RECIPE: a tale of thanks for independence day & always

san_July 4, 2009

this was posted by an old friend of the forum 6 years ago. the message is timeless, (as was she) and a GREAT reminder of more than a few things we should all be grateful for. yes it's long but there isn't a single sentence i'd delete :) best wishes to all--

A Fourth of July Greeting from Your Resident Cuban

Posted by Marlen (My Page) on Fri, Jul 4, 03 at 1:44

Today we Americans celebrate my favorite holiday. Both DH and I are naturalized American citizens so this day is very special to us. He emigrated here from Germany and I from Cuba. On 11/11/61, when I was the age of 11, the people of this great country opened their arms and hearts and took me in. I didnt ask for a handout and never got one, but I was taught that through hard, honest work I, too, could achieve the American Dream. And I learned, and I worked and I have. I wave Old Glory and hum God Bless America every day. So July 4th is the only day of the year I can actually appear normal.

IÂll be heading later to my familyÂs annual July 4th celebration, wearing a brand new red, white and blue outfit and wearing the lovely pin of the U.S. with which FlamingO gifted me, and which I wear almost every day. Even the dogs will be wearing new patriotic bandannas. And we will sing the National Anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, in various accents but meaning every word. And we will pray for those members of our family who are serving our beloved country in the military, and all the brave men and women who serve alongside them. Because we came here seeking freedom, and we know only too well that freedom isnÂt free. Special hugs and a big kiss to rabbitÂs son, Jerm. who is a proud Marine. Semper fi, my dear! And we will hold a minute of silence to pray for all the heroes and heroines who paid the ultimate sacrifice to preserve that freedom. And I am going to hug every veteran I run into, especially my own husband. To all the veterans and their families here at the KT, special hugs to you all. Know I will forever be grateful to you and in your debt.

And I am going to overeat, have fun, bask in patriotism and be surrounded by the love of family and friends. And while I respect the patriotism of all my friends in foreign countries, I know only too well that American citizenship is sought after by many millions all over the world. And I am very lucky to have it and I can't help but be proud of it.

I was granted that privilege on 11/71, almost 10 years to the date of my arrival, and I am very grateful for it. I have tried to live every day since so that nobody ever regrets having bestowed such an honor upon me. So thank you, my fellow Americans, for letting me in. I wish you all the best Fourth of July ever! God Bless America. And may God also bless you, my dear fellow Americans.

The Marlen Chronicles: July 4th Mystery Revealed

Posted by Marlen (My Page) on Sun, Jul 6, 03 at 17:16

They got me and they got me good! This will be as long as the day that was.

I got all decked out for the fiesta in my patriotic finest, got all the food I had cooked ready to travel, then called DH to load up the van. In his typical helpful fashion he announced, "We ainÂt got #@$%^&* no catering truck!" After much grumbling, we arrived at our destination and I was elated to see several relatives from out of town whom I had not expected to see. Oh, so thatÂs it, I thought. How nice! Then I saw the Pakistani couple and I knew immediately what they were up to.

You see, a couple of months ago I reached my 100th mark. No, not in years, in Americans. Since 1972 to date, I have helped 100 people from 14 different countries to become American citizens. I teach them citizenship classes, I help them fill out the application, I take them to have their photographs and fingerprints taken, I translate all legal documents for official presentation to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and I see them thorough the interview to the swearing in ceremony. I do it because my beloved adopted country can use all the good people it can get and I had nobody to help me when I went through the process myself. Many of the 100 are family and friends, and others were strangers who became friends, like the Pakistani couple whom I met in a Chicago supermarket. And they were there! 61 of the 100 Â to party with me!! What joy!!!

They flew in from California, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. They drove in from Georgia and all over Northern Florida. And one by one stood up to tell me what it meant for them to be Americans and handed me a thank you note. I also received thank you cards from those who could not be with us, 100 cards in all!!

I was sobbing shamelessly all throughout. Just when I thought I could not take any more, I was forced to. The first of the 100, a cousin, came right up to me and said, "From 100 Americans to a great American," and shoved a velvet box in my face. I opened it to find a beautiful gold ring with three gemstones: a ruby, a diamond and a blue sapphire! Red, white and blue. Just like my heart and soul. They had all chipped in to get it for me!

I could not breathe and thought I was going to pass out. Another cousin, a doctor, rushed to take my pulse, my mother kept fanning me with her apron, and DH kept telling me to drink water, as if swallowing was an option with a huge lump in my throat. Nobody thought of handing me tissues to wipe the snots off my face, so I had to sacrifice my motherÂs apron.

The waterproof mascara held up but the entire front of my blouse was wet from tears. DH, ever the thoughtful, loving husband, added to my fond memory of the moment by loudly announcing that I looked like the big loser at a nursing home wet T-shirt contest. They all laughed and I forced myself to smile. I sure hope he ate enough there because it will be a cold day in hell before I cook again for that moron!

Then it was time to eat. I was concerned about the Pakistanis because the only people they knew there were DH and me. But I neednÂt have worried. I turned to see the husband getting bongo drum lessons from one of the uncles while his wife was happily shoveling Cuban garbanzo salad into her mouth. All was well in the international arena!

The one crazy uncle dressed up again. He has been Uncle Sam, Kate Smith and John Wayne among others. This year, he came as Miss America. He wore a 2-piece swim suit which left plenty of room for the fat rolls from his belly to jiggle freely. He had a sash made of white crepe paper and wore one of those gold cardboard crowns you see on people on New YearÂs Eve. He had red lipstick smeared all over the bottom of his face a la Bozo the Clown. He looked like a drag queen victim from one of those Friday the 13th movies. If he had been the real Miss America, I am sure many of us would have given up our U.S. citizenship to go back where we came from!

I was once again elected unanimously to lead us into our traditional conga line. I said okay, but announced that, unlike last year, I was not going to stop the dancing to organize rescue efforts for any drunk who felled into the pool. Somehow, they managed to stay dry.

Sadly, we did have a near drowning later on. My dog Max (aka Frito Bandido because he steals food) was pilfering a hot dog from the buffet table when one of the great aunts turned, was startled and shrieked in his face. The dog freaked out, turned tail, ran amok and felled right into the pool still chomping on the hot dog. He would have been just fine if we had left him alone to swim out on his own. But no!!! I screamed that my baby was drowning, the kids jumped in to save him, thereby splashing all over him and grabbing every inch of his wet fur, the parents screamed and dove in after the kids, and it took 10 times as long to fish the poor dog out. As soon as he was on firm ground, Max ran to cower under my wheelchair, and promptly puked at my feet. He now needs the services of a therapist to get over his fear of water and screaming old women. He lost his dignity and his patriotic bandanna. And he also needs a dye job. He went into the pool a lovely golden blonde and came out platinum from all the chlorine.

After eating, the women gathered to exchange recipes and the men gathered to plan, yet again, the liberation of Cuba. Even the Pakistani offered suggestions. This so endeared him to the crowd that he was gifted with a pair of maracas. Heads up, Chicago! On its way to you is is a bongo-playing Pakistani with maracas shouting Cuba Si, Castro No! His wife has recipes to make flan and black beans and rice. So be afraid, Chicago! Be very afraid!

The rest is a blur of food, music, dancing, laughing, hugging and kissing.

I told DH I was never taking the ring off. He said I had to for sleeping, or I might accidentally turn in my sleep and slash his face. I told him if that happen it would not be an accident and he could get himself a hockey goalie mask and sleep in that. He said it might freak out the dogs.

It wonÂt. The dogs have seen us both naked and havenÂt freaked out from that so theyÂd be fine.

Hope you all had a glorious 4th as well!

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Thank you for sharing Marlen's wonderful story.
I miss her so much and always stand a little straighter when I see our American flag and hear our National Anthem.
And her recipes were the best.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 8:15PM
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Great to read this again. Thanks so much for posting it, San.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 9:10PM
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I keep this on my computer so read it often.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 8:43AM
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Never fails.....every July 4th I think of Marlen and this fabulous story. Thanks for posting it again.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 11:19AM
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