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David

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My immigration story is one of coming full circle, of having returned home. The phrase “Welcome Home” surrounds my body, my heart, and my soul as I put fingers to keyboard to ponder my life as an immigrant. It is in this very story that I write, in which I clearly hear my grandfather Castor saying “Welcome Home David, Welcome Home my Grandson, and most importantly ‘Welcome Home my friend.” I feel incredibly grateful, and blessed. A huge load has been lifted from my heart, and from my soul. But why, and how did this come to be?

Well, I’ve always felt, simply put, that home is where the heart is, it’s where my family is. Home is where my wife, and kids are. Home isn’t a particular place, or location. I’ve lived in a number of different towns, and cities around the United States spreading east, to west – north, to south. They all felt, in some way like home. The idea of not having roots, and not knowing my past has never really bothered me. Or, maybe it did, or maybe it didn’t – lets find out.

So where did this story begin? It began with a very simple request from a friend who simply asked me to write a personal immigration story for an on line project. I told him that I didn’t have a personal immigration story. I thought to myself “heck, I didn’t even know where my own two brothers were born until a few months ago.” My friend replied by asking me to write a story about not having a story. He said “that is the story! ”Huh, who says that? Who asks you to write a story about the fact that you have no story? I thought about it. I agreed, and my life changed forever.

Despite the fact that the original draft of this story focused on my “non story,” I couldn’t resist the urge to execute a quick search of my grand mothers last name. Wow, to my surprise, it revealed a full-length article about my grandfather who passed away in 1968. I was just four years old at the time. He was a Lutheran minister. The article was an historical perspective celebrating, what would have been Granddaddy Castor’s 116th birthday - July 28, 2017. The story was titled “Pastor Castor.” I’ve always felt a very special bond with my Granddaddy Castor. He baptized me in Harrisonburg, VA, in 1964.

“Pastor Castor was born, grew up, and attended college in North Carolina. His relatives have lived in NC since the early 1700’s. It turns out that my ancestors have been in North Carolina for centuries, as generations upon generations of Castors have lived, worked, gotten married, raised families, and have died in NC. There’s also a town called New Bern, NC that’s in the same exact location where my ancestors landed when they first arrived in this country from Bern, Switzerland.

But, why would all of this be of particular interest to me at this time in my life? Why was it such great news that generations of my family had settled in North Carolina? What did this have to do with me being home? What did this all add up to? Well, guess what… my wife and I unknowingly, moved a year and a half ago from Southern California to yes, you guessed it… to none other then the great state of North Carolina to a town very close to New Bern– holy smokes!!

We moved there because my wife’s sister, and her husband were transferred to NC in 2015 from Texas. We moved to NC to be closer to our east coast families. There were no special ties to North Carolina other then the fact that my wife would be closer to her sister. This move was just like all of our other moves, or so I thought… until I realized, that through the writing of this story, I have, in deed arrived home. My family is much larger then I ever could’ve imagined. I’m living on the same sacred ground as my ancestors have lived for centuries!

And so, thanks to the “Pastor Castor “article, I’ve now learned that my ancestors were from Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and Switzerland with a great many of them having settled in NC, where my wife and I now live. I join them with great excitement, joy, and with a settled heart, and a mended soul.

I’m all too aware of a daily swirl, of an echo that vibrates throughout my body. It comes from my granddaddy castor. I hear him saying “Welcome Home David, Welcome Home my Grandson, and most importantly ‘Welcome Home my friend!”