During the days of the Cold War, when my oldest daughter Lizzie (for some insights into Lizzie, see Lessons from Mom) and I were traveling and living in Russia (see Back in the USSR), we would always say goodbye to friends when we left, realizing that the likelihood of seeing them again was slim, of keeping in contact by writing difficult, and of seeing them in the United States totally impossible. Likewise, a decade later, while living and working in Uzbekistan, I stayed with an elderly teacher by the name of Lida. She was the aunt of one of my colleagues, an immigrant from Moscow, and I became the conduit of information, money, and gifts between them. Both knew that they would never be able to see each other again, politics being what they were, and so I became a living link. Lida always referred to me as "rodnaya," which is a term that one uses with one's flesh-and-blood to demonstrate bonding and love.
It has been ten years since I last saw Lida. When politics became even worse between the USA and Uzbekistan, my consults for the Uzbekistan Ministry of Education dried up. I, too, became resigned to the fact that Lida was part of my history, no longer a part of my life.
Then, the wall fell, and the Soviet Union dissolved. Still, relations with Uzbekistan have remained poor.
Somehow, though, the thaw between the USA and the former Soviet countries in general has had a meliorating effect on tourist visas, and I learned two weeks ago that Lida had received a 3-month visa to visit her relatives in the USA. Today they showed up on my doorstep!
San Ignatio held its annual fiesta today, and I had clean-up duty. None of that deterred us, however. We all got together at the fiesta, enjoying the extraordinary experience of being together in one country, even in San Ignatio. We will, of course, get together again -- and again -- over the next three months in San Ignatio and in the nearby town where Lida's relatives live.
The weather was balmy with a slight breeze today. The sun shone upon us in all senses of that word. A perfect day! One that began with a big hug from Lida and the greeting to "rodnaya." One that ended, as well, with a big hug from Lida and the parting to "rodnaya."
What I learned this day (and have always known): one does not need to share blood to share blood! I also learned something that I have not always known: our modern world is amazing and marvelous. Whoever would have thought that Lida, who befriended me so kindly in Tashkent a decade ago, would be sitting on my sofa today!
(photos coming -- I did not have a camera with me, so will have to wait for those who did to share photos)