The author's story
What is fair is something that absorbs the imagination of many young children, and for that matter, many women and men. When we look
back at the Underground Railroad running between the United States
of America and Canada, women were often the agents of justice –
people who helped refugees. Their justice was not the justice of the
law enacted by those who had made it to the top, the people in power. No, the justice of mercy, the recognition that many people suffer far beyond what might be considered “their lot,” what in biblical terms was described as the rich trampling the poor and disadvantaged. Again, it was women who went to the poor areas of their cities to help the marginalized. In the late nineteenth century, many women became doctors and nurses, not for position or income, but to help the multitudinous sufferers within their own city limits.
What is fair took a big part of my perception of life around me from my
earliest days growing up in Texas. Perhaps my experience as a third
child made an impact as well! I was the one who got left behind when something exciting was happening. I was too little. In some cases,
I was little and female. Even though my mother was a pioneer as a married woman with children teaching in a university, I think she saw
it as financial necessity rather than her own personal development in
an area that gave her great pleasure and challenge and privilege. Her expectations for me allowed for work. Her own experience told her that. At her advice I took typing and stenography so that I had a way to earn
a living should I ever need to. Any vocation I looked at had to be
possible for a woman with children. This was a reality then, unless one chose to remain single and celibate, and going against societal opinion in that regard took very thick skin.
In my home, I learned that racism was wrong. I learned that anti-
semitism was cruel and unfair. As I look back, I think most of this came from my father's family, as my mother's kin were southerners and my
grandfather and great-grandfather at least were (to me) astonishingly racist. My father, whose surname was Speegle, worked for a while as
a door-to-door salesperson. He told us he learned to stick his foot in
the door and spell his name fast, or people would take him for a Jew
and refuse to speak to him. His grandmother came from Wisconsin and her earlier family from New York. One of my father's ancestors fought
on the Yankee side of the Civil War, a fact we did not bandy about much where we lived in north Texas. So there I was, a little southern girl with secret Yankee blood and influence. Now that I focus on that reality, it explains a lot about the conflicts I had even in my younger years.
Jump years into the future. My spouse Ed and I had moved to Canada.
We lived in a small French-Ukranian town in northern Alberta. After
five years of trying to become pregnant, we applied for adoption
through the provincial government. We did not stipulate a racial preference as that felt prejudicial towards children who might need
a family but then become excluded because of race. Not a surprise to
the locals, but we were astonished, two First Nations babies were
placed in our home. The eldest was Cree, a Canadian tribe, and the second Blackfoot. Out of a kind of naive idealism, Ed and I were on
the brink of discovering a depth of racism more horrible than we could ever imagine, an education that is still happening and will take up
more than the life I have left to absorb, and I will never comprehend it.
When you promise infants that you will love them forever, you take on
all the hurts and injustices they will experience. Of course, new in Canada, we did not know about the government's assimilation plan
and the “70's Scoop” in which agents were placing as many children in white homes as they could manage. Our intention was to make our-
selves available for children in need of a family. Lots of people wanted white children, so we widened our view.
When the children were in elementary school now in Edmonton,
Alberta, I became a staff person for Ten Days for World Development,
an education program on the development of poor countries, I came across a news story from El Salvador of a campesino father escaping from his government's army and facing the choice of which of his two small children to take across a large river first. I could just taste his agony, and I began to read about what was happening in El Salvador
and other countries like Nicaragua and Guatemala. Not only was life unfair for many people in my own country, but also across the world.
The novels I have written come out of my own experience. Conversa-
tions with Amelia draws on my childhood in Texas and life as I ob-
served it, my fascination with Amelia Earhart as a woman who did
not follow the pattern of femininity I knew – that of the southern
belle and without rebellion in the way of Scarlett O'Hara. An annual news story of a young woman from my home town who disappeared
also had impact. Like Hannah's friends in this story, I grew up going
to a university laboratory school and some of my friends were
daughters of faculty members at the local college.
That this story is a mystery of sorts arises from the mysteriousness of childhood, from looking back and wondering what the realities were
in that time when I was a child making my way toward the adult world.
SYMBOLS OF COMPASSION AND HEALING
From Conversations with Amelia, the bluebonnet has the shape of
a woman's sunbonnet. Without a sun-bonnet or cap, if you were working outside in the heat of the Texas summer, you could suffer
Every social justice movement that I know of has come out of people sitting in small groups, telling their life stories, and discovering that other people have shared similar experiences. -- Gloria Steinem
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/gloria_steinem_690613?src=t_justice
From my coming novel, Magnificat: Song of Justice, the Guanacaste Tree
has healing properties, and as well protects people
from the heat of the sun. The tree is also called the Ear-pod Tree and the Monkey Ear Tree.
Site made in Canada