Our life was about having fun, enjoying dinner out on weekends, going for an ice cream 1 or 2 nights a week, and my favorite part: sunday afternoons. I have to admit, sunday mornings were very VERY difficult for my brother and I because we had to be at church for the prasing time at 7:30am, so we had to wake up at 6am. Unacceptable for teenagers! But after church my mom cooked lunch while my dad grabbed the machete to bring down coconuts from the two palm trees in the front yard of our house. Then the early awake was worth it.
It was not easy for my mother to deal with my dad’s family but they worked it out. It was usual to hear them laughing at night behind their closed room door. They both had jobs. They drove home for lunch, so we could all eat together after our schoolday. We used to go to the amusement parks in the United States or make a road trip into Panama provinces for holidays. Believe it or not, my brother and I never heard them fighting or yelling or calling names to each other. We knew they were going to figure something out when they said: “we’ll have a conversation in our room, come back later”, we heard nothing. It was forbidden to watch TV or play on the computer or cellphone while sitting at the table, “meal time is family time, to talk, to share with each other”, my dad would say.
Don’t get me wrong, we had tough times as any other average family does. Surprisingly, my brother “never had any homework” and he would get bad grades through the whole year until the threat of failing the academic year was imminent. Then you’d see him reading a little but never really worried. Me, our parents didn’t have to chase me for school grades but they had to visit the principal office often because of my misbehaviour. Well, I always tried to tell my dad he was summoned by the principal, not my mom. He used to hug me smiling and say: “Oh, daughter behave yourself”, with a tone of complicity.
March 15th, 2002 arrived and took my dad. Later came June 17th 2006 and snatched my brother. But this piece of writing is not about how I felt in relation to it but about how my mother dealt with all that. The time came for me to study abroad and she had the house to herself, alone. I came back and married a foreigner who later was transferred to yet another country because of work, seven hours by plane from home. Although my mom is an independent and professional, successful woman with a strong character and outgoing personality, I was certain that even though it appears otherwise, loneliness made her sad.
As a church leader, in case she had a romantic relationship she had to keep it low-profile because of the role model she is supposed to be and all the religious rules to which she is subjected to. I do not agree with much of that but this is not the subject of this text either. In the distance I suspected that she was dating but it was in December 2015 that she confirmed it to me. I won’t lie, I was afraid that maybe this person would take advantage of her success or maybe won’t make her happy (but the opposite) and if this happened I wouldn’t be there to protect her or help her. But on the other side I had hope.
In my few visits back home, I got the chance to see them together and speak my heart and my fears to my mamma and speak openly to her boyfriend too. I got into a process where I had to accept, as a daughter, that I had no right to decide what my mother should do or not do. I had to take my place and support her and wait for the best. So, at 60, there was no time for her to lose and after almost 14 years single, she got married on July the 2nd. I shared some words at the toast which I want to share here too.
Where I come from it’s very rare for a widow to re-marry, although not as uncommon for a widower. People would say to the aged single women “se te fue el tren” or “you missed the train” frase that connotes you missed your chance on love and as consequence you’ll be single until the day you die. Tough luck! Society makes us believe this, to the point that we close ourselves for any opportunity. Society can be mean and some people too but life is not. We must rest assured that there are second, third, fourth opportunities and more, to rebuild, fall in love and succeed.
In the case of my mother, she says that the good experience in her first marriage kept her on her feet and with no fear of accepting a second chance with love. She knows there are bad men but we should never forget there are good men too, she advices me. “As long as there is life, there is hope” she says. During the 14 years as a widow I knew of two or three suitors she had but I know she took the time to get to know them and make the right choice of letting them go, until she met her current husband.
I’m certain that all the good and amazing things that happen to my mother are product of the goodness she shows to all people and her positive attitude towards the bad experiences. She is such a gentle and kind person that life payed her back with this new chance. I wish that every person who has a mother, aunt, grandmother or friend (female or male) who is single for whatever reason and is also disheartened about the future and surrendered to loneliness, can encourage that person to believe in second, third and million chances. No one will build a train station for a train to pass just once. Trains will pass until they break down and get fixed. Even when they no longer work another train will be bought so there will always be a train. It’s not different with love. Make mistakes and correct them. Improve yourself. Be good being yourself. Believe.
Selfie: me, mamá, auntie and friend preening for my mom’s wedding last saturday.