Sometimes leaving the ones you love and everything you know behind is the only way to elevate in life.
My mom knows this too well. She grew up in Jamaica and raised both my brother and me there until the time came when she had to leave. Not only for herself but because she knew that Jamaica would not be the right place for us to grow up if she wanted us to have a better life than she did.
My mom did something that took a lot of courage and bravery. She left us behind in the care of our father and came to the states to prepare a better life for us.
I was a baby and my brother was about 12-years-old. She told me that sometimes she would look at me and cry because she knew what she had to do, and she knew I would not understand until I was much older.
Now that I’m older, I understand her sacrifice and how much guts it took to leave everything she knew and walk into a whole new life.
The United States was a new world for my mom. Jamaica isn’t as updated with technology as America is and the opportunities that I have here I wouldn’t be able to have if I stayed down there. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her sacrifice.
My mom is one of nine children. They lived in the ghetto of Jamaica, in an old house that wasn’t built well, with a zinc rooftop – nothing like the houses of today. There were no washing machines, so everything was hand-washed, and they had a bathroom outside of the house that was made of stone. My mom had one pair of shoes and one outfit to go to school in, and she had to make sure it was washed every two days so that it stayed clean throughout each school day, and if it didn’t, she would get a beating. My mom didn’t live with her parents for very long. She moved to her aunt’s house where she lived for a short period of time before moving again.
My mom was on her own from the age of 15.
Now, fast forward to her giving birth to me and her big decision to leave. It didn’t happen randomly. My mom was a devout Christian when she was younger, always praising God, reading her bible, and going to church. That stopped after she met my Dad. She went to church less, but she did make sure she raised her children in her faith. So, when she was pregnant with me is when she says she heard God speak to her. She heard Him tell her to get a Visa and travel to America. It wasn’t her first time hearing His voice say this, but she said that at that particular time, he yelled at her to get it and it frightened her so much that she left work right away.
Getting a visa is usually a very hard and long process, but for her it wasn’t. As she was waiting, she noticed a lady staring at her and when it was her time to go up to the window, the lady asked her where she got her skirt. My mom told her that it was her mother’s skirt, and since that day, my mom calls it her lucky charm. Every time she wears it she gets lucky. When she wore it that day, she got her Visa right away. Other people sometimes couldn’t get their’s and had to come back multiple times.
When she came to America, she worked nonstop buying stuff and saving it for us. After a couple of years, we finally made it to America. We had everything we needed: jewelry, clothes, and shoes, all waiting for us.
If it wasn’t for the grace of God and her obedience to His voice, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be trying to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. I would have been held back by the stress of poverty and the fact that I would have fewer opportunities than I have now. America has always been a land of opportunity for me; a place where you can make a better life for yourself and your family, just like my mom did.
So, this is me thanking my mom for leaving all she had ever known: her family and her friends, and stepping into a world of unknown for us.
One day, we’ll walk the sandy beaches of Jamaica together and she’ll remember the pain she had to endure for us; the things she couldn’t afford to buy herself because we needed books or clothes for school; the bags she had to carry from the grocery store by herself all the way from the Bronx to Queens. She’ll remember not having all she has now and she might even feel the pain again, but she’ll look up and realize that it was all worth it.
Now she has everything she needs and more. One day, I’ll be able to show her that it wasn’t all in vain and that she overcame so that we could rise up just like our ancestors before her. She endured so I wouldn’t have to and I promise I’ll make her proud.
But until then, thank you from the bottom of my heart for every little thing you have done and continue to do for us.
I love you always, Mom.