Salome Mwangi and Wayne Dilliard

Recorded May 6, 2020 Archived May 6, 2020 40:45 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby019756


Friends Wayne Dillard (56) and Salome Mwangi (50) recall how they met, the bonds their families have with one another and how each has learned from the other over time.

Subject Log / Time Code

SM asks WD what his first impressions of her were.
WD asks SM what her first impression of him were.
"I had all these fears that were completely unfounded and that was because I was stepping into a world I had never been in before."- SM
WD and SM describe the bond their families have.
"Your dad became Grandpa Jack to her and your step mom became Grandma Karen to her"- SM on how WD's family embraced her daughter.
SM describes how WD and his family supported her and her daughter.
WD and SM recall their fishing trips.
SM recalls eating funeral potatoes and other foods.
SM recalls a funny moment between her mother and WD.
SM discusses the impact WD's family has had on her.
WD discusses the impact SM's family has had on her.


  • Salome Mwangi
  • Wayne Dilliard

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Partnership Type



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00:03 My name is Solomon when he I am 50 years old today is Friday May 8th 2020.

00:13 Beautiful, Boise, Idaho

00:17 And my name is Lane Dillard. I am 56 years old still the same date also in Boise, Idaho.

00:29 And it's strange. How long have we known each other?

00:35 Oh, let's see. It's been 13 years.

00:41 Men wedding

00:45 So I remember we met in 2016 2016.

00:54 When we both were working at T-Mobile.

00:58 And I'm just curious what the impression of me was. Well, when when I first met you you were going through a really difficult time and I just remember you were somebody who was driven and a lot of it was by fear because you were suddenly a single mom and you were going to Newark New Country. You hadn't been here all that long, but I also noticed that there was

01:33 There was something about you that you didn't let other people see because you had some defenses that were up because of what you were going through and I'll never forget the day. We was an evening we sat in your car.

01:52 And you told me your story.

01:55 And I don't know whatever prompted you to do that but that made such an impact on me because I had never met somebody.

02:06 From another country that moved here let alone a refugee and a refugee with your kind of a story and I think that's where you know, you did really made a connection with me really deep.

02:22 So back at you though.

02:26 I know it was a difficult circumstances for you. What was your impression of me?

02:34 You know, I think you were the first.

02:38 White guy

02:41 That I really got to know.

02:44 Outside of like work or church or you know, you're somebody that we were working with and you had helped with a training class that I was in when I started working.

02:58 A T-Mobile and I did not like you at all because when I asked a question and I just wanted you to give me the answer so that I could talk to the customer whoever it was given the answer and get them off the phone as quickly as I could cuz I really didn't like being on the front of the customers because I wasn't confident about talking to customers and you would always reference. Where is it in the manual? Let me let me show you where to find it in the manual and I think it was called something like string write the online database.

03:37 Haha, and so if I had a question, I would feel frustrated that rather than giving me the answer. You would show me where to get the answer. Obviously Mesa. I appreciate that the resource that you were being, you know, kind of like if it's more like

03:55 I don't give me a fish joke.

04:00 But it is really interesting because not only did you invite me to get to know you liked me and opened up a word to me that.

04:12 I don't think I've ever been opened up to me before because you introduced me to your family and made and what an amazing journey has been for myself. And for my daughter was now 16 be able to experience life from a completely different point of view.

04:36 I remember you and you know you would you were speaking a language that has no clue about like when you talked about your dad.

04:49 And I was thinking okay. Thank your dad is a redneck does it mean that he's really does it mean that he wouldn't like me does it mean that you're going to reject me? And so I had all these beers but I later found out were completely unfounded just because I was stepping into a world that I have never ever experienced before.

05:12 And

05:15 Obviously you had animals your dad had to dogs.

05:20 Then I remember almost Thanksgiving dinner. I don't know how you remember. It was the one thing that always whenever I think of of when you were first getting to know us. I I just remember your daughter.

05:41 And are we allowed to say the names?

05:44 So Deborah was 3 years old at the time.

05:49 And I remember how she was the driving force.

05:55 On getting you to get to know my dad. Do you remember what she used to say?

06:04 I remember the first time she met your dad cuz of the time I was a student at Boise State really was with the end. I think it was one of the afternoons or evenings when you were watching her. So you had gone to your dad's place. And the first time she met him you had described your dad as this tough big tall cowboy who wore cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and I was terrified we are and handlebar mustache.

06:33 And then Deborah went and met him and she came home. That was me and she said

06:43 I don't think you.

06:47 It doesn't matter but I also remember talking to Karen your step. Mom who said if I'm not careful this three-year-old this little three year old girl is going to take my husband away fruit.

07:03 Because of the connection that they made and it was such a lasting connection.

07:08 And dab

07:11 What I do remember from those early connections, is that your dad became Grandpa Jack to her.

07:18 And your stepmom Karen Karen to her and so my daughter had this amazing opportunity to grow up referencing grandparents, even though her biological grandparents are not physically but that has been such a gift it began man, but it continues it's it's like the gift that keeps on giving it's better than Christmas.

07:44 And the one thing that that I always remembered about when my family was getting to know you and Deborah was it wasn't that you were invited to come along with me. It was that you were invited whether I was there or not was irrelevant and how quickly that Bond developed and how

08:10 Grandpa Jack who you know Deborah they were they were just wild about each other and he would always say how's my little granddaughter?

08:19 And you can see the look in her eyes and what it meant to her and

08:26 That

08:28 The definition of redneck was fairly apt because my dad was raised in a very very small farming community on on a very large farm work hard, you know, that's all we ever knew and as he grew and matured he started getting more of his own views cuz he could see things through a different lens and that's something that you and Deborah help with so much.

08:57 We as a family me as an individual my parents. My family gives me I've learned so much from you and how to look at things through a different lens in and through a different person's point of view because all we've ever known was our own.

09:15 And it was so important to the growth of us as individuals and its people and and it's something that I really hold dear.

09:28 Funny coming from Nairobi Kenya, which is a very Cosmopolitan City.

09:36 I just felt like gosh where is everybody in Boise One to begin with? Where is everybody come out of the house as well. That is just out of the city was coming from a city of about what like 5 million into 150000.

10:03 Invoicing and then just realizing that there wasn't as much diversity as I was used to.

10:11 And also the fact that I was I came from a question that was the majority majority because many people had my skin color and just have to keep explaining myself.

10:22 Quite a culture shock for me to come in and find people who sometimes have never really interacted with a person of color.

10:32 But then there was also the additional layer of even though I was a person of color. I am not African American

10:39 And it's almost as if people didn't know how to relate with me all of a sudden because well if you're not a person of color and you're not an African American

10:50 And I think that's the journey that that's part of what has made this journey, really really interesting cuz I remember your dad. I think it was you who told me how your dad realized how different I was?

11:05 I don't know if you remember that and some of the things that he said.

11:12 I don't know if you would catch you repeat those.

11:16 You know it it makes it kind of difficult.

11:23 Some of those things it's really hard as we do my dad having passed a couple of years ago still pretty fresh and then ironically enough today is Grandma Karen's birthday and actually before this I just had about an hour long conversation with her and so, excuse me. My emotions are a little a little high but what I'm actually interested, I mean I I heard it from my ears.

11:53 I like hearing how it sounded to you because I experienced it my way.

12:00 Right

12:02 So I remember I mean obviously I was struggling I was a new single parent. I had just decided to go back to Boise State and get my bachelor's degree. And I was juggling putting my child in daycare having to work full time working full-time was not a mean of so I always had a part-time job working as an interpreter wherever I could fit that into my schedule. I don't even know how I made it but somehow I know that your family has been a huge way, you know, you would pick her up from daycare or you would pick her up from school Grandma Karen and your dad Grandpa Jack would pick her up and I remember one.

12:45 The other day I received a call from the daycare when I was in a class at BSU and they told me your. Hasn't been picked up.

12:55 And if I grab a chair and was supposed to pick her up, and she forgot and I called and she went oblique.

13:05 I forgot.

13:08 At that point I really felt like a failure cuz I wondered how can I am I being selfish in wanting to go to school wanting to get my college degree rather than taking care of my daughter and yet I knew that I if I didn't get a college degree, then my life will continue to be one of struggle and with limited opportunities to progress.

13:32 But I remember your dad telling you and then you told me how

13:38 Different I was and how he couldn't believe that I was doing everything that I was doing to better my life and how he admired that that I wasn't waiting for things to fall into my lap and that I was

13:55 Taking the steps that I needed to take.

13:58 And how he couldn't believe that I was not applying for services and depending on public assistance.

14:06 In order to support myself and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the receiving assistance of Public Assistance if you need to and I remember when we first moved here I had to go through that but I remember getting recertified obviously when we first moved here when you come here as a refugee you have 0 acids.

14:26 Zero money in your pocket. No bank account. No pay stubs. Absolutely nothing and then you know, I was looking never thought it was working. We had bass tab. We had bank accounts being had a couple of cars donated to us defense.

14:49 And they wanted all these things in order for me to receive.

14:54 Public assistance in math when

14:57 What about I had grown up with just kicked in and I far do I really have to get financially naked in order for you to go through to put in my table? And I remember that when deciding. Okay, we'll eat rice and beans, but that's not a life that I had grown up with. So I would rather just not do that and just

15:18 To use your way than your father's would pull myself up by my food.

15:27 What are really challenging and what you hear your dad say that?

15:32 Just made me feel like

15:35 I was on the right track and that I shouldn't give up.

15:40 Much as I felt like

15:43 It was becoming too much.

15:46 I'm glad you could you gave me a moment to kind of compose my thoughts on that too. Because a couple of things, you know, you mentioned there were many people out. But then you also got introduced to fishing up on on a reservoir and being in a boat will a lot of the conversations that I would have with my dad because we've we've always worked together. You know, I worked out of electricians we worked on the farm. We we we do flip out and we did all kinds of things together and you're always working and yeah you talk, but you don't get any substance.

16:24 But when we get out on the water and especially just as the sun's coming up the water has it has a unique smell and for whatever reason it both just really calmed both of us and we could actually

16:41 Take it easy and contemplate things and actually have a discussion and the conversation that I had relayed to you came from our time on the water.

16:54 And it was so funny because you know how he would look at you kind of off to the side out of the corner of his eye with his head tilted just a little bit. This cowboy hat on.

17:05 And this is you know.

17:08 He said I can't believe that gal. He said.

17:11 I wish we could get people in this country that were born here to realize what opportunities they have for somebody to come in like that and hit the ground running and works so hard. He said it's just so impressive and he did use the bootstrap reference. He said she doesn't wear boots, but she's definitely pulling herself up by the bootstraps and then he went on to talk about Deborah and how she just stole his heart and how you both had and how glad he was that he got to meet you and you became part of the family. It wasn't as if you were family you were family.

17:54 And that experience for him and in for the rest of my family has really been eye-opening to see how my youngest my daughter Lauren and then Deborah hit it off was was amazing in the bond that they had and and I remember her older brother Nolan, you know playing basketball with her out in the driveway when she was little and then all the sudden she started playing basketball and became much much better and she actually cross team up and Blue by him and laid it up and I think she was only in maybe sixth or seventh grade at the time and he turned to look to meeting us.

18:42 When did that happen?

18:47 And so the CC the different stages and it's been really rewarding.

18:54 And

18:58 I I didn't know I don't know where I was going to add something else, but that just escaped my mind, so

19:06 Another thing that I do remember it was when you talked about going to Lucky Peak in the reservoir and some of my fondest some of my memories. I see my Fondest Memories cuz it's so many of them that it's difficult to pick out an over. This is the most

19:25 Wine and more memory that I have, but it was

19:30 Driving to your dad's house at about 5:30 in the morning so that we could leave by 6 and take the 45 minutes ride to Lucky Peak which is one of the reservoir in the hole.

19:44 Production of cook and hooking the boat and you know what to get in the water and you driving to pick up back up and watching it and getting into the water and just spending the afternoon really quiet time in the in the boat in the water.

20:07 And then learning how to fish with a fish finder.

20:13 And I think the weather out Regal and how do you know where that sounds dumb and license cuz I didn't think that I'd be interested in fishing and eventually I did get one and I caught my first three fishes in quick succession in my heart. So I find you guys spend the whole woman.

20:39 I'm asking that they never caught it.

20:46 Then just learning to enjoy the

20:50 Treasures that Idaho has to offer in the mountains and the rivers and

20:57 Just The Great Outdoors that makes Idaho what it is, and I probably would not.

21:03 Enjoy it as much as I do if it weren't for you and your family and the sum of the

21:11 It's almost as if you plotted a curtain for us to go through and to enjoy some of the things that other people don't obviously get to enjoy.

21:22 Going to be any hot springs in New Meadows driving through the country when it looks like a postcard for Christmas with all the trees and the Hillside and I remember when Deborah was sharing with one of my sister's about what we do here in Idaho.

21:43 And she talked about going fishing and she was describing the whole set up a fishing and my sister just said, oh you're such a vivid imagination and I said no, it's not what we do in, Idaho.

21:58 NYC East and she couldn't figure out.

22:03 How people go fishing. It's just like that picture white and I said no, that's a very Idaho's thing.

22:11 And you can enjoy it regardless though.

22:15 You can color that reminds me of Deborah's first fish.

22:20 So when we when she caught the fish and then she didn't want to touch it.

22:26 Real but she actually real that one in and it was in the net and so then we finally talked her into touching it and she really didn't want an icicle. We need to measure it and I said we need to put it up against your arm. So you can tell people how big of a fish you caught and she was younger and so it was probably 18in long but it was as long as her arm. And so when she held it out, she could say I caught a fish. It's this long. Well, it's true and no matter how old she gets her out till she gets that's the reference. I caught a fish that was this long and we were this past basketball season. We were coming back from her practice and we were actually talking about fishing in that and I said, well, you know, maybe we should do

23:13 Oh, I know how it came up because she had to get up really early and she said yeah, really, the only things that I get up early for is to go skiing or or to go fishing and she said other than that, I'm I'm not getting up early and I mentioned that you know, maybe we should go fishing and she said yeah, that would be good. She says but you know to be real honest, she said it wasn't really the fishing.

23:39 It was getting to go up there and hang out with you and Grandpa and it it brought a tear to my eye.

23:47 And that's the thing about the nature here in Idaho is when you can find a place like that. It allows so much more of a personal connection then if you're in a restaurant or you're at a coffee shop, or you know, you're somewhere where there's a lot of other people around because if you got three people in a 21-foot boat

24:12 You're pretty close, but there's nobody else around that is so true. I just realized we spend so much time talking about your dad and yet there's so many other members of your family that I got to meet. The one thing. I'll never forget and I'm sure this comes from your mom's side of the family is a moment funeral potatoes and they don't like anything that I would like to associate with especially when you call him funeral potatoes, but I remember when you fix those and I thought I'll go to any moment funeral if I'm going to

24:57 Mac and cheese recipe that uses and you made it your own.

25:03 Yes, because so my mom's LDS, which is Mormon and she was on the committee that would prepare food for after the funeral. And so there was a set menu, you know, if you go to an LDS funeral, you know, what you're going to eat and one of them is is well, they call him cheesy potatoes wheel is called the Mormon potatoes. My sister's LDS Mormon potatoes to buy you take hash browns and cheese and cream of mushroom soup and cream of chicken soup and some onion and a few things you mix it all up and you bake in the oven and when you think about it you think of it doesn't sound very good, but when you actually get a chance to eat it, it's quite tasty.

25:45 And so yeah, that was her contribution because until she joined that until she got that assignment at church, you know, I'd never really had them and then she made him I went. Wow. Those are good.

26:09 My daughter go to enjoy has become an end up enjoying it as well. But I remember my daughter feeling like she's not missing out on American food. Cuz obviously if it were up to me, I would cook.

26:22 Kenya news everyday while not necessarily but if it became food, which is very different from American food, and I think my earliest memory with struggling with American food is when Deborah wanted mac and cheese, but she was too young to be able to pronounce Bashan.

26:42 And so she called a cheating.

26:46 And I remember having to call the daycare and ask them. What is chromatin and where can I get it? Cuz she still loves mac and cheese and my child had two.

27:03 Be happy with the craft little cups that all you did was add a second line for kitchen to the microwave and I'm dumping the powdered.

27:13 Horrible couldn't figure out why she liked it but through you she was able to enjoy a homemade homemade mac and cheese and fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy.

27:29 Was there a pretty good cook? Well, I do like the girl to and and there's a few memories I have of cooking for you and for your family in and one of those was Deborah when it was that same conversation. You were having that you referenced earlier about going out on on Grandpa Jacks what she used to do the lightning fast jet boat.

27:56 And Michigan and your sister thought she was crazy and then and then she was talking about. Oh, yeah, and and he's a really good cooker. She she's always become very interested in cooking and then your mom came from Nairobi.

28:17 And I decided I was going to grill a meal for you guys.

28:24 And I don't know the exact conversation that you guys had because it was in either to Swahili or kikuyu not sure which but I knew I didn't understand that. They're all I knew a couple of words. I knew Yama there was lots of lots of comment about Yama which I found out his bro me and lots of laughter. And so I had to had to ask you about the conversation and you can relay what your mom said.

28:54 Although it was so funny because I think it wasn't that it was my mom second visit to the US and so she was still getting used to the fact that men went into the kitchen and men prefer prepared food. And so I think that you were prepping chicken and reeling it and you kept going out to the audio to check on the chicken and my mom and I was sitting in the living room.

29:19 Kathy and my mom asked me

29:23 And she she did say you didn't she call you when she called me by my kikuyu name and she was like Waterworld.

29:29 You mean that in this country women fit down cross their legs meaning your relaxed right? Why the man keeps going in and out into the kitchen and to whether it is and there's nothing that we are supposed to do.

29:46 I said no Mom. This is America. This is how it is done. And she almost killed ashamed like I hope nobody sees me sitting down on a couch with my legs crossed while a man goes back and forth.

30:02 And Cooks a meal that I'm going to eat.

30:07 That was definitely an epiphany for her that life can be done this way. And there's nothing wrong with it being done that way cuz obviously the culture that we come from is very different than men did not step into the kitchen, especially if there was a woman in the house. They just didn't do that and if I remember correctly.

30:32 Charlie I remember is a part of the insurance that I you know that we've had in each other is teaching you.

30:44 How to grill goat

30:49 Oh, I love goat.

30:53 I don't know if you had you had good mid before but I remember teaching you how to brine it and then

31:03 And then I was like okay it if you cook it quickly tends to be tough and you may not enjoy it as much but if you brine it and then you grill it slowly.

31:14 And you took it to the next level.

31:18 You really did that. I know that that times when you made your grill to go to bed and when we've shared it with other friends within the community. They've already asked and who grilled which Canyon Grill this good and I'm still standing by proxy call.

31:41 Yeah, I remember had actually taking my girl out to somebody who had just come from Kenya recently and I hauled my grill out to their place because they didn't have one yet and grilled to goats for their Christmas celebration and I remembered joking with him that you know, cuz I was out back and he was carving it up and bring it inside and I remember joking why I'm out here in the back so that they don't know there's a there's a white American guy out here cooking their food and he laughed because I couldn't live that down.

32:18 No, it's definitely been an interesting Journey.

32:24 With with you and your family opening up.

32:29 The world the American World in the American way of doing life without pushing down where we have come from.

32:39 And allowing us in allowing you to blend the two cultures the two perspectives in a way that has worked for everybody is so for that. I'm really grateful. I remember.

32:54 There's so many things that my daughter would have missed out on one because she didn't have her grandparents over here or many of our relatives cousins and aunts and uncles but I remember what she was participating in.

33:09 Play at school when she was in 5th grade and she needed a Pioneer outfit Pioneer Woman outfit.

33:21 And Grandma Karen your step mom heard me talking about it. And she said oh I can do that. I can still make that for her and she sewed one. That's just right.

33:34 And I still look at those pictures, and I'm so thrilled.

33:39 And realized just how very blessed I am.

33:43 2

33:45 To be a part of a family event.

33:50 Do we miss our family and we wish that they were here yet. God in his wisdom.

33:56 Gave us.

33:58 People who became like family to us.

34:01 And who have walked?

34:03 On this journey with us. I remember when

34:07 When my father died

34:10 And that was

34:12 Devastating for me

34:15 Steelers

34:18 But I remember how old when your father was still alive. He would always call me on the date that my father died on the anniversary.

34:28 It's almost as if he took on that new role to where she wasn't just Grandpa Jack for Deborah, but she almost became like a father figure to me.

34:39 And he would say I'm I know I'm not your father.

34:44 But I really want to acknowledge the loss of your father on this day that she passed away. That was very very special to me. Don both ways in innumerable ways. I remember as dad started getting sick, He was very vigorous and and he started feeling the effects and and he knew that there wasn't a lot of time left and we had had some family pictures taken.

35:23 And

35:26 He look at those and he said this isn't right. And I said, what do you mean he said can your photographer friend come over to the house instead of going out and I said, yeah absolutely any said good. We have got to get Sally and Deborah over here. He said well, he said several words, but among them were a few expletives, but he said blow their family. I have got to have pictures.

35:57 Before I go they've got to be remembered.

36:02 And they've got to have family pictures and you guys came over and the pictures turned out great. He was a little upset that he was pale and said that he was going to have to wait until summer came so we could get a tan and take them again, but it meant so much to him to have those pictures taken and your family in and I've been blessed to to to meet your sisters and and your brother and the things that I've learned from them and end to learn to look at what I have through new eyes. You do taking your sister through the mountains and I'm getting her expression is as she's going through and there's trees overhanging with snow and for her to see deer and fox and and all of these animals that you don't have in Kenya and to see the look on her face was just amazing and and the fact that she

37:02 Actually

37:04 Got in her swimming suit and went outside in the hot springs when it was -2 degrees Fahrenheit and how she had to be coaxed because there was no way no way she was getting cuz she couldn't get out there and her coat and a Long John so but just seeing

37:25 That aspect of my life and then

37:29 Finding out about the life in your culture and about how different it is yet.

37:35 It's so much the same. It's so much about connecting and in connecting with the right people and in finding that common ground that I never knew existed.

37:49 And that opened up not just

37:53 Idaho to me through somebody else's eyes, but the world I have a much wider world view now, my family has such a wider worldview, which is something is Americans. I think we really really are sorely lacking in so, you know when you say we've been a blessing to you, it's it's it's definitely it definitely goes both ways in the end you and your daughter and your whole family has have been such a blessing to us.

38:29 And you know at as you guys have been there and I can't see you right now.

38:41 Okay.

38:45 The interesting thing is when I think about it.

38:49 And the blessing that has been is Debra has so many Grandma's. She's got her grandma in Kenya show. She's got from McCarran.

39:02 She's got grabbing a deed.

39:07 And I'm thinking what a lucky little girl. That's what her birthday or for Christmas. She gets to be able to claim three amazing women.

39:18 As a grandparent.

39:20 And I always tell her I can hardly wait for her to grow up and see what kind of stories she tells.

39:30 About what it's like growing up.

39:35 Surrounded by couches that are so different and yet they complemented each other rather than Flash.

39:45 With families that are so different

39:50 So

39:52 What would such different perspective than points of views and yet?

39:58 When they walk alongside side-by-side along along each other.

40:04 It's made for real life that are enriched beyond anything that I can think about. So, I'm grateful to know that.

40:12 A little complicated life bless you and your family.

40:21 In ways that we could never ever have thought up.

40:26 Because I know that you have blessed our lives.

40:29 So, thank you. You're welcome. And thank you. I'm ready.

40:35 Okay, cool.