Saturday, September 11, 2010

For Ima, with gratitude

Happy Birthday, Eileen! Happy Birthday to us!

One of the pleasures of knowing Eileen is how I've come to appreciate her 81yr old Mom, Betty. Manang Betty has just completed her memoir and it will soon be published. Eileen has chronicled her Mom's return to a first love - writing. With Eileen as editor, it is also a conversation between mother and daughter.

I am vicariously enjoying Manang Betty's blossoming as a writer at 81 because my mother was also a writer. But I didn't recognize this early enough and when I finally did, she was old and tired and her memory not so good. For years I sent her blank journals and I asked her to write and fill the pages with everything and anything she wanted to. When she died, I took the journals and transcribed the pages and created a book and gave them to my family. While the gesture of doing this was to memorialize our mother, some of the things she wrote about created a little bit of squabbling between siblings who wanted to set my mother's memories right.  Of course, we later on realized that what matters more is that we now know some of the secrets she kept to herself - some painful, some sad - and how should we heal this grief in her and in us. The happy and funny parts were easy to recall and we constantly remind each other of our mother's quick wit and dry humor.

What if I had known sooner that my mother had this gift of writing? Oh so many questions...
Today I remember my mother with gratitude. She may not have published book, but she has authored my life and 5 other siblings. She wrote me.

Tomorrow as I sign books at the Festival in Los Angeles, I will be signing my mother's name: Esperanza.

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