for my mother, on her birthday
i don’t have video of my mother laughing. the sound of her laugh exists only now in my mind. every year, i fear that i will forget the sound of her raucous laugh. afraid that my memory will instead recall laughs that are similar to my mother’s in place of hers. but today, i am glad that i remember.
i have written about my mother and my childhood extensively. anyone who has followed this project knows that my mother and i lived through the hell that is addition and dehumanizing poverty. and how we both managed to live on this earth after the murder of my younger brother nicholas.
i sometimes only remember the shit that ripped us apart. not because i am addicted to trauma (lawd knows that is my brand lol) but rather because of my constant paranoia that history could one day repeat itself. i find myself studying and examining all of the variables that made what happened to us happen. intellectually, i know this is impossible because many of our challenges were beyond our control. but still, i retrace every (mis)step of our journey so that i may be able to beat and/or out smart circumstance.
today, i am choosing to write about my mother in a different light. a light that i do not ever want to forget. so it is imperative that i share.
she loved her kids. even through addiction, she loved her all 8 of her children. we loved her. even when the world directed us to do otherwise. we loved and defended her even if that meant internalizing the shame projected onto her.
she loved to play parcheesi. when my brothers were asleep, she and i would play that board game for hours. literally hours.
she made the best fried chicken. when she came down from her high, she would wake up me up the middle of the night to eat with her. this was always of my fave moments.
whenever she cooked, she fed the entire block. one day, I asked why she feeds the very people who talk shit about her. she replied, “because we have it. and i ain’t denying nobody food.” i never asked again.
she always wanted to visit russia. this was during the 80’s and the cold war was at its peek. i like to think this was her way of resisting.
she fought for everything.
she loved to listen to the oldies every sunday night.
she loved diana ross, princess diana and tina turner.
she loved to laugh and dance.
with little resources. she gave me everything i needed.
with little formal education, she taught me everything i needed to know.
today, on another anniversary of her death, i speak her name, ROSA M. ORTIZ-FONSECA, into the universe so that it never forgets that she existed.