When mother and I arrived in Findlay, I was only 18. My main concerns were learning from my studies as well as from experiencing a different culture and a foreign environment. So many things were new and interesting: living in a dorm with English speaking friends; learning how to shop for winter clothes; budgeting my time so that I had time for classes, studying and socializing. The most appealing part of my life was my independence. I was able now to make my own decisions, the beginning of a life as a grown up.
My mother was also going through her own transition which I understand more now as a woman than I did as a teenager. She had not wanted to stay in Nicaragua living with my uncle’s family. By this time, she was divorced from her husband, my brother was studying in Brazil and I would be staying in Findlay. She saw that she was done with what she thought was her main purpose in life – to be a wife and mother. Now, she had to move on to a new life – the unknown.
As I had said before, she had friends in Los Angeles that would help her find a job. So, her plan was to stay with me for a few weeks and then travel to LA to find her new life. We were both making transitions, mine more joyful that hers. After being with me for a month, she took the bus to Los Angeles. I remember how tearful she was to leave me behind. I also think that she was feeling very much alone.
Her experience is not unique. How many women have seen their lives upended because of a divorce and later having their children move on to college, to a job in a new town or to start a life with a new spouse. I am sure many can relate. There are so many good movies that tell stories of transitions: life after divorce; life for the empty nester; life after retirement – you name it, there are always lessons to learn, through a mucky process where you open up to the new with trepidation and hopefully you learn from the experience.
Mother’s friends were very welcoming and allowed her to stay with them until she found a job. Adilia was the supervisor at a dress factory. She helped mother find a job at the same factory and provided transportation for her to and from work. Later my mother rented a studio apartment in the same building as her friends. I used to visit her there and slept in the sofa bed.
While visiting her, I remember and instance when she was sewing something with the back door open to allow for fresh air during the hot LA summer. A couple of Jehovah witnesses came through the back door to tell us about their mission. I was polite to them and began to listen much to my mother’s dismay. Everything that she learned growing up Catholic instructed her to throw them out. As I became interested, she became very irritated with them and with me. Since the door was open it was hard to get rid of them. I don’t remember how this situation ended. Probably she asked them to leave in no uncertain terms.
She began to take English as a Second Language classes in the evening at the Adult School. That told me that she was moving on with becoming adjusted and engaged in American society. With English she could listen to English language television, read the mainstream newspaper and popular magazines – maybe even get a better job. She was most interested in current events and fashion.
I remember her as a beautiful woman, smart and outspoken, curious and persistent, a real survivor to everything that had come her way, except for cancer. She died at the age of 56. I think that she was taken way too early.