by Marian Haddad
Posted on November 7, 2008
Mama, I will praise your name, ring it as far as sound can carry. You, long gone now, far away inasmuch as the physical nature of you. Your spirit is here; I carry you with me. Your voice, your song, your language, your breath. . .I carry you.
The time has come for me to rouse any listeners, about you, about those like you and my grandmother who also came to this America. Everywoman. “We can never repay our mothers,” you always said about your own. How true. You, standing there, in front of altars, lighting candles for all the women who came before you, the ones who still lived in other countries; but you carried them inside you all your days. You taught us well, to not forget: the places, the cultures, the stories.
Mother, I take this opportunity to praise and lift your name, along with the women who traveled from varied countries, some through Ellis Island, others across this border of ours, border to our sister country, Mexico and the church of La Virgen de Guadalupe, where your uncle would drive you and me and Sitto, my grandmother, to venerate The Virgin, to light candles, to pray for things.
Mama, remember? We would always stop at the Mercado and look at the wares and fruits, sometimes buy them. Sometimes Father would take us all to La Florida to eat the fish.
We learned the Spanish language because of our proximity to this country, whose women have also come to live here in Los Estados Unidos. United, Mama. That is the word I want to carry. Let us all remember, no matter which country we come from, all these parts make a whole. And though we are part of this America, we can still proudly carry the languages of our predecessors, the food, the flavor of these lives. We can hold fast to more than one culture, the culture from which we come and the culture to which we travel, a part of us now. What is a country? So many we can belong to. . .and not forget when we have come this far, the places from which we started.
Mexico, The Middle East, Lithuania, Great Britain, Europe, Canada, Ireland, Latin America, so many countries and how many continents across this wide map, I cannot name them all; whether these women were madres or abuelitas, tias, aunts, sisters and neighbors, we are welcome in this sharing.
The community has come together at your inspiration, Mother. You have reminded us to speak about the strong mujeres who carried us, some literally on their backs, across borders and oceans; between stars. We will not forget. We honor you here, we honor your names, your challenges you overcame, your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who fill this city with your continued breath. We are your legacy.
Marian Haddad, MFA
Exhibit Information: Immigrant Women of El Paso: Photo and Portrait Exhibit Opening Reception
Friday, Nov. 14, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
IMMIGRANT WOMEN OF EL PASO: PHOTO AND PORTRAIT EXHIBIT
-Opening Night, Nov. 14, 6 p.m. at the El Paso Museum of History
-Reception at 8 p.m. at the The El Paso Public Library - Spoken celebration, recitation of ancestral women's names and closing reception
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