|(E) For distance never separates hearts that really care
|By Nenad N. Bach |
Culture And Arts
(E) For distance never separates hearts that really care
|Hello Nenad, |
My name is Diana. I am a nurse/health educator. I live in the Blue Ridge
Mountains of South West Virginia.
I grew up in New York. At the age of 6, my parents left Brooklyn and moved
to Oceanside, Long Island, in pursuit of the American Dream. However, I
remember that Brooklyn neighborhood with fondness and love. It was a place
where people lingered on the sidewalk, where the corner candy store provided
a pretzel and egg cream, and penny candy was plentiful. It was a place where
we played stoop ball, and stick ball, and roller skated the hours away.
There was a lot of activity, and a lot of emotion.
Little did I know, however, that while I was growing up in an
Italian/Jewish/African American neighborhood, I had a biological grandmother
living close by who came from Croatia.
In 1928, she gave birth to Helen Agnus, the child who would grow up to become
my biological mother. She was born at a Catholic Hospital in Manhattan, close
to where my grandmother, Luce, lived, (somewhere near the George Washington
When I was 6 months old, my birth mother set me free to be adopted. From
that moment on, I lost contact with her until 45 years later. A few months
before finding her, I found her brother, my biological uncle, George. He
too, had not seen my birth mother for almost 5 decades. He was 82 when I
found him. That was about 3 years ago. It was he who had the history of my
biological grandmother, Luce. He told me she came from Dubrovnik, and
immigrated to America around 1913. She originally went to Watsonville,
California to live with her brother, Bozo. Another brother, Mato, left
Croatia in 1902, but returned to Dubrovnik in 1911 and worked to arrange for
my grandmother's fare to America.
Unfortunately, she died in 1962. I was still a young girl, and of course
knew nothing of her. Now, many years later, I am trying to reconnect with her
by "resurrecting" her life. It is a fascinating story of a young Croatian
immigrant woman, struggling to make a life for herself in a strange land. It
is a story of unrequited love, loss, pain, and suffering. But, it is also a
story of faith, determination, strong will, and an unyielding belief in God.
Indeed, it was her Catholic religion that sustained her.
Two years ago, after inquiring about her birth records from the Dubrovnik
Historical Society, I was able to find the village where she was born.
Searching the Internet, I found her brother's family (the one who returned to
Croatia), still living in the hamlet where she grew up. I have connected with
them. It is an exciting and wonderful revelation for me to learn I am
Croatian and actually have cousins still living in the land of my ancestors.
It is especially amazing for me, since I grew up without an identity--never
knowing what nationality or ethnic roots I descended from.
I now know who I am, and wish to celebrate my heritage. I want to live and
learn everything Croatian. For some reason, I believe it is the voice of my
ancestors who call me to this journey.
When I first found my cousin Mato (44), and his father, Duro (89),the son of
my grandmother's brother who returned to Croatia in 1911, I wrote this poem:
Distance can never separate
hearts that really care.
So think of me Mato,
and I will be right there.
You can hear my footsteps walking
along your mountain side----
You can feel my heartbeat beating
with much Croatian pride.
The blood of our ancestors
runs deep in both our veins.
We honor every memory
by sharing their joys and pains.
So please remember Mato,
when you see the sky, that I am right there with you
standing so close by.
Let the miles between us vanish
as we listen to the wind -- our voices it will carry
across a distant land.
Bozo, Mato, and Luce
once traveled over the sea
Look at the ocean now Mato,
and please remember me.
We can visit anytime -- no matter when or where.
For distance never separates
hearts that really care.
So this is part of my story. I am on a discovery to connect with my origins
and biological past. Thank you for including me in your newsletter. I want
to keep up with everything.
I am very proud to be able to connect to the second and third and "n"t
Croatian generation. All the effort seems suddenly appropriate. This is our
own strenght and honor. Welcome !
p.s. Anybody knows Croatians from South West Virginia? Any school to learn
Croatian language near by? Please contact me if you hear of one.
distributed by CROWN (Croatian World Net) - CroworldNet@aol.com