By Celine Leduc edited by Norman Simon
Two suitcases is all that is left of a life. For the Katbe family. One suitcase for the wife, the other for the husband. They had four sons: they loved them, taught them the ways of their world, educated them, and made sure they married well. The sons immigrated to Canada became Canadian citizens and yet have remained faithful to their country of birth and their parents. Their sons want the best for their parents.
They are from Syria and are Christians. Syria is imploding and exploding. Civil unrest creates a very unhealthy climate that degenerates into pandemonium, into civil war that turns into a full-fledged war. Bombs explode, homes become empty shells. A bomb falls on the shell of a deserted, abandoned home - a house explodes in thousand pieces. Whole streets turn into rubble; the man-made tornado of war circles around like a hawk looking for food. Those warmongers are hungry for power, for control. They kill the innocent, the unprotected, for a piece of land, for greed, as they are hungry for power and control so they can claim victory, plant a black flag tainted with the blood of those who died. Their victory is built on death, the death of the innocent regardless of religion or culture. Warmongers are warmongers - they worship the god of war, of destruction, the god of hell, for their bombs create hell on earth.
Two suitcases for survival linking the peaceful happy past with the traumatizing insecurity of the present and the uncertain, traumatizing future. They have to leave their home as war rages on, a civil war erupted, and a new enemy emerges making their flight an imperative. They flee war to find safety and hopefully be able find peace and join their children in Canada. A stopover in Lebanon, a visit to the Canadian Consulate to make an application for immigration in order to become residents of the country chosen by their sons, their wives and their grandchildren.
Family reunification is the order of the day, reunited families is on their minds. War has caused division that ripped families apart, forced some to flee to refugee camps full of horror and fear, where intolerance is the weapon of choice and brutality becomes the reality as life rarely matters and death is the release.
At 80, the old couple think what they should bring. What matters is legacy. They leave behind their locked up home; and, key in hand, they say farewell, not goodbye as they are hoping to come back soon.
Two suitcases are packed carefully; two suitcases, hopefully, a short stay at a relative’s home in Lebanon. They are lucky they can avoid the danger of the camps. They have family in Lebanon, a house to stay at for an ailing father and an aching worried mother. They make their way to Lebanon, leaving their home near Aleppo for a dream of life in Canada to spend their last days with their sons. The sons want them and work for their parent’s safety. Personal tragedy, their father is ill very ill; his dream of return is but a dream his death is a nightmare for his mom. She is a widow, without a husband to care for her to make sure she can be protected. She has her sons, four sons, who now are head of the family. Their duty is to do for their mother what their father can no longer do: care for her, make sure she is protected and fulfill the dream of going to Canada.
In her nightmare, her grief, she has a dream: she can be a grandmother and a doting mother to her loving sons. Her sons, all Canadians, have jobs, and make a pact, a promise, a pledge: their mom will not be alone. They will come stay with their mom for two months each. Petition the Canadian government to fast-track the refugee claimant, so their loving and beloved mom can come to Canada as a resident.
The two suitcases were packed with love and are the keepers of the past, are for the present and open the door to the future. Legacy and origins matter. You can see that past matters by the content of their suitcases. Two lives packed in the suitcases filled with papers, birth and marriage certificates and last will and testament. Photos of their wedding, their children which is the legacy of their children growing up in Syria for their grandchildren living now in Canada. The other part is their clothes and travel items. One person now has the two suitcases full of memory with one wish, one hope, to be reunited with family.
We hear of men doing evil deeds. They thrive on hate, create hell for all those living on earth. Yet, there is another reality which is love, the love of a son towards his mom, and the love of a mother for her sons. War causes not only confusion, but also hate, anger, division, unrest, and even death. Families are broken: fathers are killed, mothers abused, and children see what they should not see or feel. War can also bring about the reunification of a family - especially in Canada where we as Canadians pride ourselves because of our humanitarian principles. We offer refuge to those who have none. There is a fear of invasion or radicalization, of unrest and uprising. An old woman of 80 is not threat to security. She saw war, she lived through it, and she now wants a few final years to dote on her loving sons and grandchildren.
Her sons will not forsake her as they live the commandment to "honor thy parent." They will leave their own wives and children to go and stay with their mom in Lebanon. In those two months, the sons make sure they have enough money to care for their home in Canada, pay bills, feed their family over here. No salary coming in, living off savings. Money is not their motivation; it is family, it is life, a good life for their mother. The hope she will be there to be a doting grandmother, a mother-in-law and a mother.
On humanitarian grounds and for the love of family, of surviving love please help this family, and fast-track their humanitarian request. Make sure that a family is reunited out of love for an older woman with two suitcases, who has four loving sons.
Video from CTV that speaks Mrs. Katbe http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/laval-man-urges-ottawa-to-fast-track-widow-mother-s-arrival-1.2594435#_gus&_gucid=&_gup=Facebook&_gsc=i1OWgjS
UPDATE: Mrs. Katbe will be coming to Canada hopefully soon by the end of the year --- we ask that her application be fast tracked so she can be reuinited with her loving sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.