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by Manuel Batlle
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2017 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
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Honoring a Nurse called Mother
In the beginning of last century there was a wealthy landlord that lived in Guatemala. He also
had a young wife and a daughter. He had a tendency of binge drinking and the entire frolic that many times can accompany this excess.
He never trusted banks so most of his cash was hidden in his clothes and around his house. He had several other children from other
encounters or relationships of the past.
One day after a much-worked week, the landlord went
for his routine beverages but after he was inebriated he was killed. Although the gentleman had many lands and wealth, the other children
found the way to evict the young wife and daughter and take possessions of all the wealth. The young wife and daughter were forced
to immigrate to El Salvador where the mother found a job as a live in maid. As time went on, the young girl also followed the line
of work of her mother.
Years later the young girl now grown up had a daughter by the name of
Martha. She was said to be a very feisty and sometimes was reprimanded by her mother for playing and going up trees with the boys.
As the young Martha grew into adolescence, her mother told her she was to drop out of school and become a maid to begin to earn money
to help around the house. Martha being the free spirited youngster firmly said she would not. She wanted to become a nurse and help
others. Many tears were poured in frustration to her mother’s demands. It turned out that the Pan American Health Organization was
going to train a select few to become local nurses. Needless to say Martha applied and was tested behind her mothers back. Out of
400 applicants 10 were chosen and among those was spunky Martha. Her mother worked till the end of her days as a maid but died of
breast cancer years later.
She would tell stories about how she would have to travel by horse
or donkey up into the sierras to vaccinate the aborigines. How she fell one time and years later a pain in her hip was related to
the old injury. Her passion for her profession and her patients would radiate from her face when sharing moments and memories of her
experiences. She would always smile when narrating how a local pregnant woman in active labor came to her clinic but no doctors where
available to assist. She described how she would have to pray to her God for internal strength to proceed with the delivery all by
herself. She also would describe how in those days surgical gloves were reused. They were washed and flipped inside out to dry and
later filled with talcum power. It was stories like these accompanied by the appreciation, thankfulness of the humble population that
energized her to go forth and carry out her duty.
Martha was married 3 times bearing 6 children
but only 5 grew to old age. Her first union was the love of her life. They ended up separating after he got the daughter of a prominent
man of the town pregnant at the same time as Martha. This marked a very painful moment of her life. Years later while living in Washington
State she recalled having a vision of him telling her to go with her. She was frightened and said no! The next day she received a
phone call telling her this man had passed the day prior.
She continued on working and raising
her little ones the best she knew how to raise them. Since she was mostly the supplier of the home, the meals where humble generally
comprising of tortillas and beans. One daughter recalls “I remember that even when you arrived tired from work, you would lay us on
the bed and tell us stories at our home at El Palmar. Sometimes they would move you to distant towns where the education was not the
best. As a way to ensure we had the best education you sent us to Santa Ana where you would send us to my uncle Ernesto’s where we
would eat with our uncle Chico before going to school.” Only the pillow and the supreme deity knows the struggles and the heart aches
single mothers go through.
A time came when Communism was popular in the country. It was understood
that those in power did not appreciate Martha’s firm stance on adequately supplying of the hospitals and clinics with materials and
personnel. She was branded as a communist which justified their reason for salary cuts bringing the means for acquisition of basic
necessities to be drastically reduced. As a last resort Martha went to the US embassy and requested a visa to work as a nurse. She
was granted the visa and had to leave all 5 kids behind under the care of the eldest in order to prepare a nest to later take them
One of the first jobs was to work at the Holiday Inn where she eventually became a floor
supervisor. Eventually she passed the necessary exams and became a nurse in the US where she arduously worked for 20+ years. All 5
children became professionals of the best in their field and of the top organizations ranging from Kaiser Permanente, Pacific Bell
(now AT&T), Apple, NASA and an owner of his own medical clinic.
I too met Martha and heard
these stories first hand, so if there is any error I apologize. I had excellent experiences with her being an example of perseverance,
determination and standing firm on what she believed to be right. She would take me to the movies or the parks and pull out an instantaneous
feast that would put to shame any Mobile Telephone Application when it came to speed of delivery of the food. She rode rollercoasters
with me when my mother would not. She helped me apply and get one of my first jobs at the Century 21 movie theaters. She was there
to help by bringing military brochures when she saw I could not figure out the paperwork and the financial means on how to get into
college. She sent me home made refried beans and cheese via snail mail from California to Hawaii when I was in the military.
A book called “the Talent code,” describes how doing an action receptively can strengthen connections in our brain to where either
in 7 years of 10,000 hours we can become a master at something. I do not know what she did or how she spoke to her kids but many times
she was regarded as being very strict. Looking back on all she shared I did not see many mentors on child raising, or life itself,
but she just stuck to what she saw that worked and maybe became a master at this. When you do something for so long, it may take equal
time to apply a different way of acting to your life before it is truly changed. All I know is she gave me graceful love and constant
encouragement always telling me, “Never go back, not even to get momentum!”
Even before I became
a doctor I could see certain changes happening in my grandmothers cognitive ability and overall physical strength. Years later I would
give back what she had so freely invested in me in these later moments of her life. Graceful love, a sacrifice that can bless and
melt even the feistiest of humans. Patience, holding her by the hand as we walked on the Santa Cruz Wharf at the speed her cripple
body could go after battling with a chronic immune disease for over 30 years. She always told me, I do not want to receive flowers
when I am dead, so I gave them to her while she was alive.
I am sure much fault could be found
in her life. After seeing her battle with the incessant pains, shortness of breath and loneliness for so long I think she paid her
dues and today her body can finally rest. I thank all that also gave her moments of grace like Maria, Elizabeth, Martha, Nidia, Maria
E., Guido, Frank, Ernesto, Arcelia, Barreno Family, Julio, Carlos, Natalie, Alexander, Ailish, Xochi, Caytrin, Nidia, Miguel, etc.
Today I choose to Honor Martha as an extraordinary Nurse and a Mother in her best means. As Mother’s day soon arrives and I reminisce
on all, I wish her happy mother’s day but to me she will always be Grandma (Abuela).