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way. Welcome once again to the complicated story. Here's your podcast. Host Alan Brooks, today's guest to Cheryl Kirk. It's and she has had a very interesting life. Cheryl has written a memoir called Sentiment, which is about her family's journey from Slovenia and growing up here in America. Cheryl, welcome to the complicated burrito.
So you were raised in Chicago, but your family came from Slovenia. Is that correct? Yes. What year did they migrate from Slovenia?
Uh, within the was in the early twenties. Um,
grandmother was born in 1900 so she was in the early twenties. They came, my grandparent's came separately, and, uh, they and then they ended up with a new each other in the old country. But they ended up marrying here later on. So that was when they came.
So, uh, you were raised by your grand parents. Is that correct?
Well, well, we all lived. We all lived in the same house. We My grandfather was a mason, and he built a lot of homes in the Chicago area, and he, uh So we, um my dad and after he got married, they moved in my mom and dad moved in with them and they looked up stairs. We had a little apartment upstairs. Uh, that was part of the house. And so and then my aunt uncle also lived, uh, lived in the same house for a while while they built a house of my grandfather. Built the house for them after they got married. My my dad had one sister, and she and his wife were there at the same time. That was a very crowded and lively family situation there. And that's that's where I was born. So
And then we lived. We lived with them for, uh, my 1st 5 years. And then my father, uh, had a, uh, professor who saw some promise in him, and so he encouraged him to go to medical school. So while my father was in medical school, we lived. We lived with my grandparents, and we drove across country to Spokane, Uh, Washington. And he did an internship. And then we moved back to Illinois after that year. And then we lived with my aunt, my uncle and their family for, uh, for a year. Well, my dad and my grandfather built a house in Villa Park for for us. So, um, so that so we were moving around a lot. We lived. We lived a family for from most of my life until we moved up to Oregon.
Now you've got a bachelors bachelor of arts degree. Is that correct?
Well, yes. And I have. Ah, And then later on in my life, um, I I went to school, and I, uh, I went to school and became a social worker, so I was L C s W. And I work in a mental health facility.
So in 1993 you went back to college and got your MSW degree.
And that is a master of social work.
Yes. Right? Yes.
So you spent the next 16 years working as a chauffeur. A social worker.
16 years? Yep.
Yep. Yeah, it was. It was interesting. I worked at, uh, she's coming their health. And they didn't have a program in Bend. I lived in Bend, Oregon, and I still live in Bend, Oregon. And so I would I would go up on the bus every week for three years and, uh, take the bus up to Portland. That's about uh, five hour bus ride, and then I would go to school and I do my homework on the way back on the bus, and then, uh, and then, uh, then I be home for the weekend, and then I go back again. So I was doing that because they didn't like it is now. They have since the incident thing in bends, but they didn't then. So, um, so then after I got there was Captain, I found a job at the county mental health.
Now, what made you decide to go into social work?
Well, I guess maybe because of my background, I, uh my, uh um, just just a lot of things that happened in my life that that were pretty eventful. And so I I just felt like I wanted to help people and do something that meant something to me.
Well, that's very amazing. Now, when you write in your book, did you go back to Slovenia?
I did. My, um my, uh uh, dad, I talked my dad into he, you know, he kind of He always kind of had to deal with, uh, feeling for Siri already about being Ah, uh from about his immigrant family, and, uh, so he would always kind of lawful back and forth between, um wanting to get away. I think I think he moved out to Oregon just to get away from that in a way. But he always maintained his relationships with his family and Slovenian friends and in the Chicago area. But But he you know, he really had struggled with that, I think. And so, uh, so that's, you know, that was that was a problem for him, I think. And so there were a lot of things that, you know, that he had to deal with. But he was so, um, full of life, he would even the real character and he he just was kind of a maniac, I and so growing up with him, it was it was always an adventure. And he was he loved life. He and then he he, uh he maintained friends, you know, his friendships with his family of origin for forever. But he, you know, he wanted he wanted to escape it. In some ways,
if I'm answering the question, your question, but but But he Yeah, he was He was an interesting person. A very interesting father to have. Not perfect for sure.
When your grand parents originally came over here, they didn't speak English shirt, right?
No, not at all. Not one word? No.
So that had to have been a real struggle for them. Tow overcome?
Yeah, it was. And well, in my in, my grandfather was 15 when he ah, was, you know, he was in the war and he was in a prison of war camp. Um, yeah, yeah, he had to deal with some real difficult times there, and and my grandmother as well that I mean, it was just the first World War was difficult for for Eastern Europeans. And it wasn't as bad as Jewish people what they had to do with in the, uh, you know, in the well in the second World War, but my my other wrote my relatives that stayed back there. They they had, um they had to deal with what was going on in the Second World War. And I think 10% of the people in Sylvania were murdered during that time. You know, they were they were just gone. So, um, so I like my grandparents had a hard time before they came over here, and it was it was difficult. And now Sylvania is in the European Union. And so
think they're doing a lot better.
Yeah, I wouldn't did some research, and it's a beautiful country.
Hey, it's a beautiful country. I was. And then I went over. I went over my dad and my aunt local. Um, I'm the one I told my dad. I said, I really want to go. And, uh, and my and my aunt, his sister, uh, had to talk him into it because he just wasn't that interested. But after he went over there was just wonderful. I We stayed with a part of the time we stayed with, uh, Catholic priest. Janko was my dance first cousin, and, uh, he was just a wonderful person. Uh, so we stayed with him, and we showed it took us all the relatives he took us to see, You know, all the things he thought were interesting to see there. And, uh and and then I went also went over later, wrong with my daughter. And she was she was there. You think she was about 20 when we went over there. And, uh, and And we went to it through Italy as well. And, um, Italy. And we went, We went back again, so I went to different times.
That's exciting. That's exciting. How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I have one brother and two sisters.
So your book Cinnamon is available on Amazon. Am I correct?
Yes. And I think Barnes and Noble as well I also have a second book. Um, I called love poems and obsession. I just want to mention that I wrote that, uh, I wrote that after my parents died. They died in 12 4013.
I was going through, I went up to my brother. He lives in the same time I do. And I was looking for photos for my book sentiment. And I found there was a photo album there that he that he had from my parents because we had to take things out after they passed away. And I found, um, I found this photo album and I thought that's what was in there. But it was a poem that my dad had written to my mother over 50 year period. Just from the time they got the time they got married until about the year 2000. Father wasn't able to do that anymore. So I wrote, I wrote I have a book of his poems, but I also talk about how they relate to my interpretations of their of their love story. And he writes that he never expected that anyone would maybe read those. Except for my mother. They were just basically for my mother, but they were so heartfelt, and so they really portrayed the relationship that my parents had. So that's kind of a sequel in a way to on the first book.
Oh, that's really neat. I bet you're just shocked. When you found those poems,
I couldn't believe it. I mean, my dad would always say You would always say that, that he wrote poems for my mother and, um, and then we had a special place at the organ post that we that we would go to. He discovered it one day running along the beach out. When we were, we were staying in a different place and he said, Oh, this is the end, just the wonderful. It's just a wonderful retreat so So, um, he would write poems. They had guest books in in there, and they keep the guestbook there still. I mean, I can still go to this particular place and see some of my dad's poetry in the guest books, but I copied. I mean, I took photos of a few of those that were at the, um the hotel there. Probably a hotel. It's almost like it was two houses put together, and they, uh it's up on a cliff and and they in their grilled, funky little apartments. But anyway Ah, he, um there were problems there, So I knew he wrote me. I knew he wrote poems to my mother and I was able to read those at the time because they were in the books. But I had no idea that he had written, you know, all these poems to her for for some years.
a big surprise.
Now, were they in English or in Slovenia?
in English, but apart. Slovenian is the language of laws. And, you know, some people say old Italian, the language of love, and I think it is, too. But Sylvania is is called the language of love because of that of the way it is. Um, just the way the language is set up, So it's ah, it's a more intimate way of expressing things in that language. So, uh, he I think that the way he wrote in the way he, um, express himself was because he had a combination of different languages and he knew And he also knew Italian because we were right on the border between Italy and and in northern Italy and bustle Vania. And so some of my relatives actually, uh uh, first were earlier on in some place called for on a near Verona, Italy. And so, um, so there's some some relation to that as well. So
why? Well, well, you have an amazing story and you've had an amazing life. Your family's journey from Slovenia to America is really interesting. Your book sentiment, it also details the many dynamics of living in a large family. You want to tell our listeners a little bit about that?
Well, I really I think they're really focused in a way. I mean, I wasn't thinking I was going to do that, but as I was just kind of pouring things, reporting out of my heart in my mind, I talked a lot about generational trauma And how, uh, family Terry generational trauma and how it plays out. And, uh, and also just about, um, you know, having you know, it's important to have an exuberant and interesting life, if you possibly can. That's I guess that's my message.
One thing I really like about the book is the way you connect the dots on many different levels about family dynamics in general. What did you tell our listeners? A little bit more about that?
Yes. It's about a family relationships, too,
how complicated it can be and how important they are.
The human experience, if you will. Yeah. Yeah. Well, Cheryl, thank you so much for being on our podcast today. I really enjoyed talking to you, and I'm sure that our listeners air going to really enjoy reading your book sentiment. A memoir, Cheryl. Thank you.
Thank you. Okay. Thank you. Bye
bye. All right. That was a really great interview. I want to urge you all to go out and get Cheryl's book Cinnamon and memoir. It's available at Amazon and other online locations. on behalf of Rev. 0 24 radio. This is Alan Brooks for the complicated burrito. You're 24 hour music connection when you knew the best from across the globe.