Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Mom

My mother was born on a summer day, July 7, 1934 on the island of Terceira, in the small coastal village of Vila Nova. She was born in the rock walled home, her father, Francisco and her Tio Janeiro had built years before. Francisco had returned to the island after making his journey to America. He had worked on a dairy farm side by side with his brother Gilberto. Although it was very uncommon for people to return from America, he had promised his mother that he would come back to the island one day, and he made good with his promise. He met my grandmother, Maria Adelaide, soon after, and they made Vila Nova their home.

My mother was the third daughter born to my grandparents. Unfortunately, both of her sisters had died before their 1st birthday due to an infestation of ecoli found in milk products, that plagued the island in the early 1930's. Both of the sisters born before were lovingly named Aida, but when my mother was born, my grandfather insisted that this time, this daughter would be named Ana.

My grandfather Francisco, from what I've heard was quite the character. He had an infectious personality, and was a very comical and jovial young man. He loved children, and like many people of his generation, he loved carnival. His passion was his writing "dancas do carnival", and he was known throughout the island for his talent of writing verses. His passion for writing started at a young age, always reaching for his notebook and pencil at his side, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night, because a verse that would pop his head. He just had to write it down, or he might forget it by morning! My grandmother had told my mother that there were many sleepless nights due to her father's need to write. One of his first verses/poems he had first written, as a child was entitled, ironically, "Ana."

Unfortunately, my mother would never to know her father. My grandfather passed away from throat cancer when my mother was only months old. My mother was to only know of her father by recollections of her mother, and those by her many aunts and uncles, and family friends. My grandmother, Maria Adelaide, who found herself a widow at the age of 27, soon was married again a few years later to the only grandfather I would ever know, Jose. Jose was a good man, and a loving husband and father to my mother. He was a good friend of my grandfather's, and would speak about him often to my mother. This union also brought another sibling! My mother now had a younger sister, who my grandmother lovingly named, Aida---my dearest aunt.

My mother lived, for what I'm guessing, in the shadow of her father's death for a long time. Her father had died at a fairly young age, and people spoke about him and his talent constantly. The village missed him, and they missed his music. You could say he was almost some sort of celebrity from the village that was taken away too soon. Perhaps they were waiting to see something of my grandfather's talent come out of my mother. My mother was a pretty, brown eyed girl who people found a bit shy, but did possess some of her grandfather's talent. She enjoyed being on stage. Her passion was singing and theatre, and she was good at it. She was also quite the fashionista. Sometimes there would be parcels in the mail sent from America from an Aunt with beautiful dresses inside. They were handy downs, but my mother, who is an excellent seamtress, made "it work." A cousin visiting from America had once told her parents upon seeing one of my mother's plays,

"If she was born in America, she would be like our Marilyn Monroe."

(Okay, my mother told me and my sister this years ago, but to this day, she denies it. But it is true! So from time to time, we tease my mom and call her "Marilyn", but we are doing it out of love...nothing else.)

Yes, my mother had many admirers. She would sometimes talk to them from a high window on Thursdays and Sunday afternoons. There was this guy that lived in the city, and that guy who was from Lisbon, and that soccer player, oh and let's not forget that guy named Lorenco, but from what I've heard, I think her only true boyfriend was my father.

My father was in the American military at the time he first met my mom. He was stationed at the American base in Lajes purely on a fluke! His tonsils had to be removed, and because of that, he was not sent to Korea as originally planned. He was to be stationed at the island. Ironically he was stationed on the island of his parent's birthplace, where there were many cousins to visit! Ironically, my mother's step-father was one of them. My mother was only 15 when she first saw my father, 7 years her senior, standing there in her kitchen in military uniform. It was love at first sight for my dad.

Years passed on, and many letters were written to my mother, with no reply. Eventually, my mother got older, and kissed my dad for the first time. In her words, "He is the only man I've ever kissed!" (Oh, if only it was that easy for all of us.) My parents got married on the island, and after the birth of my oldest brother, Eddy, they went to live in California. It would be 15 years until my parents would return to the island with their children.

There have been good times, and tragedies in my mom's life, but my mom is one of the strongest women I know. She can drive you crazy with her compulsion for high heels and JcPenny clothes shopping, but she is my mom, and I wouldn't trade her in for anybody else. I fondly remember trips to the Azores as a child, where my mom had at trunk full of just shoes. My father would complain, and they would argue each time, but the arguments always ended in roars of laughter. There has been a void in her life since my father has passed away, and that void cannot easily be filled. Life does go on however, and she has proven that it does.

Happy Birthday Mom!! Let's make it another 40 would not be the same without you!


Sherms said...

Happy Birthday "Marilyn Monroe"! I always love the pictures you post of your mother.

Wouldn't it be nice if you never had to kiss any frogs, only your prince charming!

Sherms xx

Coelha :B said...

Thanks Sherms... I have pictures I need to post--wish I had them all at my disposal, but most of them are at my mom's house.. :)
"Marilyn" says thank you..