All in the family

Posted By | June 23, 2008 12:00 am

I just had the most amazing experience, and it was one I will not soon forget!
Woody and I ventured to McKinney, Texas, just outside of Dallas, to visit our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.
June 15 was Jeremiah’s first birthday, and Meredith, our daughter, wanted us to be there for the celebration. Kat (or Kathryn, if you want to be proper) will be 16 in July. So, needless to say, there’s a big gap between the two offspring. Kat hovers over the rambunctious toddler as if he were own child.
Seeing the grandkids was great. Seeing Meredith was wonderful. And, as always, getting a great big bear hug from my son-in-law Jerry is extra special. However, I have to admit this trip was even more wonderful than I had anticipated.
Four of Jerry’s five sisters were also visiting, all of whom are in their 40s and 50s. According to our daughter, the sisters had wanted to meet us for a long time, and now they would finally get their wish. We had already been told about their high energy level and the powerful love that exists between all the siblings. Upon arrival, Woody and I began the adventure of a lifetime!
We were greeted at the airport by our son-in-law and sister Linda. To say this woman is drop-dead gorgeous is an understatement! Her long, medium-dark hair, with blonde highlights, hung beautifully across her shoulders. She came running toward us with arms wide open. Her picture-perfect smile made us feel so welcome into the realm of new family members. (Oh, and also, her figure was “to die for!”)
When we arrived at our final destination, the three remaining sisters greeted us with the same warm smiles and hugs that had been given to us by Linda.
Wow! So much love combined with so much beauty – there should be a law against that! Just kidding!!
Then came the feast of all feasts. Linda had prepared one of her specialties, which consisted of all kinds of tasty ingredients combined with rice and rolled up in grape leaves. Now, sometimes I’m a rather picky eater, but this time I almost had to be forced to stop consuming this fantastic meal.
Afterward, Linda and the oldest sister treated us to one of their favorite dances to the tune of a beautiful piece of music. And, oh by the way, the oldest sister sang to me on the way to church Sunday morning. Wow – it was simply breathtaking!
Linda, who has been a hairdresser for more than a quarter-century, had already planned to give me a “new look.” I insisted on paying for the supplies, but she firmly said “no.” I didn’t argue. My son-in-law told me I looked five years younger. However, that’s still up for debate. The third sister, Becky, presented me with earrings and a matching necklace.
Sister number four, Debbie, kept me laughing most of the time, especially when we tried to get her to dance with Linda and the oldest sister. Deb said, “Just give me a little hip-hop!” She’s a hoot! We decided she must be part mermaid because she stayed in the pool almost all day, every day, while we were there.
The oldest sister, who is only two years older than me, would sometimes disappear upstairs. When we asked where she was, one of the other girls would reply, “She’s probably upstairs reading her Bible.” How great!
And do you know why that was so great? I know reading the Bible is always wonderful. But in this case, it took on an extremely special meaning – just the same as did the dancing and all the other glorious experiences we had during our brief stay.
All four of these sisters were born in Iraq. The Daoud girls were part of six children who escaped with their parents from a country where Saddam Hussein was soon to take over as ruler of their homeland. Their father, who was a well-respected carpenter, declared he would not allow his two sons to be killed under the dictatorship of such an evil man. So, in the mid-1970s, a mother and father left Iraq with four daughters and two sons. One daughter chose to remain behind with her husband. The ninth child, Jerry Tomas Daoud, is my son-in-law. He was born in the United States after his family had survived at least two years of political asylum in Lebanon and a short stay in Greece, before being able to come to America.
These four women, the Daoud sisters, love America – and yes, they are Americans! As Najle, the oldest said, “God has been very good to us.”
As she pulled her Bible from her purse, I saw a meeting of the two separate cultures that had formed her into the grateful individual she is.
“Here is Genesis,” she said, as she turned to the back of the Bible.
I quickly saw this was no ordinary Bible. I was looking at the Holy Bible, just like the one I have in my home, with one noticeable difference. The scripture was written in Arabic. Wow! What a humbling experience!
This woman was 22 years old when she took a leap of faith to leave her homeland. She left behind her husband who would join her two years later.
Linda, who was about 11 at the time, will intersperse some Arabic with her English when talking with her oldest sister. You know, it’s really a beautiful language! Every now and then Becky and Debbie will do the same. Both of these girls also have Arabic names that I would not even attempt to spell. When asked how they became “Becky” and “Debbie,” they told me a young neighbor girl renamed them because she decided their Arabic names were too hard to pronounce. Becky and Debbie said they love their Arabic names, but the American names have simply stuck with them all these years.
As Najle related the family’s exit from Iraq, I could hear the strong emotion in her voice about her love for her parents and how she grieved when each one died.
Thanks, girls, for making us part of your family! I loved your special dancing, and I especially loved Najle’s singing in Arabic.
So, when you think about our soldiers who are fighting in Iraq, please remember this family. They, too, are Americans who love their country.

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