Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Misplaced Nostalgia

Photo: Ileana Johnson May 2016
Lately I’ve been nostalgic about my birth country, about Europe, wondering what would be like to live there again. Perhaps my nostalgia is surfacing because I am fast approaching old age and the ball of yarn called life is getting smaller and smaller.

Maybe I have misplaced nostalgia because my adopted country is in such turmoil and nothing seems to redress what people are complaining about. Life goes on, the sun comes up every day, the routine we take for granted continues, children must be fed and taken to school, people go to work, football season started again, and the masses are not restless as long as the welfare checks come in on time and the dependency faucet flows, tummies are full, the gas tank is topped, and illusory abundance looms like a Potemkin village.

I know, I can never go back home again because home is no longer there, but I still want to from time to time. Life has moved on and, I found out quite painfully, I am now a stranger in my own land. The something I was looking for, what the French term, “je ne sais quoi,” is no longer there. Many relatives I grew up with are now residing in the cemetery, others are as old as I am, with elderly people problems, bad socialized medicine and care, and some simply don’t care if I exist. But then most people’s relatives, far removed or close ones, could not care less if others lived or died. We are but a blip on the screen of life.

Four trips to my hometown and I have not yet been allowed to erect a marble cross on my Dad’s grave. His burial plot is marked by a simple wooden cross painted antique blue, with lettering long erased by the inclement weather and the sun. It’s not that I cannot afford to pay for a better cross, unlike years ago when I was financially broke, living on minimum wage.

I have gone as far as ordering a marble cross, paying for it, and hiring a priest to bless its installation. The most painful part was choosing what words to put on the cross that best represented my Dad’s life. I decided on his name, his birthdate, his death, and the phrase, “The best father who gave me life and let me fly far away because he loved me.” But that did not really tell the story of his life, the sacrifice he made at such an early age, he was 61 years young.

As the self-appointed remaining patriarch, Dad’s only living younger brother objected to Dad’s cross. Each time there was a different reason. He wanted a bribe because I was a “rich” American ripe for fleecing.  He said no during another trip because it would disturb my grandparents’ grave nearby, somehow the extra marble weight would be toxic and disturb their eternity slumber. On the third visit, he said, it would offend his wife who was buried in the same family plot even though she was family by marriage. And, the most unreasonable objection was that I did not help his pregnant daughter find a job in America and did not give her a place to live, rent free, in my house. Had she heard of anchor babies, she could have become a life-long ward of the government like everybody else born in a poor country who manages to cross the border illegally in the last months of pregnancy.

So I decided to erect a memorial here, in this country, where my Dad never had a chance to visit because his life was cut short by the very people who were supposed to give him a visa but refused.

It was futile to explain to his brother that we have 94 million Americans out of work, blue collar jobs are scarce, and I don’t personally employ anybody, I am just a retired teacher. To him, and to the rest of the world, America is still the land of plenty, of filthy-rich people; money grows on trees if you fertilize them with enough B.S., and welfare flows like milk and honey. 

There is a reason why illegals and refugees are brought here, we are told, they do jobs Americans don’t want to do and take whatever wages, without complaining. As our president said, “Americans are lazy.” Then these hard-working illegals send their paychecks to Mexico or to their countries of origin, while they live on welfare. America is a great country! Did anyone ask him, how it became the envy of the world if Americans were so lazy?

On the other hand, he may be right, I did see lazy locals in the morning on my way to work, sitting on their porches, laughing and enjoying themselves, drinking beer, while I was looking at my watch nervously to make sure I would be on time for my 8 a.m. classes.

Illegal immigrants who are often unskilled, illiterate, and on welfare, fare better medically than our own veterans do. They even get translators in hospitals for free and gender reassignment surgery. What a deal! At the same time, educated legal immigrants who want the opportunity to better themselves professionally in the United States are rejected when applying for visas because they happen to be the wrong nationality, religion, skin color, or we ran out of H1B visas. Why bring in immigrants who can contribute to the greatness of this country when we can bring the dregs of third world society to take our country down to size?

Progressives have been telling us that it’s high time to redistribute our wealth to the rest of the world, we’ve been well off for far too long, we owe the rest of the world their turn. If our children and grandchildren will live much worse than we, their parents, so be it, it is social justice to impoverish ourselves while supporting large families from countries that hate our guts and wish our destruction.  

As the most successful country in the world, we are no longer desirable. Hillary Clinton told the world half of Americans are a “basket of deplorables.” Academia keeps telling us, we are evil, primitive cultures are noble and good, and we should learn from them by serving their needs, by allowing them to rule over us with help from United Nations tin pot dictators.

The other half of Americans blindly look up to Democrats because they think they are wise; they’ve been telling us for a long time that we should emulate Cuba and Venezuela’s failed socialist/communist regimes or Europe’s failed multiculturalism.

Europeans seem so bucolic from afar, so much greener over the fence, healthy, and content riding their bicycles everywhere. Who wants to burn $10/gallon gas and choke Mother Nature to death when they can travel in style by trains that run on electricity generated by windmills?

The problem I see is that even my native country is turning into a basket case of European Union totalitarianism by technocrats. According to the SüdDeutsche Zeitung, France and Germany are preparing to synchronize plans for a joint European army.

Male Muslim refugees of military age are flooding everywhere, even beautiful Venice and Milan. One such refugee, screaming Allahu Akbar and making death threats to passengers for two hours, was deported from the U.K. to Venice. Why Venice, the historical jewel of the Adriatic, the open air museum of our western civilization? Italians have spent billions trying to prevent the sinking of its archeological treasures. Why bring the enemy inside?

I was wondering why so many Muslims were taking photos of Catholic churches around Venice and Milan on a recent trip. I saw women in burkas taking photos of churches from gondolas in Venice; I am sure it was for touristy reasons. After France24 reported on the failed attempt by an entire cell of Muslim women to blow up Notre Dame Cathedral, I understood, it’s a dry run for the open season on western civilization.

Communism was bad enough, but I don’t know what to expect in a huge banana republic like ours and I certainly don’t like European Union’s bureaucratic socialism run from its the facto capital Brussels.

I had misplaced nostalgia to revisit living in the country of my birth or some other place in Europe. I get frustrated because this country I’ve adopted is fast becoming a banana republic and few seem to care. Change is inevitable and expected; positive change is good but forced progressive transformation is another story.



  1. Tony and I went to Columbus in 2012 for the funeral of a very dear friend and even though we had only left in 2009, things had changed so much we almost didn't recognize it. Tony had lived there since the late 70's and I had been there since 1984. We just did not belong there anymore. Moreover - your brother sounds like one of mine - sorry you have to deal with that kind of toxic behavior.

    1. I don't have any brothers and sisters. Dad's brother lives in grandma's house because we, the heirs, allowed him to. I wished he was a nicer human being, but we don't choose our relatives, Marianne, God does.

  2. BTW - don't worry - if Hillary is elected - or whomever replaces her, we will suddenly be a lot like Romania.....

  3. Hi Ileana-I am impressed with your divergent thinking and resilience: Why not a memorial to your Dad here, in America. And if it's near to you, you and your daughters will honor be able to honor him, making this country a spiritual home to those who could not come here because of tyranny. I'm sure many of your friends would like to honor your father here too, me included.

    1. Thank you so much, Carol, for your lovely thoughts!
      I always thought that the spirit of the deceased stays near the body but I was told I was wrong.
      I even thought about bringing a bag full of dirt from his grave and place it near the memorial but then I knew customs will confiscate it for fear of introducing unwanted nematodes into this country.