Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The reason for this posting will become evident

It is 1917. You are a 22-year-old man named Dhimitri Kuçi. You were born in Vlonë, Albania, on February 15, 1895. When you were twelve you were sent to Italy to attend school. Now you are on your way to America to try to find your older brother. Someone took this photograph and put it on your passport.

Although you search, you will not be able to find your brother. Eventually you will settle down in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Seven years from now you will become a naturalized citizen of the United States and your name will change. Two years later, when you are 31 years old, a friend who runs a butcher shop will persuade you to return to Albania to marry his 19-year-old niece, Ksanthipi Rista, and bring her to the United States. Her widowed grandmother will come along on your honeymoon.

When you are 36, Ksanthipi will bear a son, who will be named after her uncle. When you are 40, she will also give you a daughter, whose godmother decides should have the same name as the wife of the President of the United States.

During the Great Depression, you will move your family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To support them, you will make and sell snow cones from a pushcart. During World War II, Ksanthipi will also become a naturalized citizen of the United States and her name will also change. You both will work in a defense plant for a while until you decide to open a restaurant outside a Marine base in Philadelphia. After the war ends you will move your family to North Carolina. Your son will graduate from college there and marry a North Carolina girl. Your daughter will graduate from nursing school.

When you are 66 years old, you and Ksanthipi will move to Orlando, Florida. Your daughter will marry a Texas fellow who joined the Air Force and was sent to McCoy Air Force Base. He will take your daughter to exotic places like Bellevue, Nebraska, and Poughkeepsie, New York, and Boca Raton, Florida, and Marietta, Georgia.

You will tend to the citrus trees in your backyard and every day you will walk around the block with Ksanthipi. Eventually your children will give you five grandchildren.

You will live to be 88, a ripe old age, and when you die you will be buried in what was once an orange grove. Three years later Ksanthipi will join you there. Eventually there will be six great-grandchildren.

But today you know nothing of this. It is 1917 and you are 22 years old and you are on your way to America.

Today -- the real today -- is the 115th anniversary of the day you were born.

Happy birthday, Pop!

All of the foregoing was originally posted on February 15, 2010. Today -- the real today, three and a half years after I wrote it the first time -- is the 30th anniversary of my father-in-law’s death on August 28, 1983. Today, while this nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of a 1963 civil rights march in Washington, D.C., and Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, I celebrate this man. I celebrate him.

We still miss you, Pop.


  1. Lovely tribute for Mrs RWP. The reason is evident. 28th August also in my mind today as it marked 15 years since my son's Dad died. I thought about blogging about it, but couldn't, so Thank You! Lovely post.

  2. I have never seen a young man cry. Well, of course I have. But I have never seen his eyes fill with tears because of sorrow, of loss, of memories of long ago brought in the now by a gifted writer. Those are the tears of old men. It is bittersweet and I am grateful for those memories. Thank you Mr. Brague.

  3. Carol in Cairns and also David Oliver, I am moved by both of your comments, and I don't know what to say in response to either one of them. Thank you.

  4. What a touching post, written in such an interesting manner. And a fine tribute of love too.

  5. Very touching and the best thing I've read today.

    On a separate note, a while back you told me about Elizabeth's new blog, but I now can't find it. Can you remind me please?

  6. Thank you, Ian. The URL for Elizabeth's blog is:

    Mutual Admiration Society Department: The best thing I've read today is this!

  7. Gentlemen, both your posts were superb and were really interesting reads. Mutual Admiration Society ~ let's just form a fan club :)

  8. Gee ~ after writing that ~ I do hope Shooting Parrots is male ~ sorry if you are not. Oops :/- Note to self ~ not to press the Enter key.

  9. RWP ~ I knew Shooting Parrots was male (Ian). Time for bed for me I think :)

  10. How odd that this morning I awoke dreaming of my own grandfather, a man I dearly loved and respected and still miss, though he passed away over 20 years ago. A wonderful tribute to your Pop. I am so sad that he never found his brother - did they ever learn what happened to him? Nicely written, thought provoking and heart-touching. Thank you.

  11. So interesting! Every life is an adventure; thank you for sharing!

  12. Carol (in Cairns), not sure I understand your comment -- there is no gender specificity in a Mutual Admiration Society. Or is there? And would that make a difference?

    Hilltophomesteader (in S.W. Washington state), thank you for those kind words. Nothing was ever learned for certain about the brother.

    LightExpectations (in S.W. California), he was one of my favorite people.

  13. RWP, no hidden meaning ~ I just had a brain fade.