18: Looking Back

18: Looking Back

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Looking Back

There is in every true woman’s heart a spark… which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.

~Washington Irving

We found out that my dad had another family back in 2000. My older sister had just started working, my older brother was still in college, and I was in high school. Discovering that my dad had another family while he worked overseas devastated us. Emotionally, we felt betrayed and left behind. Financially, we were at a loss since most of the family income came from his earnings. Physically, we had lost our father. He never came home after that, nor did he make any attempt to contact us.

I was young enough to be naïve and believe that things would work out. Nothing much changed in my everyday life, except that my father stopped coming home from overseas and stopped his weekly phone calls. Since I was mad at my dad for hurting my mom, I was okay with that. But everything else stayed the same—school continued and life went on. Every now and then, Mom would remind me to not be a spendthrift or wasteful. But I was a kid. I didn’t understand what was really happening.

We never went hungry, changed schools or had to face how different things really were. Only recently did I learn about the harrowing days that my mother endured. I knew she had gotten sick at some point, but never attributed it to the stress she felt over the pain, loss, and coping for her kids. I knew we had less money but I didn’t know that she took out a huge loan to keep us in our schools. Now that I am an adult and paying my own bills, I can’t figure out how she did it. I also recently learned my mother had to sell off properties to pay our bills. I never knew any of that was happening.

Mom never let me see how hard it was for her. She let me continue as a carefree teen, focused on my studies and my future. We remained a regular, happy family, spending weekends together at the mall. I have nothing but fond memories of those years. My siblings and I grew up to become well-adjusted happy adults, able to face things head-on, knowing that every problem is conquerable, thanks to our amazing mom.

~Clarissa Villaverde

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