To the Woman Who Taught Me to Travel

On Saturday, August 5th, my mother finally accomplished one of her biggest dreams. She graduated from the University of Purdue (it’s ok, I guess I can allow being rivals only for university – I am a big Indiana University fan). This was a big day for my mother, someone who has sacrificed so much for others.

My mom’s story has always been an inspiration to me. She was born in Spain under the Franco regime. My mom was young when democracy finally took hold in Spain, but the effects that Franco left on the public and in the people still lasted. My mom grew up moving around a lot (just like we did), and even spent some time living in Venezuela. When her parent’s divorced, she quit high school to work so her family could eat. In her early 20’s, she moved to the United States so that she could learn English. She met my dad, they got married and eventually had me.

A few years ago when we visited the hospital where I was born

My mom will never know the inspiration she has had on me. She was the one who was there on my first days of school, the one who took me to back to school shopping, the one who gave me an understanding that languages and traveling are an important things to have in this life to step out of our comfort zones.

It’s thanks to my mom that I understood that education was a key to my future (in whatever way I wanted to interpret it). In first grade for Mother’s Day, I made my mom a book about all the reasons why I was grateful for her, and on one page, I thanked her for getting up early in the morning to take me to school. It’s thanks to my mom that I speak two languages without an accent, and the reason why I learned how to read and write before I started school. I am grateful she made me feel as much as a Spaniard as I am an American. It’s due to her that I am now living my dream in France.

We took a road trip for spring break the year after I graduated high school to Florida. Just me and my mom. I wasn’t doing too well after how my graduation had ended up (not being able to go to a four year school – IU), and feeling like I was stuck in a small town that didn’t resonate with me. It was my mom’s idea for me to take a year off of community college and go abroad to learn French, a dream I had had since I was little. I remember our first night in the hotel, searching for organisations that I could contact to become a fille au pair. I had already looked earlier that year to go abroad and do the Peace Corps, but I needed my undergraduate, and I wanted to go as soon as I could. She understood that where I was at that moment was not where I needed to be. Forever I will be grateful for the push I got from her to follow my dreams.

After having sacrificed so much for other’s her whole life, I was proud to stand as her daughter the day she finally was able to graduate. I saw her by accident before entering the auditorium where the graduation ceremony would take place. Everyone was getting into their assigned spots and I was searching for my dad. I instantly had tears in my eyes the second I saw her. I gave her a quick hug before she had to go, and the lady standing next to me said, “I know! It is hard not to cry!”

But I couldn’t help it, this was the woman who has taught me to fight for what I deserve, to be strong even when I feel weak and to learn the true meaning of happiness. She is the one that has taught me that time is just a human concept and that anything can be achieved if we work hard enough for it.

I bo you mamá.

Veronica

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