Okay, many of you will recognize that I "stole" the material below...from my other Web site. Hey, last time I checked with SIU-C...that is NOT considered plagiarism!
NOTES FROM A NATIVE DAUGHTER
Well, do unto others...as they have already done unto you!
Julie's sister, Rachel...
Okay, Julie, I'll stop right there...and explain!
Since I just can't seem to keep my mouth shut these days...keep revealing "the inner Ron"...have to tell you a story - and I promise to make it a short story - about how I refer to relatives. If you haven't ever thought about this topic, then here is your chance...to see what category you fit into. Now...I don't think there is any psychological omen about which one you are...you just are.
Maybe it was because of the interracial marriage...maybe Julie was ever-alert to any "reservations" on my part about what we had gotten ourselves into...I don't really know. It's just that I SOON learned to be VERY cautious about how I referred to Julie's family when introducing them to others. (Hey...I'm trainable...especially when the penalty was the disfavor of Julie Newell.)
Anyway, if you haven't figured out where I'm going with this (getting longer) story...
When YOU introduce your in-laws, do you introduce, say Rachel, as "JULIE'S sister", or do you introduce her as "YOUR sister-in-law".
At the time Julie and I first had this "discussion", I have to admit that I didn't think it made a bit of difference. "Who cares?", I protested...and I maintained that position for years! I didn't ALWAYS back down immediately...our couch was still relatively new...and comfortable. (Actually, I'm making this part up. I was NOT a frequent couch-sleeper...although it did happen on a couple of occasions.)
Well...Julie was just as adamant that there was a BIG difference! According to Julie, for me to identify Rachel as "Julie's sister" was a not-so-subtle statement that she was no relationship to me...whereas, if I would introduce her as MY sister-in-law, I was embracing the relationship...that Rachel was, indeed, my relative.
Frequently, I would point out how other folks - white and black - would do the same thing as I. She wasn't impressed. Finally, we just quit talking about it. But...the more I reflected, the more I could see her point...especially in a mixed marriage. I mean...if Julie thought about it, then other people might see things that way too. I certainly did NOT was to send some subtle message to a stranger that I was rejecting my new family. So...I tried to be very careful whenever the occasion arose to introduce MY father-in-law, or MY mother-in-law, or MY brother-in-law, or MY sister-in-law.
So...without further ado, I would like to return a favor to my sister-in-law. Rachel Jones has a blog that she started when she went off to deepest, darkest Africa, to teach emerging journalists in a developing country how to ply their trade. Rachel was stationed in Gulu, Uganda, when she got the news about Julie's illness. She immediately dropped everything and returned to Cairo...to share the vigil with me during those final weeks. I know that I could not have made it without her...and I know that she brought joy into Julie's heart as they got to spend some final quality time together.
Look...I'm sorry, I just can't seem to say anything "short" anymore!
Let me just get to the point...Rachel put out a notice on her blog...publicizing my julieanewell.com web site. So...I think it only fitting that I give you the URL for her blog so that you can check it out.
Rachel gave some very personal accounts of Julie's last days. I didn't even know about it until a mutual friend told me about it. During that time, I wouldn't read it...knew that I couldn't handle it. It was only after Julie's passing that I finally ventured forth...and cried my heart out.
But...Rachel is a helluva writer and I think it would be time well spent if you would visit her blog and see what a former Cairo High School graduate has to say about the world she experiences...and life.
The address for MY SISTER-IN-LAW'S blog is http://nativedaughternotes.blogspot.com/