"What are you doing for Yom Ha'atzmaut?"
"Going to the airport.. My parents are making aliyah!"
I had this conversation maybe 50 times in the past week, and every time I had the opportunity to say the words my excitement doubled. I couldn't stop smiling. I told everyone I knew, including bus drivers and pizza store guys, unable to contain my happiness.
The thing is, my parents are in Israel a lot. In the past few years, they've been here more then they've been in America. It felt as though they were living here already. I couldn't figure out exactly what it was that I was so excited about. What was changing?
My parents met in college. They were set up by a mutual friend, who got tired of hearing them both speak about Israel all the time and figured they should just talk to each other.
My mom was from Detroit, artsy and creative, interested in photography and guitar.
My dad was from West Virginia, still speaking with his southern twang, focused on studying for his tests and going to classes.
They didn't have much in common at first.
What they did share, immediately, was a passionate love for Israel.
They dated, fell in love, and got married. The plan was five years. Five years in the states, and then they'd pick up and move to Israel, make Aliyah, live out the dream. But life happens. A community happened. I happened. (And six other siblings before me, but they're not important here). My parents became an integral part of their neighborhood, they sent their kids to school, and the five year plan transitioned into a "someday dream". New plans came to the forefront. Graduations, weddings, grandchildren. Life was never boring. And then, slowly, one at a time, we all started making our way over here. In the span of 6 years, six out of seven of their children made Aliyah. The dream had been passed along, a fire that wasn't spoken about too often but consistently burned in our home.
Yesterday, on Yom Ha'atzamut, I waited with my siblings and their children at the airport for my parents to come out. We held Israeli flags and lots of signs, some that made more sense then others. And that feeling when I saw them walking through the sliding doors was like none other.
Because it's not just about some papers that declare your citizenship. It's not the Teudat Oleh that my father was holding so proudly, not the benefits or the free cab ride or any of that. It's the realization of a 40 year old dream. The dream that a young married couple had spun together in a little house in West Virginia, finally being actualized with their children and grandchildren around to see them do it.
I realized why this meant so much to me. Why this was more then just another trip, more then just an official acknowledgment that yeah, my parents visit a lot. Because I believe in dreams. I believe in the power of wanting something so much that you won't let the flame of your wish burn out. And now I have proof. It may take 42 years and 21 grandchildren until you see the fruition of what you've been working for. But I've learned from my parents a lesson that I'll never forget. You don't give up. You keep on working on what you want. And you'll get there.
I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to watch my parents live out their "someday dream".
Mazal Tov Mom and Dad!
I love you :)