by Bryan Berkowitz
Oftentimes when my host mother would greet me, she would say, “Meu angel com olhos azuis.” My blue eyed angel. One of the things I had to become accustomed to was how my host mother displayed affection. On about day 3 of my living there my host mother began kissing me on the head and cheeks, and on roughly day 5 she felt comfortable enough slapping my rear, as she does to her grandchildren. At first, this made me very uncomfortable, but I soon became accustomed to it; it’s just who my host mom is and how she displays affection. I always knew my relationship with her was special, but I didn’t quite realize just how much I meant to her until she spoke these words to me. It all started with my host brother in law making a toast during Christmas dinner. He primarily toasted my host mother, Miriam, and told her how proud he was of her and how strong she’d been after losing her husband just months prior (only about three months before I arrived).
She later came to me, and thanked me. She said that she was going through a really hard and sad part in her life, and that I brought her so much pride and joy ever since I came into it, and that I was her angel with blue eyes. While I knew I was entering the house at a tough part in her life, I never knew just how much she was struggling because she was always so cheerful. It was incredibly touching. This was the moment I realized just what an impact I’d had on her life. I knew she loved me and I had an impact, but I failed to piece together our relationship and its timing, and how that made it all the more special. She’ll never forget that part of her life, and I was a part of it. The happy part. After that, she began calling me that regularly and would introduce me as such to friends and family with a smile on her face while caressing my head or gently lifting up my chin.
After entering my host family and hearing them often talk about the previous fellows they’d hosted, I was determined to be the favorite. And I’m proud to say that for our final dinner together when they were mentioning other fellows, I asked them who the best one was, and I had achieved my goal! I truly am going to miss my host family, and my host mother in particular, and it’s nice to know the feeling is mutual. Miriam took me to the airport and when we said goodbye, she had tears in her eyes, and then subsequently grabbed my hand and walked back with me to the group. It was incredibly sweet. We had said goodbye multiple times and she never left until I passed through the checkpoint and was no longer in sight. She even sat there on her phone while I spoke with my friends and staff, not wanting to leave until I was absolutely out of sight! She even said she would come to my graduation from Tufts.
Now my mother always tells me everything happens for a reason, and I tend to shake my head because I don’t really believe in that kind of thing. Now maybe Miriam and I did meet each other for a reason, or maybe the timing and everything was just a mere lucky coincidence. Either way, our relationship is incredibly special, and certainly had a large impact on the both of us. I know I’ve made a lifelong connection with my Brazillian family and they consider me part of their family as I do for them. It’s special to have this unique relationship and understand the impact I’ve made on their lives, in particularly Miriam’s. Even when you may think your life doesn’t matter that much, you never know just how many lives you’ve touched. And even touching one alone, that is worth living for.