Note: If you haven't listened to Mary's first episode, Paradise in Palestine, you may want to start with that one.
Here's a little background to this episode with John's Auntie Mary, who is 86:
The year that I began dating my husband, John, was a big year in his extended family. I was lucky enough to attend about 10 weddings, anniversary celebrations, or other milestone events.
In addition to being introduced to Palestinian food, which I found delicious, I was quickly introduced to his large extended family. I was immediately impressed with their ability to make a life for themselves here in the United States. John's father, his Auntie Mary (who you'll be hearing from today), and nine other immediate family members (siblings and parents) immigrated to the US over roughly a decade around the 1950s, give or take some years.
They were not coming from a place of wealth or privilege; quite the opposite, in fact.
After stripping Palestinians, first of weapons with which to defend themselves, then much of their land and many of their homes, the international community even erased the name of their country, Palestine, from maps. So, John's family arrived in the United States as citizens, according to their passports and birth certificates, of Jordan, a country they did not claim as their home.
Yet here in the US, John's family found great success.
And it was obvious to me they achieved this success together.
His family was rowdy. They were loud (like he is), they were beyond hardworking and energetic (also, like John is).
But perhaps most of all, they were loyal: First, to one another, and then to Palestine. Truly, they welcomed me with open arms. But I also knew - if I ever wronged John, the ranks would close around him - very, very quickly.
That's how this family is: family comes first.
The burdens of establishing themselves here in the US were shared among all of their shoulders, and the success of one was the success of all.
So, as we continue in this series, I felt that I wanted to devote an entire episode to these nine siblings, not as I knew them, but as Mary experienced them in her childhood and their childhood at home in Palestine. And I am so very honored to do that today.
P.S. I do ask that you bear with me on a couple of technical issues. The first is that we are still working through the sound setup at Auntie Mary's house. Second, this episode required significantly more editing than my typical episodes. I was piecing together several different conversations. Also, there were some debates as to which things were best left among family. When in doubt, we chose to protect the stories and feelings of Auntie Mary's beloved family members. As a result, you will hear just a few non sequiturs or abrupt changes in conversation. I know you'll understand - and thank you for doing so.
But most of all - thank you for joining me today in listening to Mary's stories.