The day Maria became a citizen of the United States she felt a rush of emotions as she sat
alongside other immigrants during the oath ceremony.
Years of struggle all led up to that moment. I remember watching her from the crowd feeling immensely proud of my mother. I still remember seeing her wave around her small American flag in her hand with the biggest smile on her face. Seeing your mother that happy is an indescribable feeling. On that cold December day, my mother completed a wish that had taken her years to accomplish. With her two daughters and husband cheering her on in the crowd, she says it is one of the proudest moments of her life.
Maria is a 50 year old immigrant from Honduras, my mother, and best friend. Her journey as an immigrant in this country began in December of 1992. She was only 23 years old and it was her first Christmas away from home. She remembers how heavy it made her heart feel when she thought of her mother back home alone. It was because of her mother, Virginia, that she had left her small hometown in Honduras. After finishing high school and mourning the death of her father, Maria knew her mother could not afford to send her to college. Maria also knew there was no opportunities to make money to help support her family.
The increasing violence in her country also pushed her to make the decision to leave home. There was so much fear she felt, anxiety over the first time leaving home, but ultimately her love for her mother helped her overcome all the fear and anxiety. It also helped that her older and closest brother was already in the United States so she didn’t feel completely alone. After the saying hardest goodbye she has ever had to say her journey began.
That December she arrived, she knew no English, and she ventured into the unknown not knowing what the future held for her. She immediately began to work with no end. She didn’t care how tired she felt or that her back felt like it could rip open from the pain. Maria has never stopped working hard, pushing herself, and creating a life she is truly proud of. The words of hate and discrimination she has faced have not fazed her. Holding her head up high she continues on. Today, Maria is still working two jobs like she did when she first arrived in this country. She continues to work to support her mother, to provide for our family, and because she says it is not in her blood to stop working. Still, I hope that one day I won’t have to watch her come home and see the tiredness weighing on her so heavily. I hope her life will be more than just work. I also hope that she’ll see my sister and I graduate college a wish she always had for herself and could never accomplish.
Maria has cultivated a great life for herself and her family in the United States. A fiery woman with a strong sense of determination she is no longer the scared 23 year old who arrived over half a decade ago to this country. She has created a community with the love and empathy her mother inculcated in her at a young age. If you show up at her door hungry, hurt, or in need of help Maria will welcome you with open arms. As a family oriented woman she has helped raise the children of her siblings, helped her mother move to the United States, and manage a bustling household as the matriarch of the family. She continues to give to her family that is still back home in Honduras as she is always looking out for her loved ones. Whether it be supporting immigrants like her, her family, or even strangers there is so much love in her heart which is so needed in this world.
Maria is an admirable immigrant, woman, and mother. She is a driving force in my studies in college and has inspired me to pursue a career related to immigration. I am always in awe of how much she has accomplished from nothing. I always ask her if she has any regrets, if she believed she should have stayed home, and found a way to build a life back home. She says, “This is where I belong. Here. My heart and life are here. I have become stronger and all my experiences have made me the women I am today. Difficulties and all I am still here fighting and working.”