Bilingual

By A Friend • October 13, 2020

I once read a line in a poem that went, "Love everyone as your own". I related because I grew up with a family of twelve (10 children and parents) and a large, extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Neighbors were in and out of each others homes at any given hour of any day, for years! Everybody was "family". Italian and French mingled with English; Eastern European accents told the unspoken suffering of escape, survival and lost loved ones.

I later learned Spanish while living in NYC and married a Japanese, who fortunately spoke conversational English! One day my husband received word that a dear friend from Japan, who he hadn't seen in many years, was visiting our city and we happily planned to meet. When we finally met, we discovered that his friend had been in South America for many years and spoke only Japanese and Spanish. So he spoke to me in Spanish and to my husband in Japanese; I spoke to him in Spanish and to my husband in English; and my husband spoke to me in English and to his friend in Japanese. We did this for about an hour! Sweet fun!

That lighthearted experience many years ago teaches me to learn other types of "language", to understand other persons who I don't "get"...the language of someone whose experience takes a man, woman, child (and even animal) down a road very different from mine. To understand this "language" requires a humble willingness to learn, commitment to listen, and unhurried pace - hallmarks of learning. Hopefully, when our various roads meet we will be able to enjoy the richness of each other, and "love everyone as our own"!

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