My mother was the strongest person I have ever known. The earliest thing I can remember is getting up with Mum and Dad at the crack of dawn; Dad to go to work, and Mum to drop Adam off at school (he was in first grade by then). I had often wondered when I was little why I had to get up so early like everyone else. Now that I'm older, I figured out that it was for a number of reasons (which kept multiplying as I got older), the first being that my mother did not want to leave me home alone at four years old. The second being that she wanted me to get used to getting up so early so that I would be used to it when I started school.
My mother was a smart lady. She always figured out fun ways to get me to clean up my room or brush my teeth or take a bath even though I loathed all three at an early age. By the time I was eleven though, I often thought it was fun and could not wait to do them.
But it was not just because of this that she was smart. She always knew how to give the right advice. When I was seven, I often came home crying from school, because, back then, I was a bit chubby and my peers ruthlessly picked on me. My mother would hold me in her arms, push back my long hair from my face, and wiped away my tears as I told her what happened. My mother gave the right advice so many times, it was if she had been right there with me when it happened. Being little, I would sometimes whine about my weight, and then my mother would tell me that she had once been like me. When I was this little I did not believe it, because at the time, I looked nothing like her. She was tall and thin with long mousy brown hair and blue eyes, and I was short and stubby with short nearly black hair and green eyes. (People often thought I was adopted because Dad looks nothing like me either.) One day, when I was nine, and the children at school were still picking on me, my mother brought out an old photo album that I had never seen before.
Then she singled-out a photo of a chubby girl with boy-short blond hair who was about my age. "That was me," she said. "I lost the weight that you now have, but it took me a long time." I just looked at her in a kind of trance. "Now, you may lose your weight and you may not. Either way, I think you will grow up to be a beautiful young lady like I did, my mother did, my grandmothers did, and my great-grandmothers did. And you should not care if anyone says otherwise. It's not their problem anyway."
Needless to say, it stopped the crying about my weight from that day forth, but something in my heart something was not right with Mum: she never talked about her family, and I had never seen them. All Adam and I had ever known was Dad's side of the family. Whenever I asked about it, Dad would say something very vague like "They live on the other side of the world." and leave it at that.
My Mother was very sad. When I was little, Mum used to cry at the end of movies that we would watch together. Adam and I at that time did not know why, and Mum said she did not know as well, but the look in Dad's eyes always said something different. When I was ten, I figured that maybe it had to do with her family. The only real time she ever talked about them in detail was when she was talking about why I look the way I do: I had her mother's eyes and her father's hair. She said that I was the true child of her parents, just like Adam was a true child of her and Nate was a true child of Dad.
When I was eleven, my mother gave us Nate, and due to some complications during the birth, died soon after. I remember it was at the time of the funeral that I had asked my father about her sadness. He said he would tell me when I was older. Apparently, "older" to him, meant sixteen. By this time, Adam was already off to university, and Nate was in Kindergarten. It was strange. Just one day, out of the blue, my father sat me down and told me the story of my mother. You see, my parents met "on the other side of the world", where my mother lived. They fell in love, but my father had to return home. My mother saved up for a long time just to get here, so that when she took the plane here, she knew she would probably never see her family again, which was right. My parents had talked about going back, and having her family meet us, but they figured it was too expensive. On top of this, my mother had long ago lost touch with her family and did not even know if they lived in the same place or not. So they never went.
My mother was the strongest person I have ever known. She fought her way from the other side of the world, against all odds, knowing she would never see her family again, all for my father. And if my mother had not been so strong, I do not think I would be here today, telling you her story.