Recently I spent one month in San Diego where my children live. My beloved son Christopher, while we were finishing dinner together in the busy town on Valentine’s Day, took out his wallet to pay for the family. As I looked at his wallet made of cloth, it was so falling apart, broken, and dirty, I was wondering why he does not buy a new one. He said this wallet had so much value and meaning because it comes from an orphanage where he bought it and he wants to send it somewhere for repair because it is so special to him.
There are so many causes to care for, why an orphanage? Then it hit me, orphanage: the kids without parents. How can a child be without a mom and dad and not receiving the love he or she is longing for? When I was a child myself I always asked my Grandma Marie to tell me stories about her life in an orphanage in Lyon in France, where I guess her mom must have dropped her off for reasons we do not know.
In the summer when my Grandma was still a child, perhaps seven or eight years old, she would go to a family in the mountains of Savoie in “Les Côtes” by Saint Etienne de Cuines, and in exchange for helping to take care of the fields and animals she would receive room and board. After the summer it was time for her to go back by train and I believe one lady from the orphanage would come and wait for her at the train station in Saint Avre-La Chambre. This day Marie refused to board the train, clinging to this couple who took care of her during the summer, holding their coats and sobbing. No-one could persuade her to get on the train. This couple with already many kids decided to adopt her and they became her new family.
Her new brothers and sisters became close with her and I met many of them when I was a child and later their offspring. I heard they even gave her a dowry when she married my grandfather Jean Jamen, himself without a father. His mom had two children and the older one took care of Jean when his mom passed and was his only parent or witness for his wedding. They said that his father must have been an Italian man coming to France for work and had a love affair there in Monthion, a village close to Italy.
Even though my Grandma Marie was an adopted child coming from an orphanage, her adopted parents considered her as their most beloved child and she could be raised in a loving family with brothers and sisters. This was a great blessing for her.
The love of parents is one of the most precious of all. Parents do not keep grudges against their children, or bad feelings. They do not keep any record of wrong. Their love is infinite and eternal.
Much love to all of you,
Your friend Elisabeth