Homegrown Hollywood: Searching for Family in All the Wrong Places showed up this morning in my Weekly Genealogist magazine. It's a short and sweet story of a woman's efforts to learn about the grandmother she never knew. I'm linking to it here because it epitomizes what our country so desperately needs.
A writer from Los Angeles travels to a small town in North Carolina and meets a distant cousin who might as well live on a different planet for all they have in common ... on the surface.
She welcomed us with a warm drawl and a tight hug. We sat on her couch as she told us stories and pulled out pictures. The longer we stayed, the happier I felt and something calmed inside of me.
The author wasn't the only one who'd had doubts about the cultural differences.
"Let me tell you, honey," she drawled in her thick accent. "I was nervous about meeting ya'll, but as soon as I saw you I thought, 'now there is blood kin.' And then everything was different."
The key to healing our fractured nation is real people. Not stereotypes, not Hollywood depictions, not news stories, but real, physical people who have families and serve dinners and smile at strangers.
She was right. Everything was different.
I had been trying to reach my grandma through gravestones and houses and hats I'd put on in a dusty old attic.
But where I'd actually found her was in people like Shelvie Jean.
Hope for healing lies outside our bubbles.