I made it, you made it
Emilie Kefalas | Thursday, January 29, 2015
I would like to thank you for being here. It is truly an honor and accomplishment that you, in fact, are here. Think about that for a moment.
If you are reading this, you are alive, which means you survived thousands of hurdles in your existence, including but not limited to variations of sickness or injury. In order for you to be here at all, your ancestors needed to be healthy and attractive enough to mate and pass along a genetic code, the key to your identity.
Author Bill Bryson describes this concept with much more witty eloquence than I, in his brilliant and brief science book, “A Short History of Nearly Everything.” I first heard his opening comments about the miracle of being when I was in 7th grade and my dad continuously played the audiobook. Of all the phenomenal writing in Bryson’s piece, his idea that each individual’s existence is an achievement generations in the making awed me.
I have since reflected and researched moments in my family history leading up to my birth during which my leaf on the family tree could very well have never grown. In an ode and tribute to my blessed life, I recount two specific points on my ancestral timeline my existence hung in the balance of decision and destiny.
The first involves my great-grandfather, my dad’s Papou (Greek for grandfather). He proudly served his beloved country of Greece in World War I. During his service, he lost his left leg, and nearly bled to death. If not for a passing British soldier, he would have remained and eventually become another casualty count. “This man is alive,” the British soldier exclaimed, surprised to find my great-grandfather visibly conscious.
Had my great-grandfather died in the Great War, my YiaYia (Greek for grandmother) would not have been born. Without YiaYia, my dad would not have been conceived. My mom would never have met him, and I would probably have blue eyes and no interest in world history.
My mom is adopted, and that is the extent of how much I know about her true roots. She has neither searched nor cared to learn about her birth parents. I have since been engaged in a continued guessing game of her lineage. What I do know is she was adopted in 1960’s South Side Chicago, a predominantly Irish-Catholic neighborhood.
Regardless of if I ever pursue the discovery of my mom’s ancestry, I will always be thankful to her birth parents, whoever they are, for giving her life.
And that’s all I need to know for now.
I know it took nothing less than a couple miracles to get me here, but I made it to now 2015. I made it. You made it. You are here, reading this. Never forget how good and great it is you are here.