Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Immigrant Legacy

“Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.”  Exodus 23:9

You never really think about the legacy you’re building or the place you’ll hold in family lore.  It’s all about the here and now, living in the moment.  But today I’ll reflect on the past and project into the future.  Perhaps I am becoming an existentialist. 

Or maybe not. 

I had to look existentialist up! 

Anyway, my uncle sent me the scanned photo up there the other night.  Hans and Hulda Foss - my great-great-grandparents on my mom’s side.  The boy in the middle is my great-grandpa, Alvin.  He is flanked by two of his brothers – Harris on the left, and Clifford on the right.  Yes, I know, Clifford doesn’t seem like a nice little girl’s name, but that was the custom of the day.  Why did they do that???  Clifford lived to be over 90 and liked tractors, so it must not have affected him too much. 

Hans and Hulda immigrated to this country from Norway.  They came by ship.  Not sure what their initial reasons were, but probably freedom, a better life, you know, typical immigrant ideals.  And then there were a lot of begets, and eventually I came to be, but the Norwegian tie has always been remembered.  My uncle’s name is distinctly Norwegian.  My grandpa can speak a few words of the language and has always held an affinity for all things Nordic.  I, myself, have tried my hand at making lefse.

Ok, so fast forward to yesterday… 

The hub says the last time he talked to his dad, his dad mentioned he wanted to come visit, so would I mind (once again) looking up what paperwork we needed to do to get the ball rolling on a visit?  Today I spent the morning perusing the Department of State’s website looking at forms regarding a visitor visa application. 

But if it were only that simple… 

When his mother wanted to come visit in 2006, she didn’t have enough “ties”, as determined by the consulate office, to sufficiently prove that she would NOT immigrate to this country, so she was denied a visitor visa.  We contacted our State Representative and got a nice “too bad, so sad” letter from the consulate office, but there was nothing else we could do on the visitor visa road.  BUT… since my husband is a US citizen, she did qualify for a green card which would allow her to visit and immigrate to this country.  Logic is not a strong point for immigration procedures, I have found.  We had to go through the entire process (and paperwork) of getting her a green card just to come visit. 

She stayed five weeks, hated it, and promptly returned home.  We’ve not tried to get her to come back over and really don’t know how that will work since her green card is in limbo since she didn’t immigrate.  Will she ever immigrate?  I don’t know. 

Any who, we’re hoping the hub’s dad has more “ties”.  It all depends on the opinion of the consulate officer who is conducting the interview.  My father-in-law has traveled extensively, most recently to India, and has always returned back to Russia, so we’re hoping this makes a difference.

So all this foreigner-immigration stuff has got me to thinking about the future.  Someday I’m going to be somebody’s great-great-grandma.  And there’ll probably be a picture of me somewhere with my kids and husband.  And the story will be “she married a Russian, and that’s why you’re part Russian.”  And maybe they’ll like fur hats, and maybe they’ll like nesting dolls, and maybe they’ll try making borscht. 

And maybe all my paperwork will not have been in vain!


  1. In Seattle, all the Tugboats had the FOSS name on the side. Any relation?

  2. I don't know. I'll have to check it out if I ever make it to Seattle. Although I'll probably forget and just head to the space needle.


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