They don’t make them like my mom anymore. I have integrated much of what she tried to teach me in my life. Granted it was definitely a battle to raise a child who wanted so much at the time to cling to all things American. This is the woman who could not accept me living in the dorms at Florida Int’l University. Ladies don’t leave home until they marry, she said. How archaic, I thought, as I packed my bags to move a mere 20 minutes away from home.
I will not lie and say we see eye to eye on every matter because we don’t. Her life journey has brought about many revelations to her that I have yet to learn for myself. Yet she is my mother, a visionary who just knew a tiny tourist island was not big enough for her children. She knew the rough side of Little Haiti would not be part of any “war stories” her children would share.
She was the first hustler I knew, doing double duty as a nanny to the island’s elite and traveling to purchase and return to sell items from faraway places. This woman is so private it takes her sisters to crack the mystery of her.
I subconsciously patten my life after her. I married opposite-like her, only too comfortable to let my life partner be the center of the party while I sit back and just watch. I trust few like her. She never kept much company. My mother’s house was not welcoming to evil spirits in the form of fake friends and posers. No popping in at my house! I too prefer to live that “circle of influence life” where there is a circle for every area of my life–some touch but most don’t.
She is so intelligent, my mother. She reads three languages, writes two including English. I just knew my mom should be working in academia or a business and not a sweat factory in Hialeah. I often wonder of the professional power house she could be. Yet she sacrificed it all for my brother and I.
When faced with a difficult marriage, she remained. In one of her most transparent moments she admitted she could not and would not raise us as fatherless children as she had been. I am torn about this but know I am who I am because she sacrificed for me. She brings out my best and my worse as I fight to be at once the person I am and the daughter she may want me to be.
Cancer has afflicted her body but her soul and spirit remains intact. She is a difficult nut to crack, that lady. No longer is there a wheel chair ramp in front of her home. These days she leaves the chair at home because that unyielding spirit refuses to let a mere thing like cancer take her out. Sharp wit, sharp tongue, sharp mind. That’s who she is.
Our mother-daughter relationship isn’t a romanticized version you will see on TV. It is made of fights fought hard, words that can’t be taken back, and a love that supersedes it all.
Here’s to all mothers present, past, and future. May your example be that which leaves a lifelong legacy in the lives of your children and those they meet.