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Ivania W. MAG
Itis 5 a.m. on a humid August Monday morning. The rising sun creates a ribbon ofcolor in the sky over our small Alabama town. While most are still asleep, oneperson has just woken to the harsh buzz of an alarm clock. Slowly, she rolls outof bed and prepares for work. With rollers in her hair, she hardly looks like ahero. Though she may be considered an average American, the sequence of eventsthat brought her to where she is is anything but ordinary. This woman's name isIvania W., and she just happens to be my mother. Even if she were not, I wouldstill find her story compelling and heroic.
My mother is an immigrant fromNicaragua who overcame many hardships to come to America and establish a life forherself. She was born Ivania Jimenez in a small town; later, she moved toManagua, the capital. Her father died when she was little, leaving her mother toraise her and two siblings. My grandmother worked tirelessly to provide for herfamily, which left my mother and her siblings to care for themselves. Withoutconstant adult supervision, my mother could have gone down the wrong path, butshe worked diligently at her studies and attended the country's finestuniversity.
Life seemed to be improving for my mother and her family.After she graduated from college, she traveled to Canada to study English, as shehoped to be in business someday. She had every intention of returning toNicaragua, but political changes there created social unrest and turmoil. Thehome my grandmother had worked so hard to build was seized, along with almost allthe family's possessions. When my mother received word, she was deeply saddened,as she knew she would never return home. That is when she decided to become anAmerican citizen.
She went to live in Miami, with her broken English,few possessions, and little money. Gradually, she learned about American lifewhile being able to speak Spanish and practice her English. She worked as acashier at a variety store, making enough to support herself. She met my father,and they moved to Tennessee after they married.
My mother, however, wasnot satisfied. She went to business school to better herself not only in English,but also in business administration. By the time I was born, she had masteredEnglish well enough to pass the United States citizenship examination. My father,my mother and I traveled to Memphis to see her sworn in as a citizen. She oftentells me that standing there reciting the oath was one of the proudest moments inher entire life.
Even though she had earned advanced business degrees,her priority was raising me, her only child. She became a stay-at-home mother,volunteering at my elementary school as a Spanish teacher. Though she made nomoney, she loved it. In fact, she volunteered for 12 years, sharing the gift oflanguage with others.
Even though she loved volunteering, she stillwanted a job in the corporate world. When she felt I was old enough to take careof myself, she got a job at a bank. She started as a customer service specialist,handling bilingual calls and helping Spanish-speaking customers. Now, five yearslater, my mother is a bank analyst, which involves helping branches nationwidewith problems. She has finally achieved her dream of a career in business, adream she had put on hold.
Even with her success, she is still active inthe community and encourages me to be as well. We have worked together oncommunity service activities including the Relay for Life and the Race for aCure. She has always been an inspiration to me, wishing for me to succeed, hopingthat I do not have to put my dreams on hold as she did. She, and my father,worked to provide a loving home for me which has taught me pride andperseverance, along with humility and a willingness to serve others.
Itis 5:35 p.m. that same Monday in August. The temperature hit another record high,only to be broken by a much-needed shower. I can hear her shoes click softlyagainst the steps as she comes to the door. Once inside, she asks those questionsthat mothers always ask - about my day at school and what has come in the mail.As she puts her things down, she comes over and gives me a hug. Hardly the stuffof heroes, right? Perhaps people should reexamine what that word reallymeans.
Anne Hawthorne once asked, "What is a home without amother?" As far as my experience goes, such a scenario would be unimaginableas she is the anchor that keeps our household grounded, even in the
mosthectic of times. She has always been a pillar of support and encouragement, whileremaining pragmatic. While many look to celebrities and sports figures forheroes, I know one a bit closer to home. Though she may be unassuming, evenperceived as weak by those who do not know her, she is a true hero, proving thatadversity does not have to be a sentence to a life filled with failure.
While Hollywood searches desperately for a script that portrays the nextgreat hero, my mother's story is compelling because it is true. Instead of acostume and cape, my mother settles for a business suit. Her special power isbeing able to cope and thrive in the most adverse circumstances, touching otherswith her story of perseverance and ultimate achievement.