My Mom, My Inspiration, My Hero

I really feel that a good mother has one of the toughest jobs in this world. Don’t get me wrong, a father has a huge role to play as well, I mean come on – after all I’m a father.

My mom, Gabriela (Maiden name Veliz) Espinoza was raised down in the Rio Grande Valley, Hidalgo County, in Texas – one of the poorest counties in the country. She came from a very large family. She worked in the fields picking cotton, chopping weeds, and cooking for her family. She met my dad, Wences, in the 1940s and they got married. Following that they had six kids – I’m one of those kids. Wences and Gabriela migrated to north Texas in 1959 and then to Oregon in 1976.

It’s very difficult to forget how much work Mom did for me. How much love she displayed by her actions. She never really had to say “I love you David,” Mom merely expressed it by her example – I just knew she loved me.

The simplest things – In Texas, when it rained it poured hard. Mud was left for a few days. Mom would carry me across the mud onto the porch so I wouldn’t get muddy. She’s the one that got muddy.

It was always her that surprised me, she did the planning and made sure I had a cake on my birthday. Our family did not have much money, we were very poor. With six kids and a single income (my dad working a labor job) it wasn’t easy for her. I'll always remember the surprise birthday parties.

Mom was our alarm clock every morning for school – her yelling at us. It was important that her kids get an education. She made it to the seventh grade and then had to drop out due to financial reasons – hard times back in her days. It was because of her that I stayed in school – I graduated from high school, and then I graduated from college. She didn’t want her son to end up like her or her husband. Countless times she would tell me and her other children how important school was.

She loved to sing, and would sing me songs when I was sad. One of her favorite songs was “Snowbird” by Ann Murray – she would sing that countless times. It would cheer me up because of the funny faces she would make at me.

She was a strong lady and discipline was very important to her. She made sure that I stayed away from trouble. If you are a parent I’m sure you can relate to the challenges of raising children.

Mom did not get much sleep – trust me, with six kids? I raised two kids and I know how much work that was. I cannot imagine six kids, but she did it! With one kid half dressed and another kid crying, and two others fighting over the one bathroom we had – whew!

In 1963 I got into a serious accident. My mom drove ninety miles an hour in a 1955 Ford Sedan with me bleeding next to her. The police stopped her, and in a few seconds they were escorting her to the Amarillo hospital at a very high speed. I’m alive today because of my mom’s caring and courageous display of action.

Mom chased away the girls that came to my door when I was in the seventh and eighth grade. Thanks mom, I was much too young to date girls.

The simplest things, I would go swimming during the hot summers at the local pool – admission was only 25 cents back then. After swimming all day, I’d come home tired and hungry. Mom had a warm plate of beans, rice, and tortillas ready on the table – to top it off, watermelon for dessert.  You would appreciate that more if only you knew how great of a cook she was – the best in Texas and in Oregon.

In Texas we lived in a neighborhood that had some rough kids. My mom would confront any of them if they were throwing rocks at our house or picking on her children. It was quite a scene watching her walk over to the neighbors to discuss issues with them.

The simplest things, Mom would make sure we had Christmas presents every year when I was growing up. The Sears charge card would come out. It was worth it to her – even if it took the rest of the year to pay it off.

My mom liked flowers. She liked to draw pictures – very artistic. My mom enjoyed reading the Bible and magazines. She told me about God and made me go to church every Sunday. Thanks for that Mom, your introduction paved the way for me to follow the Lord, my savior Jesus Christ.

The simplest things, Mom would go to garage sales and buy clothes for me. She would iron my clothes so they would look nice on me. She would patch up my pants if they got torn … and trust me, they got torn a lot.

Mom would take care of me if I got sick, whether it was the flu, a cold, or an injury. With five other kids she made time for me. I remember her caring words “do you feel better?”

The simplest things, Mom knew what I was doing and who I was hanging out with. She had an amazing connection with other moms. She let me know if I should not be doing certain things. Thanks mom, you helped me become a better person.

I watched my mom cry when something wasn’t right with her family. I watched my mom cry when one of her kids was leaving for a trip. She was close to all of her kids, and I was one of them.

I watched my mom laugh when something funny happened – trust me with six kids many funny things happened. She had such a nice laugh, and her teeth were all so straight and white. I used to impersonate people and I remember her always asking me to do that again – she could not stop laughing.

Mom wearing the mum I bought her (sorry, the only pic I had)
Mom wearing the mum I bought her (sorry, the only pic I had)

My mom would read the paper and discover things happening in the community. The Punt Pass and Kick Contest put on by the Ford car dealership at the time was one activity. I entered and took first place. Thanks mom for telling me about that. Mom also saw an ad about a plane flying over the courthouse square and dropping thousands of ping pong balls, which all had a prize in them. We walked down and caught a lot of them.

Mom kept our house clean, even if the carpet was torn or the counters were old, she cleaned them every day. She also mopped the floors regularly. Thanks mom for teaching me how to keep a house clean.

I was into sports and as a freshman I made the varsity team in track and field. My team was traveling to the Amarillo Relays and staying two nights – it was a huge meet. My mom was full of smiles. She was working for a grade school as a teacher’s aide at the time. I could tell she was very proud of me and my accomplishments. I was a hurdler and a high jumper for the team. That was the first time that I missed my mom – the two nights without seeing her were very difficult. When I returned home from the trip, the house was empty and I decided to take a nap. I heard the front door open as I slowly woke up. It was my mom and she said, “Awe, there’s my star athlete, David.” I was so happy to see her and her smile.

When I was a sophomore I made the varsity football team. Back in Dimmitt, Texas, they have a tradition during homecoming. Each player buys a mum (a white carnation with a purple ribbon) for their mom. At the homecoming pep rally, each player escorted their mom across the gym when announced. I was so honored to walk my mom across that gym. She made an effort to be there for me. As I walked with her, great memories hit me hard. She wore that mum everywhere until it dried up. And after that she kept it in a plastic for a souvenir. I was so proud of Mom. She had been through so much, not just for me, but for my brothers and sisters as well – a true success.

I’m so glad that we have a day to honor mothers. Mother’s Day is a special day that we should all recognize. My mom was a very special lady and she will always be in my heart no matter what. She went beyond what was expected of her – sacrificed to watch over her family.

Wences and Gabriel in Oregon
Wences and Gabriel in Oregon

My mom was my inspiration, and she is my hero.

One of the saddest days in my life was when my mom passed away in 1990 at age 55 – she was very young. I was so thankful that she had an opportunity to spend time with my two boys – her grandkids. She would play baseball with them in her backyard and laugh with them – a beautiful sight. Mom, it’s because of you that I can say I have done a pretty darn good job raising my boys – you gave me a priceless gift “a great example”.

Mom, I know you won’t be able to read this, but I’m so glad that I got a chance to say, I love you, thank you for being the best mom anyone could ever have, before you went to heaven.

Let me take this moment to wish every mom out there a happy Mother’s Day on Sunday.