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To my Dad
To my Mom

July 29, 2006

To my Mom

No honest and ethical job is too low for anybody

My mom was the (then) typical stay-at-home wife. Add to that the assistance of a full time maid and you have a lady of leisure. She was a society lady. Always organizing parties and social events. Being able to show her culinary abilities in front of her friends was one of her sources of pride and joy; therefore he joined all kind of courses. The parties, being fully staffed with assistants did not needed her services. She did not do it to save money, she did it for pure pleasure. If anything she needed something to do with her time.

Fast forward to July 19, 1979. Suddenly, we became almost destitute. My dad was captured by the communists that toke power. All our assets in the country were confiscated. In the months prior to our flight, my mom had been socking away some money. Since she was doing it without my dad knowledge, the amounts had to be small.

After she could recovered from the emotional blow that the fall of the government, and all that meant for us, she had to decide the path to take in order to take care of herself, my younger brother and myself. She, who barely had to work before, was now the main breadwinner. All with the burden of the uncertainty about the man she loved. We were never sure if we would see my dad again. At any moment we could receive notice of his death. I will never know what were her thoughts during the whole ordeal. This is only my personal opinion.

The nuns that were in charged of the school I was attending (the same school I was enrolled when we lived in Honduras until 1974), gave her the administration of the school's cafeteria. She bought a brand-new Datsun pickup (the same I wrote about in my Automotive Series essays), talked with the cafeteria suppliers and used her previous life knowledge to come up with meals and desserts that were both, desired by the customers and profitable products for her.

Her people skills gained her better deals from suppliers and the appreciation of most of her customers. We had 2 half hour breaks per school day, one at 10:00 and another at 12:00. My friends and I helped her on the first break (rush hour). I did it because as direct stakeholder I had an interest in increasing the cafeteria's revenue, and also for the "fringe benefits". My friends did it out of appreciation for my mom and also for being exposed to the girls.

After the school day was over we would go to buy supplies for all the food and deserts that my mom would prepare herself, either at home (the desserts) or at the cafeteria with the assistance of one full time employee and one part time. Once we got home she would sit at a table to count the money, do the book keeping and separate the capital needed for operations from "our" share. Then, she would go to the kitchen to bake, bake and bake our way through life...

That rut ended the year after I graduated from that school. She then dipped into our savings to purchase commercial grade baking equipment, hired a full time baker and started selling cakes, pastries and cookies in mini markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, mom-and-pop grocers (known in our countries as "pulperias"). Her day started very early in the wee hours of the morning and ended very late. Although she had the help of a full time baker, she still had to bake and apply finishing. She made the deliveries all around the city and the purchases of supplies for the business.

Mother's day was the busiest time of the year. She would hire temporal help to make, package and deliver hundreds of mother's-day cakes mainly to merchants in the big flea-market. That Datsun pick up was doing round trips all day for the three day that preceded the second Sunday of May. Although I was in college full time, I helped a little, accommodating the cakes in the truck bed (we had removable platforms and a full camper cover), driving the truck to the market and guarding it while my mom was away delivering the products.

Some times, on weekends I would also help delivering products around the city.

The 80's were not our financial finest hour. We had so many challenges. We knew treachery, were robed by those who were supposed to help us. Worse yet, our good name was muddied and even customers were driven away by people close to us; people to whom my mom lend a helping hand. But my mom never gave up hope for a brighter future. We also had the understanding and support from people who became dear friends later on.

I never felt ashamed to perform any kind of job because unconsciously, I was taught that all jobs have dignity. Even in the days were my mom was a lady of leisure, she always treated the help with dignity, human warm, and even some "irreverent" familiarity. She never allowed us to treat them otherwise and she (or my dad) would not hesitate to use the belt on us if we did disrespected them.

Her legacy to me is what I wrote at the top: No honest and ethical job is to low for me to perform. Latter in life I encountered countless examples of people who subscribe to the exact opposite. You know, "status". In 1986 I obtained a degree in Architecture and in 1989 my professional license. However the bulk of my income came from what I called technical assistance. Others called me a glorified drafter. Instead of "being a professional" I was "merely" working in an "inferior" type of job. While I was concentrating on the bottom line (the money), they were focusing their attention to the status.

My mom, a former lady of leisure transformed into a hard working person taught me better.

I don't know what went inside her during these times. In her attempt to provide us with hope she had to try to hide her fears and pain from being deprived of the love of her life, with the responsibility of two sons to take care of in addition to herself. We seldom talked about our inner problems. I never bothered her with mine. I dealt with them by myself. She was sacrificing herself to provide us with an education. My job was to make the best of her gift to us.

In 1989 the life of my mom started to turn around again. After a period of adaptation my dad was able to get a job in the private sector. Although not immediately, my mom stopped working and became, once again, a stay-at-home wife. She did a fine job with us. From the bottom of my heart I say to her: "Thank you very much for everything!"

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