Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Immigrant

I worked with a woman from Mexico, she spoke French and Spanish and was learning English from a private tutor who wanted to help her (free lessons). English did not come easy to her but she did not give up.

She and her husband wanted to come the USA like your grandparents, parents and family did.
They wanted their children educated in our universities.
She is a quiet lady, did not sit in the lunch room joining the latest gossip and kept her life very private.
Her work ethic was the best. I was the auditor in the store and had to take the phone calls before we opened and we could bet on the calls we would get on Mondays and Saturdays...."I have the flue" (read:>"hangover") ,my this and that is hurting I can't come in , (read: party tonight I have to get ready in time).
Never a call from her. She was there when she was supposed to be and quickly behind the counter rearranging.

Then her husband had Colon cancer and one could read the worry on her face.
Fortunately he is free of cancer as I write this.

A couple of time this past month I went into the store, she was behind the cash register very busy and smiling.
Waving at me. I noticed she had a new haircut and it was very well styled, daughter said to me :"Mom, I think it is a wig"
My stomach went into a knot. A wig? really a wig? I don't think so she always has this thick black hair, it is just shorter.
I did not want to know the reality. Cancer is now a word we live with since Zack became ill. To me a wig means cancer unless you watch Bravo and see all these ladies with different wigs every week.

So a few days ago we went back, daughter and I, there was the lady working and talking with customers with big smiles and eyes shining with friendly greetings. I noticed right away that her face seemed smaller and sort of yellow in color.
I was alarmed. My ex manager took me into the lunch room and told me the story.

The lady had a complete mastectomy 3 years ago, kept it silent at work.
Had gone to Mexico to see some relatives and came right back to work.
Then she decided at some point to get a wig like her old style.
Told her co-workers what the problem was and wanted her privacy to be intact.
Doctors found it had spread in the bones and other organs, it is terminal.

The store had a special fund for such cases and the workers added quite a large sum to give to this lady as a goodbye gift.
She refused several times. A shock to her co-workers, she was gracious about it and asked that she just could continue to do her work as usual with the time out for her chemo (now a new chemo fresh on the market) .No one could believe that she refused the gift.

I could hardly leave the store without crying.
Yes, she was an immigrant, legal or not I do not care. Yes ,the store had hired her and yes she is doing a marvelous job, always has. An example for all of us.
She and her husband contributed to also give us 2 adults both with a degree in nursing and teaching.
We, Americans, are to be grateful.

I am an immigrant, I became a US Citizen, I have 3 American children and 6 grandsons.
I am proud of my little tribe, all are terrific Americans and contribute to this country to the best of their knowledge.

The people who want to be here have an agenda to get a better life for themselves and their children.
I am very happy to know the very lovely M.


Kathleen Stander said...

This is a wonderful story, and a powerful reminder that all should be welcome to America. I get my pants in a wrinkle whenever I hear people complaining about the "damned Mexicans" and how they're stealing jobs and bringing in drugs. The stereotyping is dangerous.

Jeannot said...

I do think that somehow I had received an email with that response, if I missed it, thank you for your input, love it!