Friday, March 07, 2008

In Memoriam - To my mother



She came to this world bearing the name of an aunt who had died of pneumonia as a child in Siberia, bearing a Jewish sounding surname, to find herself with an older brother, a young Mexican mother from Guadalajara, a Russian father from Harbin (China) who was fleeing the devastation of his second home (Kobe) by an earthquake, and a severe looking grandmother from Odessa.

She grew up with a Spanish sounding surname, from her mother's second marriage to a simple, loving man from northern Mexico. She was independent, had her own car, liked dancing, wigs and would marry when she was already past 30, to a man (himself the 6th child of parents who had left their sleepy Otero de las Dueñas, in Spain, for a better life in Mexico) who flirtingly had a piece of chocolate cake sent over to her table at a café.

She conceived her first child in New York (on a trip, with her husband) and, nervous for this being her first, she trusted his birth in Mexico City to Saint Thaddaeus. She soon gave him a younger sister, in Torreón (northern Mexico), a place she had to move to because of her husband's job, a place she arrived to in anger for having to leave her home in Mexico City, yet a place she left in the saddest of tears when it was time to move back to the big city. This second child she'd name after that aunt she never met. And finally, out of the blue, a third child, who'd be called after that grandfather from Otero de las Dueñas he'd never meet.

On top of her children, she'd have an additional two pieces of joy from her daughter: a granddaughter and a grandson.

After so many years she gave each of us joys that only each would have the right to reveal. And so, I'll limit myself to three precious little bits, a few among many:

- my first step into "child-adulthood": the very first time she gave me to drink from a glass and not a baby bottle. What a momentous occasion for me at the time, that I can so well remember it.
- my first injection of wanderlust and fascination for polyglots and other countries, when she trusted me, when I was 12, with the story of her Russian father, a story that had been kept secret for all the shame that her mother's divorce had brought at a time when those things were simply not done.
- the awakening of my passion for languages, when she gave me some booklets and tapes for learning German and Italian, when I was 18.

And, of course, she gave me the joy of visiting us, at our then home, Beirut, and sharing a glass or two after visiting seaside castles and Roman ruins...

and the joy of visiting years later, at our then home, Beijing, and sharing with utmost pleasure sweets, temples, and the Great Wall, plus a fun and romantic trip with my father to Hong Kong and Macau...

and she even waited for me so I could get to Mexico for her birthday in February this year, and so I could spend a whole week doting on her, chatting, watching tv with her, doing nothing together, and just giving back some of all the attentions and love I had always had, and even letting me, and only me, take pictures of her happily being smothered by her three loving children...

She finally left us, in her sleep, on March 7th, three months after being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.

*Note from October 12th, 2011:  For privacy reasons, I've decided to remove names and surnames from this post, unfortunately robbing it of some of its original strength and rhythm.