Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

About five or six years ago, I was riding as a passenger in a car where the driver noticed an immigrant-looking woman walking with two small children on a long, empty sidewalk. The three of them were by all indications neither near their starting point nor their destination. The driver made a joke. I didn't laugh.

I immediately thought of my mom. She’s Filipino, having moved to the United States shortly after marrying my dad in 1969. For several years, Mom didn't have a driver’s license, and would have to run all her errands on foot. This was especially difficult when my dad, who was in the Navy, was on a months-long deployment in some ocean. She had no choice; she had two young children to raise. Shit had to get done. Groceries had to be bought. Kids had to be taken to school.

My memories of this time are scant; she got her license when I was in about 3rd grade. But one that does stick out: When we lived in Springfield, Missouri, we rented a small two-bedroom house with no air conditioning, which over the Summer Mom decided was intolerable. So we went, by bus, to buy an air conditioning unit from a department store.

Have you ever tried to lift an air conditioner?

I have no memory of the sales people or which store we bought it from, but I can only imagine what they were thinking when they saw my tiny 5”1’ mom and me—all of six-years-old—lug that unit into the parking lot and off to the bus stop.

Then up onto the bus. Then down off the bus, for the long walk back home.

I often wonder what it was like for Mom, moving to an entirely new country, not knowing anyone, not having any family nearby, responsible for two kids, with my dad gone for months at a time. But I know this: she never once hinted to my sister and I that it was hard on her. She was always loving, supportive, and positive.

She’s definitely been a hero to me, and the best Mom a son could ever have.

Happy Mother’s Day, Norlina P. Simmons

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