My Belated Mothers Day Message

I realize this is a few days late. I started writing it on the week preceding Mothers Day, but as with all my writing, my dual careers prevented me from finishing it. I’ve resorted recently to posting three lines to accompany other people’s writing. I should really stop doing that. I used to be a pretty prolific blogger, but that was just a hobby. My moneymaking careers take precedence, supporting three college students n’ all. I really would like to give one of them up, but I digress.

Mothers Day. My mother’s name is Heyda Lucia Torres. At one time she was Heyda Lucia Hubble and then (I think) Heyda Lucia Torres de Vazquez. She was born in 1940. She would be horrified that I put that out there as if anyone looking at her wouldn’t get that she’s going to be 71 years old this year. How she got there mystifies me, and her doctors. She likes to say that it’s because she follows her doctor’s orders. That if he told her to eat a daily turd wrapped in seaweed that’s precisely what she’d do. I know, the imagery is pretty bad, but I’m trying to paint an accurate picture here.

Heyda is a dancer. She doesn’t dance much since she suffered a massive stroke in 1978 at the young age of 37. The stroke left her with a pronounced limp and limited use of her left hand, which she refers to as her “claw”. But she remains a dancer in her heart and soul. In her youth she danced briefly on television as part of a troupe of dancers on a variety show. My stern grandmother only allowed her to do this if she attended Beautician College after the season was over. She did, but she never worked as a beautician. Here is one of the most valuable lessons I learned from my mother although she did not teach it to me directly. Never give up on your dreams, regardless of how ridiculous they may seem to others. Your dreams are God’s gifts. This is a biblical principle by the way. How much more insane can a dream get than Abraham and Sarah’s dream of having children in their 90’s?

I believe my mother always regretted not becoming a dancer. It is probably her only major regret, but may have been the catalyst for how she has lived since. Instead, at the tender age of 18, she married a young Army specialist who was stationed in Puerto Rico at the time. His name was Garry Lee Hubble. They proceeded to have four children in their almost 12 years together. I’m the second one.

Through the course of her life my mother lived what most women dream of and also dread. She travelled extensively in her youth as an Army wife and lived with an alcoholic during that time. She raised her children with a permissiveness she wished she had as a child and didn’t have (apparently her sister and her were referred to as the “nuns of Condado”). She is a rebel at heart. She decided after two marriages that she would no longer take any crap from any man, which loosely translates into she would not be accountable to any relationship convention.

Ironically, she complains of being alone. I don’t think she’s putting the pieces together. I remember once after arguing with my wife, my mother, who was visiting, proceeded to give me “relationship advice”. It occurred to me that my relationship with my wife at the time was longer than any my mother had ever had. In fact, I had at that time lived with my wife longer than I had lived with my mother. When I pointed out the irony of her offering me that advice she replied that just because she didn’t know how to make a relationship last didn’t mean she didn’t know how to advise one on how to do so. Then she pointed out how stubborn I was being. It still cracks me up.

As a mother she is as fallible and imperfectly human as can be. My siblings are less forgiving, but I have come to terms with her. Just as my father she is almost completely self-absorbed. What she defined as “giving her children freedom” I translate as her not wanting to put in the hard work that a supervising parent must do to guide their young children through the travails of youth. We pretty much raised ourselves; left to our own devices as it were. It still surprises me that we survived our own creativity. How we all wound up productive members of society probably has as much to do with nature as with nurturing.

The greatest thing I can say about her parenting skills was this. In all my developing years I never once heard her say a negative thing about me. Not one. Even when I screwed up it was all about the behavior and not me personally. In her mind’s eye we were the princes and princess of Puerto Rico. We were the funniest, handsomest, prettiest, smartest of all. My sister took some criticism in her teens, but even then it was the result of my mother knowing that being a woman on the island was tough and you had to be tough to survive it. You just cannot underestimate the powerful impact of this kind of positive reinforcement. If you’re not careful you could wind up a little narcissistic (of course marriage will beat that out of you in due time). In the end, this self image is critical.

This self image is also the way she carries herself. She sees herself through a different prism than the rest of us. As you can see from the photo, my mother was breathtakingly beautiful in her youth. She had classic latina features and a very buxom build when that was still fashionable. Based on her wardrobe, I believe she still thinks she has that same body. Based on her behavior I believe she still thinks she is that age. Near as I can tell she has been reliving her youth for the past 32 years. This could very well be the secret to her longevity. Most women can do with a little dose of her self image.

I love my mother unconditionally as well, even though she annoys me to no end. To her friends and most people who meet her she is the Pied Piper. She has an incredible knack for making others feel pretty darned good about themselves and she leaves an indelible mark on them. I’ve never met a person who after meeting her has anything but glowing remarks about her. She has completely captivated the Sunday School class she attends every time she visits me. In fact, I believe the only people she annoys other than me are my siblings, and the men in her brief relationships.

A few years back I invited her to move in with me as she is on a very tight budget with her fixed SSI income and a monthly stipend from me. Also, and this is my opinion, she’s probably well past the point where she can take care of herself properly. Her response to this invitation was “I’m not dead yet”. I try not to overanalyze the fact that my mother equates moving in with me with death. I am clear that she believes I’m somewhat of a party pooper.

She has informed us that if it gets to the point where she can no longer take care of herself that we are to put her in one of those “Homes”. Of course in her mind that time is ten to twenty years off. I suspect that a decision will have to be made sooner than later. I will say this, whatever home she lands in will be forever changed by Hurricane Heyda. Whether for the good or bad would be a matter of opinion, but I’m clear the menfolk of that facility will be walking taller, dressing better and combing their sparse hairs more often. She still seems to have that effect on men. I myself am not looking forward to that day. It’s very possible that I wish I could see her through her own eyes.

Happy Mothers Day Mami. Que Dios te bendiga siempre.

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