Wednesday, February 20, 2013


It doesn’t really matter if immigration takes place because of war or persecution, or simply to try and give your children a better life. The mere act of migrating from the country of your birth to another means the migrant will forever be torn between two places; the one he loves because his roots are there and the one he loves enough to try and transplant himself.
I have lived with this duality for most of my life. I arrived in Canada as a child and I have grown to love and value being a Canadian. I have contributed to Canada's future by working hard and giving it two children, one grandchild, and over time, many tax dollars! I have buried loved ones here, made lasting friendships and traveled from coast to coast, appreciating our Canadian diversity and vastness and beauty at every turn. I am a proud ambassador of most of what Canada stands for and can get quite cranky when I hear unjust criticism of it.

But I admit freely that I have never lost my yearning for the light and the language and the music of my birth country, knowing full well that if I were magically transported there this very minute, I would feel like a total stranger. The country has moved forward without me and the span that has created can no longer be bridged.

What we immigrants really pine for is not so much a physical place as a moment in time that is long gone. This is why we get so excited when we stumble upon a restaurant that serves foods we grew up with, or hear a song in our mother tongue; it instantly transports us to all those lost moments and allows us a few seconds of reprieve from those feelings of permanent loss. One could say that to become an immigrant is to live in a permanent state of grief and that this dull ache becomes totally acceptable over time, as the positive aspects of the new chosen life, hopefully outweigh the negatives one has opted to leave behind.

I have been a proud Canadian for 50 years now but I know that I will forever long for a pocketful of memories that keep a certain light and language and music, alive in my soul.


  1. Your feelings on being an immigrant reflect my thoughts on the subject as well. I consider myself to be an American, but the yearning for my country of birth will remain within me forever. The U.S. has been my home for 64 years and I feel allegiance to it, but when I travel to Latvia, I call it "going home" though it bears no resemblance to the home I knew so long ago.

  2. I fell in love with the Welsh word hiraeth because it seems to describe just that sense of longing... It hits me in the spring here, when I catch of a whiff of something that smells like Turkey. Then when I'm there I miss here...