08 February 2012

Word(y) Wednesday: We Learned English

I'm sentimental.  I keep objects around me that remind me, give me strength. 

My husband says I'm a pack rat.  But I use these items.  They aren't clutter that sit collecting dust, having no value to anyone at all.

One of the things I love to collect are books.  I have 4 full sized bookcases filled with books. 

Some of the books I have a special place for are the books that remind me of our coming to Amerika.


These are the books I remember my parents pouring over at the dining room table, pencil and small notepads in hand.  Copying down words, sounding them out, writing them in sentences, erasing, rewriting. 

Asking me if I knew a word once I was in school. 

Writing and rewriting on small pieces of paper, checkered with blue lines.  The typical paper on which letters were written and mailed back and forth between family in Poland.  Letters that took one month to arrive to the USA, another month for the reply to be delivered in Poland.

My Tato (father) took a few English language classes for free after we came here.  My mother didn't.  Both poured themselves into Amerikan television, repeating sentences.  Reading books borrowed from the library, found at yard sales, anywhere we could get them. 

Stumbling over computer programming books written in English when computers first came out, because my Tato said that it "is the future"-even when others laughed at such a silly idea as computers.

Playing Rolling Stone songs and singing along.  Trying and trying and trying again.

To learn English because we came to Amerika.  We wanted to success, to be able to eat better food than boiled white rice, one extremely cheap piece of chicken or hot dog per person, a can of vegetables split between a family of four.

We wanted a hard earned piece of the Amerikan Dream.  And the Amerikan Dream didn't involve anyone learning Polish for our benefit.  It involved us learning English.  Or else living in poverty forever with no future at all.

I look at those books and remember struggle.  Persistence.  Tears of frustration.  Stumbled words.  Trying and trying again. 

Accents that I didn't hear because to me, they weren't accents.  It's how we spoke. 

I look at those books and I know all we lost and all we gained.

I would look up at Church and read the PNCC motto "With Truth, Work, and Struggle, We Will Succeed" and feel it deep in my heart because I knew it was true. 

I know we are strong.

Na razie...


Related Posts:

My Feet in Two Worlds, The Brutally Honest Truth of It

Bigger Picture Moments: Soft Boiled Eggs and a Reminder of a World of Love

Another Immigrant Family

Our Life Changing Anniversary


Mom Photographer said...

That second book from the right is the exact dictionary I learned my English from. It's still in my parents house. I think my niece learns from it these days!

wnygrl585 said...

my mom learned english along with me learning to read. When she was studying for her citizenship the local paper snaped her photo. Years later Hilary came to town and I told her to take her photo and ask her to autograph it which she did. We came along way.

off kilter said...

My grandma learned lots of English from TV, especially soap operas. Lovely to read about your link to these books and why you keep them in sight.