I grew up with my siblings and my step-father. My mother was the glue that kept us together through it all in her own dysfunctional way. She wasn’t much of a hugger or smothered us with a lot of kisses. She ever so often told us she loves us and never let us leave the house without her blessing. She made sure that growing up we had a roof over our head. She made sure that when the holidays came around we had brand new clothes on our backs. She made sure that the beginning of school and the last day of school we looked as spiffy as possible. That little Puerto Rican native of no education did this all on her own. When she met my step-father she held him down as well. No one had to teach my mother to work. That amazing discipline was built into her. She came from Puerto Rico with it. No one ever told her to stop working after 8 hours every single day. My mother had a vision and never allowed her lack of an education to tell her that she couldn’t do it. I thank GOD I have it. Sometimes I wish that I had that sense of “don’t give a shit” my mother had.
When I think of my mother it marvels me that the word NO was never part of her vocabulary. I am more than sure she fought her own demons when life’s adversity hit her but she never believed that she couldn’t get what she wanted. If she thought of it it was automatically attainable. I never once saw my other ever fold. When shit got harder she just embraced herself, stuck her heels into the dirt and pulled back. She fought for her respect and space in life. I am absolutely marveled at what this little illiterate jibarita did with her life. Mommy would always tell me- “Never envy the next person Andres because if they can get it so can you. You don’t know what the story is on how they got it.”
This is how I am for the most part. I always had to fight for mine. I always have to be very aware that not everyone that smiles has good intentions. I had to learn real quick that being who I am was going to be a guarantee that men and women will always test me and try to take what is mine just because they feel that they can. It was not an easy life. This lifestyle I live comes with automatic trips and falls. I am going to get hurt, abused and beaten at least once. No matter how protective my family was with me. It is just the way this lifestyle is. Mommy always loved me no matter what and I truly believe that this helped immensely. Mommy never once told me that I couldn’t make it just because I was gay and dark skin. If anything she would tell me- hijo tienes que ser hasta mas. Mommy made sure I understood that people were going to mean to me because of me being gay and if it wasn’t that then it was because I was dark. She knew that I would have to excel in anything I choose to do. This is how it is for me now and I can’t do a thing I have no passion for. If my heart doesn’t feel it I just can’t do it. I can’t find myself not doing a thing that I don’t love. I wear my heart on my sleeve with what I love.
I give my mother all the credit for the stamina and the will I have to keep living. She didn’t allow someone to tell her that she couldn’t do it, if anything that just put more fuel in her fire. She never looked at herself as a stagnation. She knew that she just had to succeed and wouldn’t settle for just getting by. She raised all of us up with a hard hand, a sharp tongue and a lot of love the only way she knew how. I am not saying her methods were the best but they instilled certain things in me that I can honestly say a lot of the youth of today lacks and needs.
So today I take my hat off to her. This little woman that never stopped working, never stopped trying, never stop climbing. To my mother who taught me that you yourself become your biggest deterrent in life. To the little jibarita that taught me that where I come from is an asset. That I can be all I want to be.