Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I've been called back into work this week, and perhaps next week, so my running and workout schedules will be somewhat off. The good thing about being back at work for a couple of weeks, besides the extra money, is that they're training me on some newer, high tech equipment. Now I can pitch in with patient pre-testing like I did when I was a full time tech.

Shopper had blogged about a woman who greatly touched her life, and suggested that we all do the same. The first woman who came to mind was my mother. Perhaps that's a given, because mom gave birth to me, but my mother was such a dynamic person, and had to put up with a lot in her life, but came out smelling ever so sweet.
My mom was born here, in the United States, in Oakland, CA. Her mother's family originated in Toledo, Spain, and her father's family was from somewhere in France. My mother's parents were betrothed to other people in Spain and France, but (from what I've heard) ran off to marry each other and ended up in the United States. Mom was born towards the end of the depression years, at the time Wilson was president. When mom was of the preschool age, Wilson mandated that people of Hispanic decent be sent to Mexico. Almost everyone in my mother's household was whisked to a place they had never been to before, Mazatlan, Mexico. Only the ones at work and school were left behind. That's where my mother, her 3 sisters and her parents lived together for the next 20 years. Mazatlan was not the touristy city it is now, but was was a small fishing village. I've heard stories from my mother of how she and her sisters had to be tough to put up with their new set of circumstances. One unexpected circumstance was skin color. They were more fair than their friends, even though they had dark brown hair. They didn't look like any of their neighbors and where known as the "whites" or "Gueras." They were often made fun of. I've heard several stories of how my mother and her sisters had to physically defend themselves. I've also heard stories of how they made ends meet, how my grandmother was the town Tailor and "healer," attending to births, "sewing" people up, attending to the sick, etc... My mom grew up having to do most of her mother's finish work and became quite the seamstress herself. In her early 20's (early 1950's) my mother returned to the United States, as she officially was a US citizen. At that point in her life, both parents had already died and there wasn't any reason for her to stay in Mazatlan. When she came back to the U.S, she lived with her cousin in the San Diego area, went to adult night school to relearn English, and met my father who didn't speak a word of Spanish... Ironically, my mother had to put up with prejudices once again, because she didn't speak English well, but she soon overcame this obstacle.

Fast forward...
When I was a kid, my mother was the "go to" person in our neighborhood. She always had a great recipe, knew all of the sewing tricks not shown in any books -- plus made every one's prom and bridesmaid dresses, and pierced my ears and most of my friend's ears (with their parent's right there, of course.) My mom was a fun mom. I remember one summer when it was the neighborhood boys VS the neighborhood girls in a massive water fight. At the back door my mom would give the girls buckets for the water, and at the front door she would give the boys equal sized bowls. We never knew this until later. At the end of it all, she would have homemade pizza for us all. My mom was the wizard of "Spanglish." She often invented words or changed words around . One of the most memorable was how she said "Beverly Hillbillies." Her version: "The Beverly Hilly-Billy's." LOL... My mom also threw the best parties. She did everything herself, no catering service -- well, unless you count my brother, sister, and I. Her food presentation always looked professional and was delicious. She could have gone into the catering business, but that was never her goal. My mother also had many, many friends, all of which considered her their best friend. The whole time I was growing up my mom never seemed to get sick. The only time I remember her down was when she had a c-section for the birth of my sister. Then in her later years (for her it was her mid 50's) she suddenly seemed to be in pain all of the time. This was not normal.
My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer in May of 1985. This was a bitter pill for all of us to swallow. It was hard to watch such a strong willed person suffer. My mother rarely cried when I was a child, or at least never in front of me. This was the first time I saw my mother let go of her emotions, happy and sad. At that time, my brother, sister and I each had a child and they were all babies/toddlers. It was very hard for my mother not to enjoy her grandchildren, but she did take great joy in spending time with them. I remember finding little Hot wheels cars along side my mom, in her hospital bed, where my 2 year old nephew had been playing. She enjoyed that time with him, as she did with my niece and my daughter. My sister gave birth to her second son in December of 1985. This birth also gave great joy to my mom, since it took the focus off of her suffering. My mom died March 1, 1986 at age 57. My mom never ever wore black. As a tribute to my mom, I wore something that was not so somber, but light blue and more cheery. It was one of her favorite outfits on me at the time. The church where the funeral was held was packed solid, and there was standing room only for those who came a little late. I saw people who I hadn't seen in years; people who were touched by my mom, such as the shy neighborhood girl who had my mom make her wedding dress just a couple of years before, a long lost relative whom I know my mom would have loved to see, all of the friends who said my mom was their "best" friend, and many other friends, neighbors and relatives.

There have been times through out the years (since her death) where I would have witnessed something that my mom would have loved to know about. It sometimes makes me sad to not be able to pick up the phone and give her the details. I am not as "ballsy" as my mother was, but that trait has taught me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things; to go for what I want, but in a good way. My mother was also brutally honest, even if the answer hurt. But we all knew she was right. (We knew never EVER to ask her if something made us look fat, because she would always say "YES!") My mother's honesty taught me to be honest, but I'm not as brutal... LOL...

Someone once asked my mom "Don't you feel fortunate to be in this country with everything you have now?" Her answer: "Fortunate? Perhaps. But I was born to be queen!"



Pamela said...

Wow...what an amazing woman & a wonderful story.. now I gotta go blow my nose.. sorry :)
Thanks so much for sharing hon .. if only the world had more "gems" like her ...

leslie said...

What a beautiful remembrance. So happy you took the time to write it all down. Hugs.

Anne said...

That's such a touching tribute to a great woman. You are very fortunate to have had a mother like her, even if her life ended early. The photos really add a dimension to your words, too.

I can't remember how to spell the guy's name, but is the song by James Blount?

Irene said...

My mom was all out there. She wasn't afraid to say anything... I miss her a lot.

Thanks. It was therapeutic for me.

About the photos... the first one I found behind my parents wedding photo, here at the house, after the estate sale. I had never seen that picture of her so young before. Keep guessing on the song. It's a female artist. ;)

Pat said...

that's a wonderful post. Maybe it should be framed.

Arizona, USA

Evelyne said...

Beautiful tribute. I just hope my kids remember with such fondness.

zooman said...

I really enjoyed this post. It speaks volumes of someone so dear to you.

jessica said...

Your post is simply wonderful.....your mom looked truly like a queen...yes I completely agree that the most important women in most of our lives is our mother....they take on different roles in different phases of our lives...for most daughters they are the closest friends. Lovely way to pay tribute to the most important woman of your life that too on this day when women all over the globe are reverred for who they are. Do drop by my blog and share your views and thoughts on friends and friendship.

barbie2be said...

what a beautiful tribute to your mother, irene. notsoccer mom has also written today about her mother who was a strong proud woman just like your mother. i wish we as women had all had that kind of experience with our mothers.

christina aguilera for today?

NotSoccer Mom said...

great post and love the pix too.

Dori said...

What a great post, Irene. I'm in tears. Your mother sounds like a wonderful woman. I'm surprised I never knew of Wilson's mandate to send Hispanics to Mexico; can't even imagine why he'd do that. What an f-ing racist.

Glad you got into the Nike 1/2. I hope I get to meet you!

KatieFeldmom said...

That is a wonderful dedication to your mom. Good Luck with your workweek and I hope you are able to get your runs in.

WADDLER26.2 said...

Thanks for sharing your mom's story with us-it is a beautiful tribute. SHe was quite a woman.

shoparound said...

I thought I commented yesterday, but evidently it was either eaten by blogger OR I couldn't see through my tears that the comment moderation didn't work. ;)This was really a great post. I'm sure that you described your mom to a T. She definitely looked beautiful and sounds as if she had a beautiful heart to go along with it. Thanks for sharing!

Irene said...

This was very therapeutic for me. My mom was such a fun person.

It's hard to choose just a few points to write about someone when they're so multi-faceted. I left out so much, but it would have gone on and on! :)

Which is why I miss her so much and it makes Mothers Day sometimes tough.

Thanks. I will stop by your blog! Yes, she was the queen of our house!

I've read NSM's blog as well. Hers was a wonderful tribute, too.

Thanks. Ironically, my mom didn't like her picture to be taken, but there were plenty of pictures to choose from. :)

I'm trying to find the article I had about that whole time frame. It's one of those incedents that people in the Woodrow Wison camp like to sweep under the rug, so to speak, because it was an embarassment. I never really knew about this whole block of history until one of my aunts became a history teacher at the college level, and dug up that bit of information. I'll try and find that article to post on my blog. I hope I get you meet you at the Nike event too! Yay! You're going!

My mom was a unique individual, that's for sure! This past week sure was crazy at work! I don't know what my schedule is going to be like, and I hope the new person they hired works out!

Thanks. I plan on saving this blog post for my kids. My daughter was only 2 and a half when she died, and my son was born a year later. They never knew her.

I know, blogger can be funny that way, which is why you've probably switched... My mom had a big heart. :)