Taking a brief break from my sabbatical to jot down a few thoughts about my mother. I think I’ll just write them randomly. My mother arrived in this country in a shoe box, crossing over from Mexicali with her parents and older siblings. She grew up poor, worked as a migrant fruit picker, until she met and married my father, and started a small taco stand in East Los Angeles, after working in the factories during WW2. She had an 8th grade education, yet read voraciously. Eventually, she returned to school and became a vocational counselor to our growing Vietnamese community. She raised four children, lost one as a newborn. After my father’s death, she retired to San Juan Capistrano and lived there until Alzeimers robbed her of her independence. She died shortly after entering an assisted living center. I am comforted by the fact that she ate a favorite chocolate candy, then went to nap and passed peacefully in her sleep. She deserved that.
While the above may contain the particulars of her 80 yr life, it would be impossible to understand what a remarkable woman she was. Lucille was the type of woman that, if you showed up at her door at 3:00 a.m., she would make you feel that your visit was the highlight of her day, because it was. My mother loved unconditionally, I think this fact alone made her the most Christian person I ever knew, yet I can’t recall her ever setting foot in a church. She loved everyone like family. I mean everyone. Our house was always full of people, friends, family, and strangers, even, though I believe no one ever felt like a stranger for long in my mother’s home. She would happily cook for 1 or 100, it really didn’t matter to her. When I came home from school, or later, when I would just drop by to visit, she would head to the stove, and warm tortillas with butter magically appeared on a plate.
My mom taught me to drive, and to cook. She taught me to welcome people into my home, and to make visitors feel special. She was a hard worker, and she loved parties, especially when she could dance. She and my father were cha cha champions, and even as a young child it was clear to me that my mother was a great dancer. She had a beautiful voice, though she didn’t care to be caught singing.
I miss you, Mom. If I could choose any set of parents for another go-around on this Earth, I would pick you and Dad every time. I miss you both, but today is dedicated to you. You can rest now, secure in knowing that your grandchildren will know as much about you as I do. I love you, Mom.