Our landscaper, Marcos, is a swell guy. In order to provide for his wife and twin girls, he commutes 4 to 5 hours a day from a more affordable area in the Bay Area of Northern Ca. to a more affluent community that can afford to pay him living wages. He gets up around 4 each morning, gets home around 7:30 or 8 at night, rain or shine, and never do I see this man in a foul mood.
Most of the time, I’m not home to see/hear him and his whiny leaf blower, but on those occasions that I am, I’ll venture outside of my rabbit hole and swap stories with him. Inevitably, he greets me with the largest of smiles and is always upbeat. Last week I hopped out to see him and he told me of a special award’s assembly he attended at his girl’s school and was so excited and so very proud – their teacher informed him that his girls are doing so well that they’re skipping first grade and going straight into second – what a proud moment for him; what a gift, unexpected.
This immigrant from Mexico, with little money for school, came to America to find freedom and a better life for himself; has twin-girls that are smart, has twin-girls that are talented. This landscaper by week and chef on weekend, has twin-girls that could eventually cure the most incurable of diseases or make a social contribution to the world to make our lives better someday, because their Popi was brave and their Popi was steadfast; in his journey of self, in his journey to freedom.
Never have I heard him complain. Never have I heard him say a bad word about anyone. He’s worked injured and sick and hungry and tired; and all through the pain and all through the fatigue, he’s had one solitary goal – one solitary prayer: let me be a good Popi to my girls, let me keep them safe and provide, and I’ll continue to work hard and I’ll continue to make do.
In between times, he takes English class at night school and makes sure he reads to his girls; they go sledding to Tahoe and cook meals together, too. I don’t know when the man sleeps and sometimes wonder how he makes do, but of this I am certain, of this I am sure: He is a man of integrity and a man I respect, and I’m proud to have met him and thankful that a wall didn’t keep him out of my life.
I don’t speak Spanish and he speaks little English, but his face and his hands speak a language we both understand – a language not taught in our schools – a dialect of kindness and a tolerance of mankind.
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, the undocumented immigrant and repeated felon who accidentally shot 31-year-old Kate Steinle while she was walking with her father on a SF pier in July of 2015 has only two things in common with my Marcos – his Mexican birthplace and an accent.
I don’t know if Marcos crossed the border legally or illegally. I do know that he is a loving father and husband and a kind person to most all. And I know that building walls will not protect us or our children from unkindness or hurt. It will not promote understanding or forgiveness or further our cause.
The walls that we build – the walls of brick and mistrust – are walls that will fall, because they’re walls made of fear and fear will not stand.
Compassion or understanding or acceptance will not solidify. What we fear most will come true, and what is true is simply this: Ignorance is not blissful; it is hurtful and wrong, and ignorant people can only foster more hurt.
If we build walls, let them be walls to hold back water from rivers and seas, and let’s instead build a gateway – a gateway of acceptance and opportunity.
Let the gateway have laws and rigorously enforce them, but let’s make certain we build trust and promote kindness and well-being for all who enter and give; let’s make certain we’re fair and allow others in to share.
As we go forward into this future of uncertainties, may we take heart in knowing that we go forth as a nation built on liberty, equality, opportunity and diversity; and pray that our newly elected representatives take serious the positions they hold and honor their commitments to represent all……
In the meantime, be kind to each other and be kind to yourself, and I’ll catch ya next time, looking at life from my shoes.