old woman wearing sunglasses smelling flowers

A few days ago I took part in a writer’s club meeting on Zoom. The topic we were discussing was: “Name one character that did something you could never do.” Soon as I heard the topic, I immediately thought of my mom. I can never do what she did.

My mom was raised as a mix. During the school season, she would live as a city girl and in summer she would visit her ancestors’ village, turning into a tomboy. When she was young, she had a passion for animals and dreamt one day to be the owner of her own pet clinic. She never thought her life would turn up like this. Being 55 years old and working as a cleaning lady at the same bar for 10 years straight.

Despite not following her dreams, she taught me something during my lifetime that I will never forget. It is a lesson that has stuck with me over the years, making me pursue my own ambitions. You see, my mom was never involved in a relationship until the age of 27 years old when she met my father.

Getting Married

Being an inexperienced 27 years old city girl/tomboy, my mom was seduced by the balanced mindset of my father, who was raised in a village all his life. My mom is a Gemini and my father is a Libra, the perfect combination.

Two years into the relationship and my mom got pregnant with her first child, my older brother. They weren’t married yet and coming from conventional families they had to rush themselves into a wedding while my mom was still pregnant. (Funny, because my brother did the same with his wife when they were 22 years old, I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree).

At the time, my father had a gambling issue. He loved betting of any kind. From “Find The Marked Card” hosted from the crook at the corner to a simple coin toss. He loved the adrenaline rush that he got out of it. My mom didn’t saw that as a problem at first, since my father would place only small bets for the sole purpose of entertainment.

However, after marriage, things took a turn for the worst.

Two Other Kids Later

Fast forward a few years and my mom found herself being a full time housewife, raising three kids, my older brother and sister and me, the youngest. My father was the only one providing an income in the family as my mom would raise us.

The income, (though it was only one), seemed secure, since my father was working for a state owned petroleum company where he would get paid above the average wage, plus monthly bonuses.

Since they had money to spare, my father started gambling even more. He went from coin tosses to placing hundreds of dollars on soccer matches. The lottery became a weekly tradition. As my father was gambling on bigger amounts, the first arguments in the house started to arise.

Though I was only 5 at this point, I remember my father coming home later than usual and most of the nights he would argue with my mom regarding his gambling issue. None of them was actually book-smart when it came to finances, but it doesn’t take rocket science to start saving all the extra money you get from your wage.

With three kids to raise, my mom knew that they needed to start building an emergency fund, yet no one ever listened to her. My father would act all cocky and treat her with little respect. When the arguments were too intense, I remember him even hitting her. It hurts to say this, but it’s true. Despite all the fights and the disrespect, she kept staying with us.

Losing The One Income

Fast forward five years later. The CEO had just been changed at the company where my father was working. Along with the former CEO, a lot of other employees lost their job, including my father. That is when things took a turn to destination Hell.

Being too stressed and jobless for a period of time, my father used gambling as a coping mechanism. We had little to no money, yet he would gamble everyday. The arguments grew to fights and the fights to violent out-lashes from my father.

I remember he would throw the dinner table while food was still on it. He would curse out my mom and threaten to kick her out whenever she would even mention the gambling issue.

I have seen her cry many times. I have seen her hopeless. I have seen her make her best to cook meals for us even when there was little no food in the house. I have seen my mom get disrespected and threatened for her life. Yet, she still stayed with us.

Any other woman would’ve left, kids or no kids. Any logical person would’ve simply packed up and left without turning back. She didn’t.

She kept staying with us every day, even when my father wasn’t there for three days straight.

Three days straight and I am not even exaggerating. He had won some money at a casino somewhere and he had spent three days sleeping in the same casino, gambling all those money away. We were dead worried. I remember one of those nights. It was 22:00, we were sitting on the living room watching TV and my mom was trying to hide her tears.

Her man wasn’t home and she had to carry all the burden in the house. Thinking back to all of this, taught me one valuable lesson.

Love, can conquer all the challenges, no matter how crazy or hard they are.

My mom stayed with us because she loved us, and she stayed with my father because she loved him and she believed that one day he would change for the better.

And that day came.

Working For A Pension

When my brother got his wife pregnant while they were still engaged, that’s when my father started changing for the best. He quit both gambling and smoking at the same time and focused on his work as a taxidriver like never before.

My mom had been working as a cleaning lady for a bar and she is still working there. She has been by my father’s side for more than 30 years now. She is going everyday at work and trying her best to secure herself a pension.

Despite being treated badly by her employer, she keeps going to her job with a smile on her face. Because is the same lesson that she has kept by heart.

She loves herself enough to be patient through the challenges that the dirt she has to take, so that she can have a calm and peaceful life when it’s her time to retire.

I love you ma. You know this.

In case you are reading this, I know that we haven’t met in a while and that you miss your little boy by your side. You know that I am here, working hard and trying to become successful so that I can finally give you the life you deserve, my queen.

Whenever you need me, just call.

Reminder to call your mom right now and tell her you love her.