My daddy was Syrian, with thick dark hair and eyes and skin.
He could sing like a cantor, and he did.
In his family, they spoke Arabic and drank Turkish coffee. The teens dates were chaperoned by aunties and uncles.
They all worked together on Safie Street (my great-grandma’s family name) and worked at the Safie pickle farm.
They were old world immigrants and they were beautiful and proud and hard-working. They loved God. They loved each other. The loved me, and I loved them, too.
But after Daddy died, I lost touch with them all, as sadly most families do. I didn’t have a single Safie (or Gannage, my great-grandpa’s name) in my phone book or on facebook. My brother and I were cut off from the fruitful family tree.
It was two years ago that the people of Syria began to be hunted and slaughtered by their own government with bombs and chemical weapons.
It was two years ago that I started a #prayforsyria campaign on all my social media.
It was 6 months ago that, in an effort to get more saints to lift up the people of my daddy’s familial homeland, that I posted this picture of my grandma Mary and my grandpa, James with the hashtag #prayforsyria…when a modern miracle happened…
At the moment I clicked “post” an angel must have been hovering over my keyboard, because a garden of grand-kids and cousins and aunties and uncles began to germinate and sprout before my very eyes and in less than 20 minutes, my brother and I had a Syrian family again and I just want to praise the Lord for that.
Why does blood and history and DNA tie us so tightly? Because that’s how God planned it, I think.
I can look into even the profile pics of these dear ones and see my Grandma eyes smiling back and I has propped me up in a whole new way. My heart crying “I am NOT alone.”
I can only imagine the road that is stretched out before the refugees of the crisis in Syria…as if there is still a Syria left. Syria, with your music, a your architecture or universities and gold and lapis art…you are not alone. Syria, with your olive skin and green eyes…you are not alone.
This weekend…my family will have it’s first reunion that what not at a wedding or a funeral. This weekend (tomorrow in fact) we, the Ganagge’s and Safie’s…the Syrian-Americans will break Syrian bread in a park. We’ll share hummus and tabouli and kibbee and every other good thing. Mostly, we’ll share pictures and stories and hugs and my brother will hear “You look JUST like your FATHER!” a million times or more.
Our kids will play, and we will pray and somehow the “great cloud of witnesses”, our ancestors will look down and say, “That’s my family. They love each other.” or at least I hope that’s what they will say. They will surely say “They love Syria. Syria, you are not forgotten.”