Today’s über focus went all blurry. Instead of my 15 min dawn routine, I slept in then sat at the computer in my nightgown while the water heater kicked in for my shower. I was up until 1 or 2 going through the 150 vacation photos my son took in Omaha visiting family. His grade school (shown here) and neighborhood haunts fascinated him. I downloaded his camera memory card onto my computer as his is not working.
He made plans with me last night to go to breakfast. Today we sat for several hours at an outdoor cafe talking about his few days in the Midwest. I enjoyed all of his descriptions of my family and his dad's family. Most of all it was wonderful to hear how he had become a man amongst these people. He said that he sensed so many of them, including a friend and cousins, aunts, his father and his half sister all needing to relieve themselves - pain, fear, memories, etc.
I listened to him describe how he held his father sobbing at Angel's grave, saying he wanted it all to go back to the four of us. This was moving for my son (of course) and a good opportunity for him to talk with me about the past, about marriage, children, divorce and relationships. We talked about expectations. My reactions were to rave about his efforts to connect and to be a strength for his family. He'd told me he stood up to Granny (my mother, who refuses to ask for help) as he insisted that they were going to grocery shop. He was adamant that they stock her kitchen. He carried the loads up the three flights of stairs at her place. He knows that this is a real need of hers.
He suffered over a family member raising a toddler in a home that isn't safe (clean) and a cousin who has become a totalitarian asshole with his adopted daughter as he is watching his wife (the young woman's mother) die of cancer. He grieved over seeing the waste in those Omaha homes. He said he saw no evidence of recycling, aisles and aisles of conventional food without organic produce and no talk of sustainability. The people, the grocery stores and spaces were sprawling. The heart of the nation surrounded by rich resources being squandered, poisoned or ignored. Extra weight, hip surgery required . . .
I reminded him that this was the heart of Agri-Business and the Republican base. Con Agra's tower is downtown Omaha. This is the belly of the beast. I stressed it wasn't about farmers or people; it was about corporate takeover and greed. And there are not enough voices in the heartland that are heard raging against this beast. Meat eating football fans were just not being encouraged to ditch their old destructive habits. Resistance to change is venerated as the moral high ground. I remember the self-satisfied voices of my youth condemning anyone who moved away as 'not strong enough' to live in the Midwest. *Sigh*
So, I asked my son how he would summarize his 5-day vacation. He said he thinks that he found his center. Seeing all the childhood landmarks and the people, especially Granny - his deepest bond, gave him real comfort. And, he marveled that he had never done one thing ever before . . . He and his father cooked Middle Eastern food together for the first time. They made raw kibbee, baked kibbee and zinaycal.
He wants to show me the dishes to add to our own Middle Eastern menus. This image of raw lamb, cracked wheat and onions - garnished with mint leaves and Greek olives really got to me. It is served on a plate I recognize as my ex mother-in-law's. She died 22 years ago.
My son and I decided that our holiday meals this year would include some of these classic Lebanese dishes this year.
Disclaimer: I know that there are Omaha residents who are living sustainable lives and blogging about this. I know there are activists fighting valiantly against the Agri-Business giants. And I know there are thousands and thousands currently reliant on jobs within this current structure. My intent is to name the impressions of this man's visit with his family. These are his impressions coupled with my opinions and experience.
Update: He read this account and his only critique was the Granny shopping. He didn't have to fight her and he didn't 'stock' the kitchen. This was how I heard his story, based on my past experience.
Update 2: Reading this months later I am just cracking up over my disdain for meat eating heartland, then showing a plate of meat. I treat this plate of raw lamb as a fond family bond. Ironic?