We all come from somewhere and our different stories make up this community that we have created at FHC. Here is an interview with one of our members, Helen Lafferty.
1. You are originally from Ireland. What brought you to the US and how long have you been a resident here?
I came from Ireland with my husband in 1986. We are both physicians, and we came to Boston to do some post-graduate training. We thought we were going to stay for three years but somehow ended up staying quite a bit longer than that! Now I have lived in the US for more than half of my life! The years have flown by.
2. Did you become a citizen?
Yes! I became a citizen, because I wanted to be able to vote. And I do vote!
3. What was the process like?
At that time were living in New Mexico, so we had to travel long distances to get through certain parts of the process. Apart from that, it was easy!
4. Do you have dual citizenship?
Yes. I would not have become a US citizen if that had meant giving up my Irish citizenship. Being Irish is still a huge part of my life and my identity. But I am happy to be a citizen of the country I actually live in.
5. What has caused you to take multiple trips back there lately?
Well, my Dad died in January this year. It was very, very difficult for me to be so far away when that happened. I made three trips to Ireland this year because of that – for his funeral, getting his house ready to sell etc. Then, after that, my husband’s sister died at age 58, so we made another trip to Ireland for her funeral. In October I made one more trip for a family wedding (my fifth of the year!), and it felt good to finally go back to Ireland for a happy event!
6. Have you felt it difficult to be a part of two worlds, and what are the things that make you feel most connected to your home in Seattle?
For me it has been very hard to be part of two worlds and to have two places I call “home.” I love living in the US, but it has also been hard for me to be so far away from Ireland, especially from my parents as they grew older and I was not there to be able to help them. I imagine many, many immigrants to the US feel that same yearning and pull to the country of their birth. I don’t think it ever really goes away. My husband and three adult children are here in the US, so this is home for me now! But I will always love Ireland dearly, and I hope to continue going back there regularly to enjoy my beautiful country of origin.
I think Seattle is a wonderful city to live in. It is just the right size for me – not too big (or too small!). It has the best climate in the US for an Irish person – not too hot or too cold! It has all the art galleries and music venues and bookshops that I love to have close by, and it is easy to get around – I walk as much as I can around the city. Best of all, it has beautiful nature that is very close by. I have lived in quite a few places in the US, but Seattle is where I will stay!
7. You stay in great shape. How has FHC been a part of this journey?
I LOVE Fremont Health Club! The teachers are wonderful, the staff are all very friendly and helpful, and the schedule of classes is great. I do not use the machines, but I go to a lot of classes. I have met many wonderful people at FHC and made some great new friends through the gym as well.
My Dad was almost 92 when he died in January, and he had been going to the gym three times every week until a couple of months before he died. He inspires me every single day to try and stay as fit as I can for as long as I can. FHC is helping me along that journey, and I am really happy to be a member of this gym.
8. Anything else you would like our members to know about you?
I ride my bicycle with my husband – that is our entertainment! Last year, we cycled across the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park in Montana. That was HARD! But we love to be outside as much as we can, enjoying this beautiful earth we live on. My other form of entertainment is singing. I sing with a great choir in Seattle – Seattle Pro Musica.
Thank you Helen for sharing your story and for showing us what a privilege it is to vote!