In life at some point or another I think we all have our own personal hero. For me, it is my mother. Well, let me not lie, at first it was Rogue (from X-Men), because she was just so tough and had amazing red hair, and then it was Vampires, in general, ALL of them! When I finally grew out of the stage of having fictional heroes, I realized that the strongest, smartest, most kind hearted and understanding person I knew was my mother. That is what made her my hero.
My childhood was not that of one you see on TV with happy families that sit down to dinner to discuss their days at school or work. We were more of a…unconventional kind of family. My parents were, and still are, together. There were many trials and tribulations that went on in our household. Everything from financial problems to misbehaved children and everything in between (I’ll let you all use your imaginations for the rest).
I grew up in the Bronx in a 5 story walk up apartment. My mother would walk, rain, sleet or snow, to the grocery store, only to lug it all back and up all five flights of stairs, all this after a long day at work in the Village of the city. She would then proceed to clean up the house and cook dinner and squeeze in some time to help my sister and me with our homework. In my eyes, she was always cranky or upset, but I never realized until now, she was just tired.
My mother was the glue that held our household and family together. No matter how rough things got or how broke we were, she kept our family afloat.
Sometimes, when the light bill couldn’t be paid (not that I knew that at the time), my parents would suggest to play a game! We would gather up all the flashlights and candles we could find, and then get the boom box ready with fresh batteries, and it was time for Dress up Karaoke! I would always sing Madonna songs, oh, I forgot to mention she was one of my heroes too, simply because she’s awesome! I guess you could say my dad wasn’t too excited when I wanted to sing “Like a Virgin” at the age of 7 or so, but he went with it in the spirit of “The Game”. He even gave me a pink boa to make it more dramatic! There were more than a few nights like this, but to my sister and me, it was just our family nights. My parents never let it show that we were struggling. They shielded us from the harsh realities of the world that surrounded us.
My mother is one of the only women I know who could have pulled that off. She never showed a sign of weakness, pain or suffering. She was always strong, loving and caring. She was a mother before anything else.
As I grew older, and more rebellious, I caused her so much pain. I defied her, lied to her and spoke to her in a manner that NO child should ever speak to their mother in. But she loved me still, if not more.
When I made the decision to move out at 17, I broke her heart. Not that she said it out loud at the moment, but I could hear the pieces falling apart as I stood in front of her trying to find the words to say goodbye. She warned me of the hardships of the “real world”, but hey, I knew everything right? We didn’t speak to each other for weeks. It was the first time that happened since I was born. She was my best friend and I was lost without her.
I quickly came to realize she was right, right about everything. The world is a hard ugly place and it is your family who makes the light in your darkness. Without her, there was no light.
After a few more weeks, I found myself staring at the phone for hours wondering how I was going to apologize to her, how I was going to make it up to her for breaking her heart; but before I could think of any answer to those questions, I was already dialing her number, the only number I knew by heart. When I heard her voice on the other side of the line, I felt the light slowly shining in again. We spoke as if nothing happened. There were no apologies, no anger, no resentment, just a mother daughter conversation. I guess you could say she missed me as much as I missed her.
Shortly after having Tony, I took a drive to my mom’s house. She was there alone, watching some TV show, probably ER. After we did our hellos, and she did her grandma thing with Tony, we sat down to dinner and then put the baby to bed. While we were sitting in the living room watching another one of her TV shows, probably Trading Spaces or Grey’s Anatomy, I looked at her and told her “I’m sorry”. She looked a little confused, so I elaborated. I explained how I now realized the mistakes I had made growing up and how I wish I would of listened to her, since she was always right. I wasn’t looking for forgiveness, or any kind of response really, I just needed her to know that. She looked at me with compassion and love, and her eyes said it all, she understood.
Now, almost 5 years later, I am hoping that I can one day be half the woman my mother was, and is, to me, my sister and my brothers. She carried our family through it all and I know the load was heavy. She is my mother, my best friend and most importantly, my hero.
Written by Veronica Diaz