I remember Momma; If you could see where I have gone

Happy Mother’s Day.  Today is my mom’s birthday.  The photo to the right is mommy and her mom in 1953.  Andrea was also my mother’s name.  She later shortened it to Anne and that is what everyone called her.  Everyone except family.  There, she was still Andrea and I was always called a nickname.  When I got to first grade, the teacher had a hard time getting me to answer to Andrea since I’d never been called that.  I always thought Andrea was such a great name for a dark, exotic beauty like my mom.  I always felt like the beige one around her.  Mom was 5’3″ tall, olive skinned with green eyes and lots of dark, wavy hair.  She wore it halfway down her back all the time I was growing up.  I envied her hair, since mine was whiteblonde, thin and stick straight.  I grew up in a Latino neighborhood and went to public schools where blonde and fair was the exception rather than the rule.  I remember grown men calling out from cars or worksites when I was a teenager “ay rubio!” which means “hey blondie”. I was a typical teenager, wanting to fit in with everyone else, and I envied the dark haired, brown skinned look.  People  always seemed surprised we were mother and daughter.  My mom always seemed like some exotic queen out of a fairy tale, and I adored her completely.

Mom could not have had an easy life.  My dad was not easy to live with, but they loved each other so mom made it work.  She became the mediator between Dad and us kids.  He’d give us unfair restrictions and she’d cut us some slack when he wasn’t around.  She consoled us with reminders that as soon as we were 18, we could be on our own for the rest of our life.  She’d paint fun scenarios to look forward to and I realize now she was easing my painful now with thoughts of a more pleasant and free future.  She was helping me get past the pain of the moment by helping me pivot my thoughts to what I might prefer instead, and prepave a happier life just a few years down the road.  Mom was great at helping us keep the vibration in a fun and happy place.

That is the thing I remember most about Mom – her always lightening the mood wherever she went.  She was pretty, with a giant genuine smile and bubbly personality.  Everyone liked being around her, and she genuinely liked everyone.

She was the best role model a kid could have.  Except not in the arena of cooking.  Mom wasn’t the best cook, and while there were no memorable disasters, it was just ordinary fare.  Always a meat, a starch and a vegetable.  Oh, and a plate of sliced tomatoes atop iceberg lettuce leaves with a blob of mayo in the center,  Dad often cooked, since he worked construction and got home at 4:00pm.  Mom worked 11:00am-9:00pm at Western Union.  I remember a few dishes of hers that I liked: an eggplant dish where she cooked the eggplant with onions and then mixed it with Pepperidge Farm stuffing and parmesean cheese and mayonnaise and maybe a can of soup, and then baked it in the oven.  It was like a meatless meatloaf but we counted it as a vegetable.  I liked that.  And she would roast a chicken (or rabbit, since we raised them) in the oven with just rosemary and garlic and that was really good.

I remember Mom getting ready for work in the morning sometimes when I’d be home from school.  I’d lie on her bed and we’d talk while she dressed.  It was the day of girdles with garter tops, and I’d watch fascinated as she put on her stockings.  She always had the softest feet, and she shaved her legs every day so she seldom got snags.  She was proud of how long her stockings would last without a run.  She’d put on a dress and high heels and pull her hair back and be transformed in front of my very eyes.

One story I recounted in Excited about Obama; Race Issues 1960: I remember once in the car with Mom as a teenager, we pulled up to a stoplight and the car ahead of us has a bumper sticker that said “Honk if you love Jesus.”  Well, we love Jesus so Mom honks her horn.  The woman in the car flips her the bird and shouts out the window: “F*king spics (Latinos) can’t wait for the light to change.”  My poor mom was mortified.  We laughed about it later.

I remember loving to sew when I was growing up, which was convenient since I was invariably restricted to my room.  I’d make matching tops for mom and I, and we had several sets.  Hers, however, fit on an hour glass shaped body and mine on a stick-thin kid’s body.  She’d often wear them going out on errands, as well, so they must have fit, and she must have liked them.

I remember Mom being excited about moving back to Tampa and getting her own house for the first time.  She found a really neat little cedar house in a quiet neighborhood just off I-4 and 41.  It was close to where she’d be working at the V.A. Hospital, and close to her parents as well.

Shortly after she moved to Tampa, she met Rafael Perez, 16 years her junior, who adored her completely.  She and Felito married a couple of years later and had a great relationship.  It was nice to see her so happy.

Mom died on April 8, 1996, of her first heart attack.  It could not have come at a better time: no one was expecting it, so there was no stress or worry about it ahead of time.  I was days away from leaving on a cross country trip to California.  The trip turned out to be a real blessing, as it turned into an eight month stay, doing new and exciting things.  It was a very healing time.

Here’s a poem my mom faxed me a few weeks before she passed, author Unknown.  She’d fax me goofy cartoons all the time, but this was the first and only time she sent something like this.

If you could see where I have gone
the beauty of this place,
and how it feels to know you’re home
to see the Savior’s face.
To wake in peace and know no fear
just joy beyond compare,
while still on Earth you miss me yet,
you wouldn’t want me there,
if you could see where I have gone.

If you could see where I have gone,
had made the trip with me,
you’d know I didn’t go alone
the Savior came with me.
When I awoke, He was by my side
and reached down His hand
He said “Hurry now, you’re going Home,
to a grand and glorious land,
don’t worry over those you love,
for I’m not just with you,
and don’t you know with you at Home
they’ll long to be here, too?”

If you could see where I have gone
and see what I’ve been shown
You’d never know another fear
or ever feel alone.
You’d marvel at the care of God
His hand on every life.
And realize that He really cares
and bears with us each strife,
and that He weeps when one is lost
His heart is filled with pain;
but oh, the joy when one comes Home
A child is Home again.

Mom 1968 in one of our tops

If you could see where I have gone,
could stay awhile with me;
could share the things that God has made
to grace eternity.
But no, you couldn’t ever leave
once Heaven’s joy you’ve known,
you couldn’t bear to walk Earth’s paths
once Heaven was your Home.

If you could see where I have gone
you’d know we’ll meet someday
And though I’m parted from you now
that I am just away.
And now that I’m Home with Him,
secure in every way,
I’m waiting here at Heaven’s door
to greet you some sweet day.

Mom faxxed that to me just a couple of weeks before she died.

She knew it would comfort me immediately and for years to come.

Happy birthday Mom, happy mother’s day!

RELATED: I remember Momma 2011
I remember Momma 2010
A Friend and I Talk About Dying and Easy Transitions
The End of Death As We Know it  – What The Crossing Over Experience 
Was Like, As Reported By Those Who Made The Transition

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