Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Big moment in NYC
Whew. I actually made it, breathless and jittery to the 55th Annual Jane Addams Children's Book Awards presentation, across from the United Nations. Rickshaw Girl won in the Honor Books for Older Children category and author Mitali Perkins gave a memorable acceptance speech, acknowledging her family heritage and God, "author of MY story."
I had not written a speech, assuming I would follow Mitali, who would say everything in the best way possible,and I could simply say, thank you. But of course, I got going, and got choked up. Couldn't help myself: the story of unconditional love between a father and a daughter who struggles beyond the limits of her culture, testing what a girl is allowed to do in rural Bangladesh, always moves me. My father had to be content with two daughters, but he never made me feel second rate.
Mitali's story is from the heart, from her family legacy, and any kid can relate, anywhere in the world, to that kind of love. Then, I realize how much I miss my father in that moment. One significant legacy of a loving dad is the model for a good husband.
And mine was in the audience, with our daughter. They were not the least bit fazed that I got emotional.
Here are three beloved daughters....
The very cool thing was learning more about Jane Addams, the founder of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1915, and the first U.S. female winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. And now I have a doll!
The enormity of the event continues to settle, while I ponder ideas of peace, justice, and freedom, how we model these in our lives, families, and communities. The following day, we headed out on the Staten Island Ferry, to view the mother of American symbols, the Statue of Liberty. I found myself getting choked up again feeling such deep blessings and privileges of freedom, and all those who have died for it.
We didn't get too close, but seeing was believing. Believing in freedom so big it can still fit in the palm of your hand, and always be held inside, with honor and gratitude.
Thank you, Jane Addams, for all you represent and model for today's activists. It can be done. Thank you, Mitali, for your gifts of story and meaning. Thank you, Charlesbridge, for letting me draw that Bangla world onto the page. And thanks to my family, for believing in me, even when my voice breaks!