My Mother, the intrepid, the bold and brave
This is my mother, she is almost 60 years old but look at her, even in a still image she vibrates with life. I have had a lot of changes in my life this year, most if not all have been changes for good. 2011 and 2012 were not the best of years but through the good and that bad my mother has been there.
My mother was born in Eritrea, the eldest of a family who was to lose a son and brother, as well as a father in a short space of time. She was educated at the Italian school until she decided that she needed to go into work since her family needed her financial support. This was not unheard of in those days, be it in a ‘third world’ country or her in the UK, so this not what sets her apart for me but the rest of her life as it continues to shine.
My mother fled from her home city to a city where she met and married my father, she also went through education and became an accountant. She also helped most of her siblings flee the Derg regime and it’s taste for it’s enemies blood. I have a very vivid memory of hiding one of my uncles under a bed, though who knows if this is true as so many things happened during my childhood in Addis.
At 27 she had me, at 29 she lost my dad to war. She raised me alone, she was mum and dad. She had help of course, my grandmother was with us for some years and my uncle was around for a few years too, but she did most of it alone. She sent me to the best schools, from nursery all the way to secondary school. She worked hard to ensure that if ever sedet (forced migration) was my fate I would never be behind. My education was so good that when I moved to England I was ahead of most of my school colleagues in Maths, Science and English Grammar. I was brought up to believe in myself that when I did move here I was not left behind.
Now I am 31, older than when she lost my dad, I am amazed at how much hard work must have gone into her life at my age. She has a 4 year old daughter and a home to run and boy did she do it well. You can ask any of her friends neighbours, or family and they will tell you that the home of Mestlal was the most welcoming and generous to be found. It amazes me to think how generous and giving my mother was then in her situation and still is now. In this age of finding your inspiration in people and finding role model in your life I always look to my mother even when I don’t see it or actively don’t want to -we all know the idea of being like our parents horrifies us at times.
When my mother was in her 40s she had to move, for many complicated and simple reasons she had to leave her home again. This time she was in a different continent, in a country that does not value people if it is not related to dollars. She worked three jobs while going to night school to earn the right to work in the profession she was qualified in. She did not grumbled, she understood that she had to adjust to survive. She moved state and again worked hard to prove she was qualified and skilled. Her rise in one particular organisation was so elegant and swift that the old green eyed monster reared it head more than once
I am going to fast foward through years to get to this point of telling you about my mother now and sharing with you her amazigness – this should be a word, selfie is for goodness sake – in the face of what life presents.
This is my mother with her friend Patricia who is homeless. Patricia has an alcohol abuse problem but is working on trying to give up or cut down. In the picture my mother and Particia are in a cafe celebrating my mother’s day off and Patricia being sober that day. When mum started taking Patricia to the cafe people questioned her and still don’t understand why she does it, why she is friend with this homeless alcoholic woman. Mother says that Patricia is a kind and smart woman who has much to say and for this reason they are friends.
This is very important because my mother lives in an area of Canada where the Native, Inuits and Aboriginals continue to be disparaged, not only by the European settler of old but also by the new immigrants.
The same day mum told me of her Charlie, he said he could not join them at the café as he had had a drink and was not in a good place. Charlie died a week later. Charlie was a very kind person according to what my mum says of him, he was a man who donated a total of $100,000 to local Yelloknife organisations.
My mother can take apart a computer and replace it’s parts, she learned this while waiting for paper work to enable her to work. She was in her 50s and instead of wait around or do what might be expected, she volunteered at a computer re-purposing plant, it was an org that provided affordable and good computers for people on low income. Mum walks everyday, even if it is for a short distance in temperatures that range from -50 centigrade upwards. Mama keeps around her all the young women she meets in her day to day and encourages them to go to school, helps them with their homework and down to sorting out their telephone tariffs.
So, what is the point of all of this? Why have I written about my mother and her amazingness – again this should be a work OED. It is mostly for myself, a sort of written instruction of where to pull strength from when you need it, where you look for your validation if you need it, where to look for examples of bravery and boldness. I should look to my mum. I, too often, look to people who I should not for validation, example and guidance. It is a reminder that while my mother’s life is not mine I should remember where I come from and draw solace as well as resolve from her. I am not a particularly religious person and as such have no interest in priests, pastors nor preacher so it is amazing to have someone to believe in and that person be my mother.