At age eight she contracted rheumatic fever and was left paralyzed in her left leg. Her older brother used to take her down to the river when he went fishing. There she would try to move her leg in the mud along the river bed. It is suspected this acted as physical therapy and helped rehabilitate her leg. As a result of the illness, he would suffer other life long health complications.
She attended Catholic school until she was a sophomore in high school. Because her family could not afford tuition for her attendance she would work for the nuns cleaning the school and chapel. She tells a tale of how she once fainted while cleaning the second floor balcony of the church (don't let her around candles - they make her faint) and was saved when she landed on a nun who happened to be standing below her at the time.
She graduated from Albuquerque High School in 1958 and shortly thereafter married my father and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. My sister was born a year later and my brother three years after that. She spent the next several years busy raising two small children. My mother became pregnant again but was involved in a car accident and lost both the babies at 20 weeks.
My brother and sister continued to grow becoming involved in school and sports. She kept busy attending games and even started taking community college classes in addition to working a part time job at a preschool where she would later become a director. She even developed a curriculum for teaching English to Spanish-speaking children that was adopted by several schools in the Las Vegas area.
During my sister's senior year of high school my mom surprisingly became pregnant again. Because of her medical history, age, and early complications her physician cautioned her about continuing the pregnancy because he felt it would be a risk to her health to have the child and the small amount of testing they did at that time indicated the baby would suffer many birth defects. Mom declined and said she knew her child would be fine and even if it did not live it would be loved as long as possible. And she agreed to endure any pains necessary.
Indeed she did. Her original due date was Halloween. Let's just say, she went a little long (my birthday is in December). She was sick most of the pregnancy and suffered nearly every related complication one can have. How she stayed motivated to have a baby that probably would not live, I do not know and hope to never have to understand. But I made my entrance into the world ten minutes before she was scheduled for a C-section. And I was fine - normal, at least as normal as any one really is! I did have a few health issues preventing me from leaving the hospital but I finally went home on Christmas day - the nurses wrapped me in a stocking. It is still my stocking to this day!
Sadly, my parents marriage of 25 years ended when I was only three. Complicated really but now they've been divorced longer than they were married and I think they are both in good places. It is interesting to talk to my dad about my mother - she was the love of his life. And I think it was the same for my mom - he was her great love. Sometimes it just doesn't work out.
Mom and I spent the next 15 years on our own. My dad was not really involved in our lives. There were lots of hard times and also a lot people who were there when we needed it most. For that we will always be grateful. There were many times when my mom went without so that I could have food or clothing. I was involved in many extracurricular activities in school. The way Mom would pay for them was by making tortillas or tamales and I would sell them. It paid for four years of cheerleading camp and a trip to Europe with the Spanish Club (she insisted I see Spain since that's our homeland). Oh, and there was that whole bout with bladder cancer she had while I was in high school - but she never made a big deal out of it and most people did not even realize she was sick.
I don't know anyone who gives like she gives - no thought of how it will impact her. If someone needs something, she is there. I certainly would not be the person I am today without my mother. Goodness, I would not even be here if she had not gone against her doctor's wishes. Her health has never been all that great. However, inside there beats the heart of a warrior.
I am so proud to call her my mom. She does not have a computer and thus does not know what I write in my blog. But I tell her every time I see her how much I love her and how grateful I am for all she does for me.
Thank you, Mom.