Posts Tagged ‘Fargo

30
Mar
09

All That Comes With It

Fargo is my home. This admission has always invited jokes about the accent, the snow, the wind, height, Olle and Lina. Now this admission is a badge of honor. We’re all watching these floodwaters rising and we’re wondering how long they have. I’m sure many of us have questioned the stamina of sand bags. Miraculously, while the sandbags hold, so does the spirit of these people. There are no complaints, no cries of “unfair,” no calls for government entitlements. Everyone has come together to head this off. What we are not seeing on the news is that these people have worked tirelessly in freezing weather that those who live south of the Canadian border cannot relate to. They are wet, tired, and aching – young and old, but still they smile at their neighbors. When they finish their length of the levy, they move on to the next. In this situation, finished is not a word they recognize.

Life is difficult up north. The largely rural area is often looked down upon, but it is even more often underestimated. Heritage runs deep up there and there is such determination. When I posted the video earlier, I was shocked to watch it. I remember these places that are washing away. The best homes line the Red River. There was the bridge we used to cross to get to my grandmother’s house. It’s still standing strong, but it is so nearly submerged. Then Lindenwood Park. That was my favorite place in the whole world until I was about 15 and discovered skiing. Lindenwood park is where I learned to be a child and now it may all be gone.

Watching the video and looking at pictures of this devastation is like having visual proof that my childhood bliss has been taken, washed away in the floodwaters of adult responsibilities and obligations. As I have suspected, there is no going back. All that remains are the lessons learned and the heritage that taught them.

These people who sing while they stack sandbags are my heritage. The spirit that lies within them, pushing them to reinvent rugged individualism as everything changes around them, is in me, too, and of that I am fiercely proud. I have always known their strength. I have seen the farms and the work it takes to keep them running in sub SUB zero temperatures. I know my great-grandmother who got a college education in the early part of the century so she could make a good life for her and her son. I know of my great-great aunt who lived alone in one room so that she could finish high school to move away from the difficult life on those farms.

Childhood may be long, long gone, but what is left is determination and immeasurable strength. It was a gift given me by these people. Now, as the entire nation watches, it is a gift for everyone. A glimpse of what it takes to truly survive.

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