A Woman’s Story
This little girl here is a ray of sunshine. Her happiness glitters like the sunlight that falls on her white dress, like the smile that adorns her little, thin face and dazzles the photographer, and those who see the picture.
She has eyes greener than emeralds. Her skin is white as porcelain, a little tanned by the years of living under a tropical sun that burns our brains some times. Her hair used to be of a very pretty brown hue, with a few lighter strands, caused by the same punishing sun. Nowadays, I can see some freckles on her nose and her upper cheeks that weren’t there before. It’s age, she says. I think it could be true.
Her voice, I always loved. It had low tones that disappeared whenever I or the other scoundrels I lived with got in trouble, or made some mischief, and the pitch became something highly stressing and a synonym of being grounded for life in the coming future. Her mother’s voice was like that, too, although she never had that high pitch.
Her laughter was another story. It was so contagious you could not hear it and keep a straight face; It was a very feminine, playful laugh everyone liked. She did not guffaw often, so when it happened it was something that had to be treasured and remembered.
She didn’t have an easy life. Early XX century, the country barely out of a brutal 27 years old dictatorship, the country still a big rural piece of land with oil that had recently been discovered, that had millions of people from other states and abroad fleeing to work in those wells and in larger cities… in the midst of that whirlwind of changes she had been born, and raised. Her mother had been a single mom, abbandoned by the man that was her father. Hadn’t it been because of her family, which was large and helpful, and loving, things would have been tougher. Her mother worked selling bread and cigars, and taking care of children while she went to nun school and got straigh A’s. They shifted homes and cities often, living with relatives, working, studying endlessly. Their poverty level hadn’t given her mother the opportunity to go to high school, so education was paramount for her, it became her path to walk thoughout her life.
Some years later, in the 60s, she became a teacher. A very young woman who had to go to a small, God forsaken town in the Plains to have her first job, and there she went with her mother and their pet, a little dog called Chispa (Spark). The town was dry, harsh, surrounded by beautiful, uncharted nature, with rivers and creeks everywhere, with nice though toughened people as neighbors and students. She taught Spanish, Psychology, History, and was also a teacher counselor. Five years later she returned to the capital city, met another teacher, a P.E teacher who had been a professional university basketball player, married him and moved away again, this time to a city that was also small but near the capital, near the rest of the family that had always been with her, the family that had always helped her, that she had always helped as well. Her mother also moved with them. They were a team that only death could separate.
Three little rascals were their offspring, all born in the mid 70s and the early 80s. They all lived in a wonderful house in a suburb 30 minutes away from downtown, in a place so peaceful and tranquil it was hilariously though lovingly called “El Hueco” (The Hole), or “Eerie La Punta” (as a mock of that 90s tv show, ‘Eerie Indiana’, where the weirdest things happened). Life was great there, they were very happy. Every year they expanded the house and added more rooms and places to entertain themselves and the family and the friends who never stopped visiting, sometimes staying overnight. She and her mother were the center of all. She was a strong foundation stone of their life.
Years later her mother died in their house; it was a powerful, sad blow to them all. Foundations shook but never faltered, never broke down. Up until those years time hadn’t been able to catch up with her, she looked young with every passing year, it was unbelievable. Everything changed when her mother died, and time came and threw all its weight on her, and she suddenly aged a thousand years. But her lively emerald green eyes were still there, in the middle of pain and sadness, as were her smile and then, eventually, her laughter.
She was born on a day like today, early December, in the 1940s, and like every year I deeply thank God and the Powers that Be that I still have her with me, that she’s still herself, that she gets cranky and angry and still does those amazing political analyses that would make a seasoned news anchor or specialist pale, that she still cooks the meanest food, whatever it is, desserts included. I’m greateful I can still talk about poetry with her, about books and older times. About life.
Nowadays, we’re struggling to live in this battered country of ours, plagued with death and shortages of all kinds, fighting the urges to cry over the absence of dear ones who have left the country looking for better lives, or for those who have departed from this life, trying to live our lives like we always did. Even in this deep well of sorrows, we’re still together. She’s still with us, she’s still our foundation, our corner stone with green grass eyes, white skin and brown hair now populated by quite some unwanted white hairs that look good on her, even if she will never believe it. I tell her that whenever I have a chance, just like she tells me how beautiful and smart and lovely I, her older rascal, am, and I reply that’s all in her motherly eyes. I guess that’s the way life sometimes is with mothers and daughters, when the love they feel for each other is greater than everything else.
“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
― Abraham Lincoln