Friday, December 30, 2005

ON FAMILY, MISSING MY MOM, AND THE HOLIDAYS




Once again, the holidays have come and gone. And once again, it was hard for me to “get into” the spirit of the celebration, not in the commercial sense because I’ve long abandoned the need to go broke buying stuff I, and others, don’t need. Ever since my mom left for Puerto Rico in 1998, it has been difficult for me to enjoy this time of the year. Because her house was where the family congregated, all of my days seem empty without her, not just the holidays.

My mom has always been an independent spirit, even though she married my stepfather when I was five, and is still married. Not that getting married means one isn't independent, but when you're a couple, there are just certain things you just can't do. Most of the time, she did (and still does) what she wanted, like enrolling in night school to get her associates degree even though my stepfather ragged on her the entire time. At sixty, she learned to drive against my stepfather’s wishes (he claimed he could take her wherever she wanted to go -- apparently not). She also bought a used car despite his protests. For those of you who are not familiar with old-fashioned marriages, Puerto Rican husbands don’t take too kindly to independent wives. Many of them like their wives at home, even if they aren’t at home with them, and by their side whenever they go out. None of my mother’s sisters learned how to drive; they are at their husbands’ mercy to take them everywhere. So I admire my mother very much for taking this step. When she left for Puerto Rico, she shipped her beloved first car with her (a 1989 Chevy station wagon, which is still running to this day). Now when my stepfather doesn’t want to go to the movies or to the second-hand shops she enjoys visiting, she takes off. When she returns, she never hears the end of it. But my mom has longed since learned the art of filtering out sounds she doesn’t want to listen to, including my stepfather’s voice. Unfortunately, I haven’t been quite as blessed in that regard.

My grandmother lives two hours away from my mom in Puerto Rico so every other weekend, my mom drives to check on her, clean her house, take her on errands, etc. Sometimes my stepfather goes with her, most times he doesn’t. Two hours doesn’t seem that long but since I’m hundreds of miles away and I start thinking about how my mother’s only been driving for eight years and how she’s getting older, I can’t help but worry about her. I’ve taken that drive with her whenever I visited Puerto Rico and a straight shot it is not; we’re talking winding snake-like roads through mountainous terrain. And don’t let it rain.

Despite my mother’s absence, I still have my sisters, at least 35 cousins, first and second, and two aunts and uncles still living in Chicago, most of whom I see often throughout the year. Sometimes to the point that I feel I’m OD’d on family. So getting together on the holidays is not that big of a deal. Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my family (especially my many little cousins shown above), taking pictures, and catching up. But it just isn’t the same without my mom. And it never will be.

6 Comments:

At January 03, 2006 3:54 PM, Blogger Mirtika said...

It is never, ever the same without mom.

I lost mine May of 2004. I still get weepy when I look at her pictures around my house. I still say, "I love you" to the pictures, to the air. I still ask God to let her know and Papi know that we miss them and think about them and love them.

You've got distance between you, but at least you can SEE your mom and granny. (I never saw my grannies, any of my grandparents. The price of "exilio.")

Enjoy her. She sounds like a truly strong and fabulous woman. (And my mom had that filtering talent, too.)

Mirtika

 
At January 04, 2006 8:44 PM, Blogger Bonnie Calhoun said...

you should give yourself a present next Christmas, and go visit her for the holiday. You've got a year to save!

 
At January 05, 2006 7:54 AM, Blogger marianne benitez said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At January 05, 2006 8:15 AM, Blogger marianne benitez said...

First i must i say i love the picture of all the kids thats so cute ...

XENIA ... i can so feel your sadness i miss my mom dearly as you know i lost her on feb 5th 1997 at the young age of 53 to cancer .. thank god i have my 2 girls to help me get thur the holidays but its like the other 2 writers said u can still manage to get on a plane and see your mom or have her fly out here and be with you its going on 9 years febuary 5th on my youngest daughters 10th birthday and trust me it isnt getting easier my moms house was where we all got together for all holidays ...
i pray to her i sing to her i cry to her i talk to her the worst for me is when iam in the kitchen washing dishes thats where my daughters have seen me many times crying its gotten so bad they dont even ask anymore "whats wrong mommy" they know there mom misses "nena" when i visit puerto rico and see your mom she reminds me so much of mine sweet/wants to give u the house / u can talk to her about anything and she will listen and not judge you just listen i feel so accepted when i am around her thats not a feeling i feel to much around the family ... ruben and i adore her deeply i can also say i had the pleasure of being at her house the last time we all got together before she moved to puerto rico and it was a pleasure .. keep on writing your blogs i enjoy reading them
marianne

 
At January 26, 2006 12:17 AM, Blogger Kultured ey3s said...

Xenia...a beautiful name...this is my first time visiting your blog page--ever..just happened to run across it..Your mentality seems so familiar to me, your poetry, your knowledge. and it's because i was raised up around people similar to you. Knowledgable men and women. Open. Loving. Educated. I thought i'd just give you proper respect where it's due..from a Latina(although i don't tend to like the labels-but I'm mixed so to say "from a dominican, puerto rican, cuban, panamanian young lady! would be too much lol)...to another strong Latina.(yes i know that was a long parenthesis lol)...
I love the relationship you have with your mother and the wonderful things you have to say about her. My real mother is not with me..oh she's living...but where she is, is far from my knowledge right now. Not in Amerikkka i know that. But the madrina i've been blessed with (although we have our rough times) is enough for me! Her family, as well. And you know we always have extended familia! EVERYBODY becomes our cousin. lol...Go visit your mother the instant you see you have enough free time! Your hearts are one.


Much love,

Micoláii Fuentes (Mico)

 
At January 26, 2006 9:01 AM, Blogger LaEquis said...

Thanks to everybody for all your beautiful comments. It made me appreciate Mami a lot more and miss her a little less. I am planning a trip to see her as we speak.

Once again, gracias.

 

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