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Posts Tagged ‘mom’

Sunday, in the Plazuela de Carmen Alto, celebrations honoring the Christ of Esquipulas (Black Christ) were in full swing. I was awakened at 6 AM to the sound of fuegos artificiales (fireworks) and eventually drifted off to sleep after 11:30 PM, as fireworks’ explosions resumed.

Festivities lasted all day and I couldn’t resist heading up to the church courtyard to see what was happening.

When I arrived, seats in the shade were filled and a small crowd was gathered behind a barricade; a castillo, laying on its side in three parts, was being constructed; a teenage Oaxacan brass band, with the requisite tuba towering over the other instruments and their players, was waiting to play; and young dancers were performing with a combination of earnestness and joy.

Skirts flying

Dance always seems to be an integral part of celebrations both secular and religious, and, in reflecting on my love for this, at times, perplexing and contradictory place, dance is one of the things that resonates the most.

Piña Dancers

A small stage set up under the trees; dancers, their handmade and unique costumes; energetic music; choreographed steps passed down through generations spirited me back to my childhood…

Mom and me

Let’s dance!

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Remembering my mom

Yesterday would have been my mom’s 92nd birthday.  Yes, April Fools’ Day — it was a source of much good humored teasing in the family!  Despite sharing her birthday with this inauspicious holiday, she was an amazing woman, who also happened to have a great laugh.  A coincidence?  I think perhaps not!

Like many women of her generation, she married at 20, going from her parents’ home to setting up housekeeping as a new bride.  A mere four years later, she sent her husband off to war and she went to work in the shipyards.  The war ended, the shipyards closed, he returned home safely in 1945, and they adopted a new born baby girl in 1950 — me!  However, the unimaginable occurred and he was tragically killed in 1952.

Widowed at 34 years old, she was left with a toddler, a house on a steep hill, and a car she didn’t know how to drive.  However, with the love, support, and common sense from her family, she gradually emerged from mourning; learning to drive, taking bookkeeping classes at the community college, returning to the workforce when I started school, and rekindling her love of dance, becoming a folk dancer — a pursuit she continued until she died.

Travel also became a part of her life.  She rapidly discovered she loved to drive and in 1955 traded our old car for a red and white 1955 Ford Fairlane convertible with a V-8 engine — many road trips ensued.  Camping also became a regular summertime activity — backpacking trips to Mt. Lassen with a neighbor family and annual Labor Day encampments with her folk dance community.

In the summer of 1956, wearing her brand new suit, mom and I set off for England to visit her brother, recently transferred to London.  No passenger jets back then, we took a propeller plane (TWA, I think) from San Francisco to New York City, spent a couple of days sightseeing, and then boarded BOAC to fly from NYC to London.  Our return trip had us sailing from Southampton to NYC, aboard the T.S.S. New York, then flying to SF — a pretty brave journey for a newly single mom.  She eventually returned to Europe when she was in her sixties and twice fulfilled a life-long desire to see Alaska.

This brave, loving, and active woman died way too young — less than two months after her 71st birthday.  She often populates my dreams, not as a central figure, just someone whose warm and comforting presence is gratefully felt.  I’d like to think she would be all for my move to Oaxaca — worried but proud — and that she would jump at the chance to visit.

Thanks, mom, for setting a great example!!!

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Written to my mom — Mothers’ Day, 1985:

My Mom Is the World’s Greatest Mom…

because she and my dad wanted a baby so much, they loved and cherished (and doted-on) a chubby little brown haired baby girl, even though she was adopted;

because she ended-up being widowed 2-1/2 years later and had to raise that little girl all by herself, even though it wasn’t easy — especially when that little girl became a teenager during the turbulent and challenging time of the sixties;

because she taught me responsibility and helped shape my values, even though she probably thought I wasn’t listening;

because she has had to work hard for as long as I can remember and even though she finally retired last month at age 67 — she has now volunteered her time to Guide Dogs;

because she allowed me the freedom to move out on my own when I was 18 and one year later to move to Europe for 6 months, even though that left her worried and at home;

because she has always “been there” for me and supported my decisions, even though she didn’t always agree with them;

because she loves and cares about my husband, stepson and closest friends like they were her own, even though they are not;

because she always has time for my two young sons, even though she may be busy;

but most of all, my mom is the world’s greatest mom…

because she has always made me feel loved and valued, even though I often forget to say “I love you mom.”

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