Our sister, Kathy, is bright, funny and never, ever boring. So, it wasn’t really surprising, several decades ago, when she announced to the family that she-who was not yet 40-and her husband-who could see 40 in the rear view mirror-had signed up for a 2-year stint in the Peace Corp. Were they looking for an exotic tropical island where they could check out the waves everyday-no, they were headed to Swaziland-a tiny country in Africa a few hundred miles inland from the Indian Ocean.
Kat’s letters described a rustic existence with few of the comforts we take for granted. But mostly she shared her observations about a gentle, loving community eager to embrace her. She was taught some of the core beliefs of that community shortly after she arrived in her new home. The day she unpacked a box of personal items, several local women were there to help. When she came upon a family reunion photo the women asked her to point out her children. She smiled and told them that she had no children-the women looked puzzled.
They began to count the many child in the photo-6-7-8. Again Kathy tried to explain. 9-10-11 they continued to count. “I have no children,” she said with firmness. 13-14-15-slowly Kat realized that these women understand perfectly what she was trying to say. And she realized what they were trying to say in response: your brother’s children are your children. Karen’s children were her children. My boys were her boys.
From that day, the women of the village called her what all women were called when they were surrounded by the love and connection of a large family, “Mother”.
In SiSwati, “Mother” is “Make”, pronounced Ma-gay.
So, let’s join in a united sisterhood and honor the Mother in each of us-the part of us that desires to nurture the world into a happier, kinder place for the children we love.
Here are some other photos I just had to share.