Lisa Burr ~
It was another simmering-hot Texas day, and the AC was faltering in the family-practice clinic where I worked as a family nurse practitioner. Most of our clients were poor and spoke only Spanish.
My nurse, Eliza, approached, wide-eyed.
"There's a new patient--a woman named Maraby. She seems really angry," she murmured. "She's the color of Dijon mustard, and she's wearing a long, heavy wool cape. She looks like she's nine months pregnant with triplets. There's a man with her, but he's not saying anything."
Gingerly, I entered the exam room. Maraby, a tall woman, sat staring at the floor. Her partner, Darren, stood to one side. When I glanced his way, he anxiously averted his eyes.
Ruth Bavetta ~
One and a half tubes of smörgåskaviar, most
of a jar of blueberry jam, a full jar of lingonberries.
Four sets of blue plaid pajamas--God forbid
I should have gotten him red. Six pairs
of reading glasses, going back
in five-year increments. Hearing-aid
batteries stashed by the lamp.
Three packages of adult diapers.
Our marriage certificate.
The rest of the morphine.
Joanna Sharpless ~
In the living room of the house where I grew up hangs a framed copy of a seventeenth-century map of Pennsylvania. The land is divided into tiny plots, each painstakingly labeled with a family name.
When I was little, I'd stand in front of the map and search for the little squares labeled "Sharples"--the original version of my last name. I'd imagine my distant ancestors, John and Jane Sharples and their seven children, dressed in bonnets and breeches as they sailed across the Atlantic in 1682. As Quakers, they'd purchased land from William Penn and had fled religious persecution in their home country, England.
To a young girl, their immigration story sounded romantic; but as I grew older, I realized that it wasn't. Their life in England must have been unbearable for them to be willing to risk losing everything in order to rebuild their lives in a strange wilderness. Indeed, they paid a steep price: One of their children died on the journey. I also had to consider their role as colonizers, living on land that had once belonged to Native Americans. How should I feel about my family's immigration story?