My Heritage: A Hodge Podge Of Cultural Melting Pot
Today’s blog is going to be a bit all over the place but I hope to make my connections in the end which you may understand and if you don’t please leave a comment and I will try to clarify for you if I can.
I’ve been wanting to share this story for a while now but wasn’t sure how to do it. My story is not really that unique but for me, it does form me into who I am. I am quite proud of my heritage but at times, I feel as if I have missed out on a few things. I can’t compare it to the stolen generation of Aboriginal Australia but when I hear the stories that they share. I can feel a kinship to it because in some ways, I have lost parts of my own heritage though I wasn’t ripped from my family in the way they were. The Aboriginal language is said to be dying and I can say that the Cajun French my father spoke growing up is sort of dying as well. The University of Louisiana Lafayette is teaching Cajun French now. I never took the course but to me Cajun French is a living language. The aborigines of Australia have a rich oral history but because the stolen generation was stripped from their families they have lost quite a bit of it. It’s hard to write down a history when it has been robbed from you or denied to you since it was deemed not worthy of knowing. When my father was growing up, he was not allowed to speak the language of his birth in school. He spoke it when visiting his family but he didn’t teach it to his children.
I know more about my father’s side of my family mostly due to the fact that is where they decided to settle once he retired from the Army. Both of my mother’s parents were deceased by
the time I was born. My father’s parents were still living in Louisiana when he was stationed at Ft Polk or at least my Paw Paw was. I think Me Maw died right before or right after we moved to Louisiana. I was only about 3 when she died. I do know a little bit about my mom’s father and mother. Her father immigrated from Naples, Italy when he was 9. My mom’s mother was born from Irish American stock. My mom spoke very little of her upbringing.
Dad’s sister, Dolly would come up and help us slaughter pigs or we would drive down to visit PaPa and Aunt Dolly who lived about an hour’s drive south-west of us near Hathaway.
We might go down for a cousin’s wedding. Oh, the fun we’d have watching our parents dance or dancing with each other.
One of my dad’s favorite recording artists was Doug Kershaw. My father said that Doug was a cousin. I am not sure if this is actual fact but one of my fondest memories of my dad is him singing “Louisiana Saturday Night” or “Jole Blon” or “Louisiana Man”. Jole Blon was definitely Dad’s all time favorite.
Certain things bring back memories to me. Just as the Boab tree in Western Australia moves me. Looking at Bald Cypress trees in the Atchafalaya Basin can move me especially if a great white egret is perched on or near it. I am not sure why but I have always loved Southwestern Louisiana. I know it’s partly to do with my father’s heritage. I know when we would drive down to Lafayette my heart would always skip a beat when I spotted the spanish moss strewn cypress trees. I am really thankful that we got to take a swamp tour with Judy and Margaret back in 2006. I am not sure if it holds good memories for them but it sure did bring up some nice ones for me.
I took Adam down to look at Vermillionville when he came to meet me for something to do as well as try to let him get an idea about my heritage on my father’s side. I learned more myself with that visit. If you are ever in Lafayette, Louisiana, I highly recommend spending some time exploring the venue. I know if I get to return back to Louisiana, I would go again if I can fit it into my schedule.
It sort of baffles me how humanity can keep making the same mistakes when it comes to prejudices. I have come across bigotry and prejudices while growing up on my father’s side of the family. I look also how people who believe in God can look down on other believers because they don’t use the same rituals to praise Him. I am not sure why some people believe they are better than some one else because of skin colour or religious belief. I have seen it occur in films which were made all over the world. It occured in my own ancestory. It has happened in Australia with natives being taken away from their families for the greater good. Children who should have been with their families were taken to be taught how to serve or be educated to be better. These people survived thousands of years before white men came along and decided that they were the savages. When I look at it, I can see who the real savages were.
It’s not just the white people though who have this twisted sense of righteousness. I know of people who look down at their fellow countrymen because of their religious belief or because they were not born on the right side of the track. Lies can be told a thousand different ways but the truth can be only told only one way. In my heart, I feel as if we are suppose to live with tolerance. I strive to honour our differences and learn to respect others beliefs even if they aren’t my own. Money doesn’t make you a better person or education can not make you a better person if you can’t discern the truth from what you are being taught. Blind acceptance of things will not protect you but shedding light on situations will help you find the truth of what is being told.
The pieces of information I get from my heritage have helped form me. I walk with the knowledge of where I come from in hope of spreading love and tolerance to others that I touch in my lifetime.