refused to leave until I met with him.

He told me that everything was in order and that there was nothing more for us to discuss. "Oh, there is one more thing," I said.

"I'd like to know how many white kids had to jump through this hoop."

It's a jungle out here! Moppy head Bee Balm, Helianthus and Catmint.
So, we fixed the problem. But, we didn't fix the hurt. Of being singled out. Diminished in front of their peers.

My HOPE is that, somehow, some way, we all figure out how to lighten up. To live and let live. To stop blaming all the ills of the world on people who simply want to better themselves and will put up with all kinds of abuse on their quest to accomplish just that.


And, I apologize for a such a long and dreary post. But, if you took the time to read this, perhaps you gleaned a little something from it. Because this is a country filled with minorities of one sort, or another. We can add the term 'Loser' to the title Single Mom. We can accuse gays of destroying family values, when all they really want to do is marry the one they love. We can blame immigrants for ruining America, when in reality they are the only people who still believe in the American Dream.

And, when it comes to changing these archaic notions? We can all do nothing equally well.

To meet the originator of Hope 2012, please click here. To read Lesley's great perspective on Hope in the Garden, click here.


Liz said...

This is a great reminder! Utah is very one sided, its easy to get a little prejudiced without thinking. But it is still just mean!

Melospiza said...

This post made my heart hurt. Mostly in a good way, because it seems like it turned out okay, but still.

Also, I loved those pics of the cranes. Who knew they'd be such toughs?

A Garden of Threads said...

Wonderful post Kate and I could not agree more. Bravo for saying it.

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

Blessed was the day your Mexican family knocked on your door. This is a big world and there is room for everyone. Good for you. Valerie

Aaron Gardener said...

Great post. I agree with everything you wrote.

But I have to admit that mostly I kept reading just to see how you got the Mexican sunflower to grow. I know they're supposed to be easy, but none of my seeds germinated! Maybe I had a bad batch... :(

Well, I guess it's small potatoes compared to the human rights type issues you raised, but still, I'm a gardener, there's so much crappy stuff going on out there in the world that I prefer sometimes just to keep my head down and keep trying to grow things, adding a little beauty one seed at a time.

But you're doing that AND making a difference in the world outside the garden gates. And so - kudos!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Thanks, All ~
It's an interesting switch to blog about something serious for a change.

Join the club, Aaron ~ I had a devil of time getting those seeds to sprout, as well. This batch was my third attempt. Though, definitely worth the wait. :)

sheds in Victoria said...

This is indeed a beautiful post. I am really glad to read such. Thanks!

Janie said...

How sad about the Mexican kids being turned away from school and embarassed in front of everyone. I'm so glad you were there to stand up for them. Great, thought provoking post.