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Mindy Learns (part four)

It's been many years now. I've been to college and received my degree. My job now is teaching young people. It's a rewarding way to make a living. It's a fine and honorable thing to spend one's life forming the personalities of youths. My students give me a great deal of pleasure. My daughter gives me even more. She sometimes reminds people of me. I don't always see it, but they tell me that her quick mind is similar to mine at the same age. Perhaps so. I do know that she is my life right now. Her father and I had our problems and we don't share a life anymore. But we do share a wondrous child. That is enough for me.

She is teaching me what is most important in this life of mine. To raise up a child in the right way and see them prosper. Could anything be more life affirming? I think not, and I rejoice that I have been given this gift. My brother Gary was not given this gift. Well, he made an informed decision, and decided he didn't wish to bring any children into our world. Many don't understand his choice. I sometimes don't myself. But living one's life the best one can is to be admired, I am sure. Gary has lived well, and done well, for himself and his family.

We were both lucky to have shared a beautiful lady for our mother. She gave herself entirely for us, and she lived a life of drudgery and pain. But her regrets never included her children. I was happy about that. And I was happy that her last days were spent with family around her. Cancer plays no favorites. And doctors who make mistakes are found everywhere. I could be bitter about her last year if I wanted the negative feelings in my life. But it does no good, and I want positive feelings only around myself and those I love. At least that's what I think.

My mother was born into poverty during the Great Depression. She spent most of her life living in austerity. But it was not completely without pleasure and joy. Her parents were always there for her, even if they had little enough to give. My Meme and Pepe took her and her children in when her marriage failed. It happens so often now. What a pity people cannot find someone to share this life with for their entire lives. But we do what we can to make life bearable. And children can help. I know we were always the joy in Mom's life. She told us so, and I believed her. I did finally reconcile with my father. I think that was best.

Gary was a good teacher when I was young. He had definite ideas and beliefs, but he never forced them on me. I was shown how to examine and test and learn on my own. And I formed my own conclusions. We often disagreed, but love never faltered. I knew my opinions mattered, even if they differed from his. That was true in the whole family. We are all different, all individuals, and we all had our own beliefs.

It was funny how we could all differ so much and still fit together as a family. There was never any doubt that family was most important. The one thing I truly learned to believe was that bigotry could not be part of my belief system. It has stood up well over the years. I still think about what I believe. I'm pretty sure I'm right about most things. I could be wrong about some things, but not about never allowing hate into my heart.

Meme and Pepe left us back in the 1970s. But Mom was with us up until the first decade of the 21st century. She lived on her own most of the time, but sometimes she would live with a child for awhile. It was a pleasure to have her in one's home. The Lord knows she made the best home for us that she could. And seeing her granddaughter was her greatest joy, after her own children, of course. It was such a blow when she finally told us of her symptoms.

The worst had happened. Mom was diagnosed with cancer. You don't really need to know all of the details. You have probably lived through something very similar yourself. This disease does not discriminate. It finds someone to strike in almost every family. We were rather unlucky in this respect. Meme had fallen to cancer. So had more than one great-aunt, and other female members of our family. It seemed to bypass the men. They were more susceptible to passing from heart disease.

We fought it, you must know that. So many doctors and hospitals. And nursing homes, when taking care of Mom became so terribly difficult and time consuming. It broke my heart to see her there. I will admit that I came close to losing my mind. I knew I loved her. I didn't understand how deeply I needed her in my life. That's what I learned in such a horrible way. My Mom was my life. But I forced myself to live for my daughter. She did so depend upon me. She still does, that is certain, and will until she reaches her maturity.

Mom passed away on International Women's Day. That was so fitting. She had been the epitome of the loving and kind woman. She was the closest thing to a perfect mother that I believe I will ever see. Her love was unwavering. Her life wasn't long enough, but it was remarkable, nonetheless. She had lived all over this country of ours, traveling during the Depression, and then following a husband where ever he had to go for work. Finally she traveled to find work on her own, to care for her children. She did well. She was a good and faithful servant.

Around her bed during the final hours of her life were gathered those who loved her. Her way was smoothed as much as possible. I think she passed with some joy in her heart, along with regrets that she couldn't see the younger ones grow up and become wonderful people. I don't doubt I will see her again. I have thought about that.

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