Mothering the motherless

My dear friend Romelia had just turned thirty when she died in 2004. Her five children, ranging in age from 5 through 16, were now orphans, and I promised Romelia I would always care for them. At the time of her mother’s passing, the oldest child, Rosenda, was 16 and had a four month-old baby named Julia Maria. This meant that I had suddenly become both a mother and a grandmother in my mid-thirties.

A child herself, Rosenda had no real idea how to mother a new baby – how to bathe her, how to care for her – and she had just lost the one person who would have been her guide. Rosenda and I have learned a great deal together over the past thirteen years. Now she has two bright young girls and although she faces the challenges of raising them as a single parent, I’m impressed by her desire to continually strive to improve her parenting skills. She returned to middle school and then high school when her girls were still small, and she is currently a university student as well as founder of our adult literacy program. I am so proud of the woman Rosenda has become: thoughtful, reflective, always expressing her gratitude, open-hearted and ready to listen. Intuitive, wise, and eager to learn she is evolving into an incredible teacher and guide. Our rich history together make her Mother’s Day words to me particularly poignant. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share another look into the depth and breadth of the work we do in Guatemala and the love that sustains us all.

“Dear Julia, wishing you the happiest of Mother’s Day. May God bless you always. I give thanks to God for this great blessing, to have given me a wonderful mother who one day had to leave this earth for a better world. But pain and sadness were overcome by the great love and affection that you, Julie, have always given us. Now you are a mother to me who has taught me how to rise above the difficult situations that my life has brushed up against. You are the best thing that has happened to me. I am fortunate to have you, always there for me when I need you. Together we find the solutions to solve every problem.

“Truly, today my heart is filled with happiness because I have you in my life, no matter how great the distance. I love you so much. Thank you for existing. May God bless you always. Thank you for teaching me to be a woman who fights for what is right, for being an example to my daughters. Thank you for being with me in every step I make… Thank you for being my mother.” ~Rosenda

“Quiero desearle un gran feliz día de la madre. Que Dios me la bendiga siempre. Quiero darle gracias a Dios por esa gran bendición de haberme dado una madre tan maravillosa que un día tuvo que partir a un mundo mejor. Pero el dolor y la tristeza fueron invadidos por el gran amor y el cariño que tu Julia nos has regalado. Ahora eres una madre para mi que me ha enseñado a sobrepasar las situaciones difíciles que se han acercado a mi vida. Has sido lo mejor que me ha pasado. Soy afortunada de tenerte. Siempre estás cuando te necesitó y juntas encontramos la solución de cada situación.

“De verás, hoy mi corazón se llena de alegría por tenerte no importa la distancia. Te mando un inmenso abrazo y besos te amo un montón gracias por existir que Dios te bendiga siempre. Gracias por enseñarme a ser una mujer luchadora, por ser un ejemplo para mis hijas. Gracias por acompañarme en cada paso que doy….. Gracias por ser mi mama.” ~ Rosenda