My mother turned fifty-years-old this past January. I always seem to forget how old she is or that she’s spent about half of her life being my mother, our mother. Maybe it’s because she hardly ages? She’s looked the same for as long as I can remember — no signs of fine lines or wrinkles. Her smile is still bright and full and her laugh — that laugh — is still a contagious echo that can be heard as far away as the Grand Canyon is deep!
But I’ve seen her struggle. I’ve seen her in pain. I was even with her when she ran away from it all. She’s a fighter, a quiet fighter but with the most courageous heart.
I have painful, almost disturbing memories from my childhood of what I have seen her go through. The Philippines wasn’t always a pretty place to be in. There are people you can’t trust. There are more people who’ll take advantage of you, they’ll do it without a problem, even in front of your children.
I’ve seen her pick up and leave a house, an entire piece of land given to her, because the neighbors were threatening her life after she exposed them as criminals. I was there when she decided that even if we lost our huge house, we would be safe in a small apartment even if it meant we weren’t always comfortable.
I watched her from a kitchen window, frail and washed-out, walking through the flooded streets to buy food for me and my brother, leaving us in the apartment because it was safer to be alone together than in the streets. We shared a mattress, two worn-out pillows, and one queen-sized sheet for a blanket. She hugged me close every morning as I slept. She pulled me closer when I’d want to move and leave her side.
But after everything, I saw her beaming and full of joy. We were leaving that place soon. We were going far away, forever. We were flying home, safe.
Nothing, absolutely nothing was more perfect in my childhood than seeing my mother smile and hearing her laugh. She never let the stains of our pasts ruin her spirit. She stands by everything she’s done and everything she went through. Because of her I know God. Because of her I’ve seen strength even without hope. I’ve seen faith after betrayal. I’ve felt unconditional, never-ending love.
Every single day should be this mother’s day.