My mother, My Heroine...

My mother, My Heroine...
Recounting a story on Mother's day.
The definition of a heroine is someone who displays the ability to overcome insurmountable odds while carrying forth with her values, her character and her convictions. That heroine in my life is Martha A. Gomez.

She came to this country as an immigrant in the 1970s escaping a conservative religious household and township who punished her for falling in love and having a child at such a young age. She, only a teenager at 17, was seen as a prostitute for having a child so young and not being married. She was the joke of the town. Her boyfriend, the man she loved, left her to pursue a career in medicine and she was left pregnant with nowhere to turn. She decided to make the journey to the United States in order to seek a better life for herself.

She didn't speak any English, couldn't drive, knew very little about American culture, and was all alone. She arrived in a new country with a 40 day old baby and no money in her pocket. But her will carried her forward. She enrolled in night school, began working at a factory and learned the nearby bus lines. Factory work was one of the few jobs that were available to her because she had no documentation. She was an undocumented worker in a society that both needed her labor, but shunned her for just the same. In a period of three years she was deported from the country at least half a dozen times. It was one of the most difficult moments of her life.

After being in this country for six years, after saving all her money, she was able to achieve one of her biggest dreams of owning her first home. She purchased a home in South Central Los Angeles and it seemed as if she was walking on air. However, she didn't realize how difficult and expensive it would be to keep up with all the payments. Within a year she had lost her dream. She pursued on, and later that same year she began to study the realty system in order to purchase another home. It wasn't until 1991 that she was able to find a steady home in the city of Norwalk. That same year she saw her child graduate from high school and be accepted to UC Berkeley. Another dream had been achieved as fruits to all her labor.

Martha Gomez has also been one of those quiet, shy community leaders that is always there to lend a hand. She organized parents in the city of Norwalk to fight for their education when the school district began making horrendous cutbacks. She has also been there for families in need. Without need for a title, letter head or an organizational name she has created a sense of community by fostering dialogue amongst community residents. Whenever something takes place in the community, neighbors know that they can count on her for support.

Martha Gomez has worked for seventeen years in factories to raise her children (she had a second child, a daughter in 1983, and a son in 1991) and give them a stable home. As her children began to grow she returned to school and received not only her high school diploma, but also credentials in computer office management. For her, that was a milestone achievement.

Now, after close to twenty years of working in factories she has finally left that line of work and began working at a job that suites her potential. She is a Bilingual phone operator with the hopes of furthering her education. She is seeking to attend college and possibly pursue a career in engineering.

This woman, mother, business woman, community leader, teacher and student is my heroine. I am proud to call her my mother, and I know that she represents a generation of immigrants, of women, who have struggled, and continue to struggle to survive, and to create a better world for our society.

Written by: Cesar A. Cruz

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