© 2008, Wanda L. Harrell
Far too often, Americans forget we live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” We tend to take what we call the simple things of life for granted. Caroline Nhamoinesu takes nothing for granted. Born in Zimbabwe, her life has been wrought with the differences between living and existing, feast and famine, joy and heartbreak, and last, but not least, life and death.
Several years ago, her eldest son got the opportunity to fulfill his childhood dreams. He was going to make the journey and transition to the United States of America. His name, Thulani, is Zulu for be silent, and that’s exactly what Caroline did as she watched in quiet pride as her Thulani boarded the plane to his future.
Caroline prayed constantly for Thulani's safe journey and a happy future. Half a world away from Zimbabwe and everything he had ever known, Thulani’s first glimpse of America was The Statue of Liberty. And his first taste of our country was a $7 hotdog in the airport as he waited to board another plane for Houston and extended family.
Thulani’s dreams were coming true . He was finally standing in America amongst real Americans, not the ones he had watched on television back in Zimbabwe. Quickly, he dropped the silent “h” in his name, adjusted to the American way and eventually, wound up working and living in Atlanta, Georgia.
A couple of years ago, Tulani, the American, made another dream come true . He brought his mother from faraway Zimbabwe to America for a three-month visit. Caroline had only been to surrounding countries, but never out of Africa. She quietly and proudly watched as her eldest son maneuvered through heavy traffic to his apartment. Drinking in the sights of Atlanta, this tiny woman was in awe at the size of buildings, roadways, cars and everything her eyes beheld in this new land.
Caroline had carefully chosen her best to wear for the flight, but her best was in sad shape. One of the first things Tulani set about was taking her shopping for new clothes and shoes. Delighted beyond words, she twirled around the living room like a giddy schoolgirl.
A few days later, Caroline called her mother-in-law in Zimbabwe. Within earshot, but just out of sight was Tulani. He was listening as his mother said, “This morning I was so happy and proud as I watched Tulani walk out of his apartment, get into his car and drive away to his job.” Her son’s heart was touched as was mine when told the story.
Caroline Nhamoinesu had truly seen America and its myriad opportunities. More importantly, she appreciated the things we too often take for granted.