Once upon a time, not too long ago, there was a place called America.
Almost everyone knew about this place. People came from far and wide to see it. Many who heard about it or visited wanted to stay forever! There was something almost magical about it.
America was beautiful. It had majestic mountains and emerald green valleys. Oceans and rivers, lakes and bays teeming with fish, and skies filled with birds. There were deserts and forests and beaches. Places where children could play and adults could raise families. There were big cities with skyscrapers and small towns with village squares.
And there were all kinds of people. So many colors, languages, customs and foods! A “melting pot” some called it.
It was not a perfect place. But its inhabitants believed that if they worked hard and worked together, they could make it better. There would be no finer place to live than America!
“What happened to this place, Mother?” the children asked, looking up from the book with the beautiful pictures. “Oh”, said the Mother, sadness in her voice and tears in her eyes. “For some strange reason, the people stopped taking care of it. They put smoke in the skies and poison in the water. They no longer cared for the animals. They let their cities and towns crumble. And they began to fight with one another. Until, after a time, there was no longer peace or beauty. People no longer wanted to visit or stay. And those who remained were angry and sad.”
The children began to cry. “Why, Mother, why would they do that? What happened to America?” She hugged her children and gave each one a tender kiss.
“It’s gone, I’m afraid. Not much left except pictures and the stories told by some who remember it. Now, time for bed. Go brush your teeth.”
The children did as they were told. They were good children, loved and loving. The Mother worked hard to make sure it was that way.
She stood up, holding the book close to her heart, and walked over to place it on the shelf that held her other precious possessions. Running her hand over them, she picked up the little Statue of Liberty her Grandmother had given her many years ago when she told her the stories and read to her from the book.
Carole Leskin is a retired Director of Global Human Resources. Embarking on a second career as a writer and photographer concentrating on her personal accounts of aging, her essays and poetry, frequently accompanied by her photos, are published in Jewish Sacred Aging, Jewish Women of Words, Starts At 60, Navigating Aging ( a Kaiser Health publication), Women’s Older Wisdom, Time Goes By and Next Avenue. Her poems, “Father Time” and “Carole’s Debate” were selected for inclusion in the 2019 anthologies of poetry, New Jersey Bards. Her photos have been featured in Mart R Porter Nature Forum.