I remember how happy she was when she saw my father and brother after being separated from them for five years. I didn’t know who they were so I gave them cereal. Tears of joy covered her face and my father’s while my brother and I enjoyed our frosted flakes.
I remember my first trip to the Philippines and how I saw an old man sleeping in the middle of the day. My mother, face scarred with more tears and sweat from the humid heat, told me to say goodbye to Lolo and to live a happy life just like he had, as we lowered him into his final resting place.
I remember what it felt like to be terrified of thunder, and she convinced me that the gods were bowling and made me watch the lightening when I couldn’t fall back asleep. The long streaks of light danced as my fear shriveled and my fascination grew.
I remember her not always happy with me and going to my father for my inevitable punishment.
I remember her calling me from the other end of the house to ask me to do something she could do herself, like change the channel.
I remember questioning what a Filipino was and seeing my mother’s reaction as she struggled to explain her own history.
I remember her watching me play my first song on guitar and the last time she saw me perform on stage.
I remember deciding she was my best friend when I came to her for advice, sobbing from a painful breakup. I remember my mother crying with me, each passing moment of vulnerability drawing us closer together.
My mother is the rock that keeps me grounded, my role model, the reason I come home every night. We keep each other sane in this insane life our family has together. I know I’ll need to leave and start my own crazy story and mold a family with her incredible example of love and dedication. I will help my children to see my mother, their grandmother, as the Super Woman I believe she is.
Ervin Lopez is a youth leader for Forward Together Youth's Core program. He is twenty years old and a third-year in college. He is a musician, dancer, teacher, community organizer, and cultural worker. His mother's name is Emily.