Thursday, June 10, 2010

"She is Empowering Mother"

my American host mother and lucy, her lovely dog in the porch
image from here

Flashback five years ago. I swung in happiness after received a call from my thousand miles away-American host mom. It was on the exact month of June. After few times emailing each other, she called me warmly regarding my arrival in the States. I remember it was Thursday, June 9th 2005 when I got such an unexpected yet surprising call. Then, we stayed in touch and kept sending information about my arrival preparation regularly. I was happy go lucky girl, esp. realizing that my other friends even didn't know their host-family yet.

August 2005. I flew away to the land of freedom, and was the last yet only Indonesian girl left in the orientation place, in Chevy Chase, Maryland. For the first time, I deeply felt the mixed-feeling of loneliness, excitement, worrisome, and hopefulness. For the next journey, I was guided by one young girl, named Alexis Clark, AFS volunteer. Also, not forget to mention, my Southeast Asian buddy, Saima from the Philippines. We are the only YES students hosted in the Garden States, New Jersey. (Btw, I just found my exchange student's blog. I cant help laughing while reading it. Please enjoy)

It took about three hours to get Princeton by Amtrak. The next orientation in Princeton was awesome, although I kept secretly my soft-yearning that yelling to my heart. I knew that all 13 AFS-ers had the same feeling. Hence, we didn't need a long time to start befriended and accepted the difference. After all, we would always be one AFS family. On the last day of orientation, my host family picked me up. My host mom and host sister impressed me a lot. There are there, for picking me up. They are them who had been waiting for me since early June. I hugged them tightly and my thank can never be enough. I remember my mom who was in a blue summer blouse cried when seeing me. I was speechless, but couldn't cry in return.

We had a little conversation in the car a long way from Princeton to Ridgewood. I felt a sleep almost a half way home. They understood that I was in jet lag, and let me take a nap in the car. When I reached home I continued my nap and had my first meal at home with burger filled by turkey meat. It was good, but the size was too big for a tiny girl like me. My host mom really loved to cook and I always loved to eat. Her food was undoubtedly delicious and healthy. My favorite one is paella (Spanish rice dish). She also really care with the healthy food and nutrition. That's why she always encouraged me to eat salad.

299 West Ridgewood Ave, Ridgewood, New Jersey

My mom like to gardening. On the backyard of this beautiful yellow house, we have a small garden, planted by various kinds of flowers and vegetables. What I amazed from this country is the fertilized soil. I never thought about that. On the summer, we even can pick, cook, and/or eat vegetables from our garden.

I experienced and valued many things with my host mom, from happy to sad, from little to big, from silly to important, and too many to tell. We like to discuss and argue about what's going on this world, especially about current affairs. As ex-editor of New York Times, journalist and contributor of AP and VOA, I strongly impressed with her broad-minded thought and knowledgability (knowledgeable ability). Anyway, I made up that word. She also always underlined that she really hates George W. Bush. Not only dislike, but with the highest level of dislikeness, which is hate.

I felt forced and motivated in the same time, when she said that I have to be Indonesian President. She said it a lot, not just few times. I was just smile (bitterly. Hehe. because I know my capacity). I know what her point at that time by telling me so. She really believed in the importance of my exchange year program. She wanted to make a difference, and make a change. She was really involved in YES activities. YES (Youth Exchange and Studies), the program that send me to the States to value the living atmosphere and sharing with American people with the most basic principle of human being can ever be touched. I quoted her saying ".. the goal of YES Program is to produce a positively charged "ripple effect" on intercultural awareness, " she said.

news coverage about myself and my involvement in school theatrical group .

Few days ago, I received a sad news from my mom informed me that my mom died. Hold on. My previous sentences was literally wrong. That must be so scary if really happens. No, I mean I was so lucky to be blessed by two wonderful host-family in Ridgewood. I have two host family. Two wonderful host mother preferred me to call them with 'Mom'. So, I have two host Moms. One is what I described above. Another one is previously my AFS liaison and continued to be one of the most closed yet fantastic person who loves and treats me as her own kids. On the half of my AFS year I was encouraged to experience another type of American family, who lives just few blocks from the big yet beautiful yellow house above. I then moved with my super host family in 209 West Glen Ave, Ridgewood.

my mom in front of her house. i liked to help Tim (host dad) sweep this large yard.

My mom told me a grief story that my 1st mom passed away due to lungs cancer about few days ago. I was so shocked and saddened. My words couldn't express how sorry I was for this loss. My mom also suggested me to google the news, because the news was published a lot in the local, and even state media. Having had the experience to know my American mom personally was quite experience for me. And yeah, she had done many great things in life, and dedicated her whole-hearted spirit and aptitude to Ridgewood community. Thus, my sincere thoughts and prayers are truly with her. I hope she rest in peace, forever.

My mom is Ridgewood Councilwoman until at the time she passed away. On the same month and date, five years ago when I was introduced and said Hi to her. Today, I had to send my soft goodbye to her because her life-line already came to the dot. Here is the recent news from which cover the story about the 'celebration of her life' that attended by hundreds of friends and family. I wanna cite what the site wrote :

"... After emotional speeches from her three children, Zusy’s husband, Al Ortiz, closed the ceremony, calling Zusy "an empowering mother." "When Annie recovered from breast cancer 16 years ago, she vowed not to waste another minute of another day," Ortiz said. "‘When it’s my time to go,’ she said back then, ‘I want people to have plenty to say and I want my children to hear it.’"

Reading that article made my heart beats faster and remained a sorrow deep down inside. I wish to be there and together with the beloved ones celebrated my mom's next stage of life. From the news, I also noticed that the prayers on the funeral was delivered in three religions, Islam, Jewish, and Christian. It was so unique of being her, and was really reflecting her.

The only thing I kept to remember her, beside experiences lied to my heart, is the 'testament' she wrote to me in the day I was leaving Ridgewood. It was so special when she also gave me seeds and sands from in front of her house to make me remember her and Ridgewood. Which I will do for sure. Here I also uploaded the special letter she wrote to me. You can click for zooming in.

To make an end of this post I wanted to share the verse I recite today from Surah Yaseen, Quran :

"Exaltation to Him whose Hand is the Kingdom of all thing, and to Him you will be returned" (36:83)

My condolence regards to my host mother who already return to Him. Like Dad said, she is empowering mother indeed. And yeah, many people have plenty to say about her, and your children hear it a lot. For sure.


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