I remember as a child waking up at three in the morning to the sound of an old cast iron Singer model sewing machine. Short rat-tat-tat-tat-tat machine gun like bursts of sound as threaded needle pierced through fabric, guided ever so delicately by the long bony fingers of my mother’s hands. That sound became so familiar to me as a child, so ingrained in me, that I would often hardly notice the sound through out my day. It became background noise to me as I went about my day playing or watching television, like elevator music or the sound traffic on a Monday morning commute to work.
My father met my mom in Mexico, married her, and him being a U.S. citizen brought her to the States as his wife. Eventually I was born, and a short time later my sister. My father left my mom soon after my sister’s birth and I never saw him again. She had the choice at that time to go back to Mexico, be with her family, and raise my sister and me as Mexicans, but decided to stay in the U.S. and give her children the best opportunity to have a good life.
My mom was then left to raise two children, my sister and me, by herself, in a foreign country, with minimal knowledge of English, only an eight grade education, and no marketable skills to speak of. She borrowed some money, bought an old sewing machine and began to assemble pieces of fabric from home for a company that made shirts and other clothing. She was paid 3 cents per piece.
For the next two decades or so, my mom became a slave to that machine. It was a rare moment that I didn’t hear that machine and see my mom hunched over sitting in front of that thing, a naked light bulb glaring over her head, straining her bifocal-led eyes to make sure the tiny needle threaded two pieces of cloth exactly to company specifications.
I hated that machine, and I hated my father for leaving my mom. I promised myself at a very early age that if I ever was to have children of my own, I would be best father in the world….
Feliz dia de los padres Mama!