Monday, February 2, 2009
Ana Manuela Manon: Aka Mom
This blog perhaps is the most stressful blog I ever have to write. Maybe this is therapeutic for me, who knows.
Imagine a little girl, stress free, walking along the dusty road walking with a pale of water on one hand and a bag of platanos on the other. No thought, just a simple routine walk on a hot humid afternoon in Santo Domingo,(Dominican Republic).
Imagine that this little girl is walking home with no shoes and a bit torn up dress and smiling on her way home, knowing that her mom is waiting for her with her eleven brothers and sisters. Yeah I said it, eleven siblings, all at home doing some sort of choirs around the house to keep it maintained and bug free. A life style like the one this girl had, can only project family pride, team work, and harmony. Dang eleven boys and girls combination, all under one roof, the mouth to feed, the cloth to put on each child and schooling, all must have been an after school program in her home. All seems great in the Manon - Melo family. Base on Christianity and hard work, the little girl grew up to be Ana Manon. A very social butterfly and a loved young lady both in her home and outside. To a degree, her personality was a magnetic one. Her personality blossomed more so when the idea of earning money to help her mother pay the bills since her dad was always drinking or beating her mom up at other times. This home also presented a stressful environment where pretty much everyone was affected by the father of the house.
Such a turn off to go home from school and keep a routine such as the one she used to have, she gathered up some strength at the age of 24, and decided to travel and explore a new world. A world where there shouldn't be so much struggle to feed oneself, nor a struggle to fight for a little bit of pride. So often she have heard of New York City, as a place where Money grew on trees. New York City was AMERICA to her, the land of prosperity and wealth.
Fast speed ahead to when Ana meets Martin. Both were alcoholics. My dad met my mom at a bar, and my mom was a bartender at this time. yada yada yada, my dad gets with my mom, and had my older brother Tomas in Massachusetts. Issues arose where they weren't together. My mom and dad meet again, yada yada yada, and pow, here I am born in New York City, Roosevelt Hospital. This time around my dad lives with my mom and, here it goes: yada yada yada, Jorge pops out, born in New York City, same place I was. How convenient.
"The life style as to how I remember it, went a little like this. I so feel for my mom and that's why she is my inspiration."
I remember living in a one bedroom of a 4 bedroom apartment that we were sharing with Mexicans in Manhattan close to Riverside Drive. I remember us, my brothers and my mom arriving to my dad's place (which was a one room situation, we all five of us in it), having a tiny window overlooking the street, and also a small hand sink on the wall. One twin size bed, and massive bowling trophies along the sides of the bed. I remember the smell of BRUTE colone and a radio blasting to the beat of Whitney Huston, " I wanna dance with some body, I want feel the heat with some body yeah!..." This was the begining of when my mother started to lose herself in small pieces fragments of hope.
Story there ends where we were evicted, because the Mexican lady Dona Juana didn't get along with my mother. So we were roaming the streets the night of the eviction, and misses fix it, mom to the rescue found a gentlemen which she befriended, and begged him to stay with him and all of us included. This new one bedroom of a 2 bedroom apartment was on 144 street in Broadway. We once again lived together all five of us on one tiny room. We slept on suitcases and on the tiny bed. Dad worked, as we went to school. The owner of the apartment agreed for us to stay, the man said yes, and so we staied. There weren't no contracts, nada. We stayed there for about one year and a half, until the owner, Mr. Maximo felt that we were using his kitchen alot and he felt that we needed to leave.
He surprised us all, one afternoon, as we were returning from school, as my mom enters her key and couldn't get in. All our stuff was still inside. That dude, even placed an alarm if we was gonna get in. We were out side our apartment for at least 9hours. We called the cops, (long story) so we were lead in. He got a bit paranoid and was hustle towards us all. My mom to the rescue surf the city and that same night found another spot in Manhattan leading closer to Harlem.
187 Edgcome Ave, new york city; Harlem. What a neighborhood. during this time my mom's mental symptoms of deep depression started to erupt. After so many exhausting living situations and having no money for the children( us), no team work and the feeling of imposing on others, got her drinking. Our battle didn't end there. 187 provided for the first time a place of our very own. Of this three floor brownstone, we first were living on the second floor, the bathroom we shared since we all were living in a studio apartment. Yes again, all five of us, teenagers with mom and dad in a studio apartment with a built in closet size kitchen. My mom couldn't bare it, but she tried. She sometimes will get the food and return drunk? How was that?
Crack Head Mr.and Miss H,(can not disclose of their names), often shoot up. We were frequent awaken by their violent fights at night over a rock, and or alcohol. These folks were so heavy with the drugs that they often set their house on fire accidental, as they were cooking and they fell asleep. We were the ones that saved the building by calling the fire department, lets say more then 7 times. My mom kept her cool. She even kept her cool when she found out my dad was laid off. No money was running. Starvation. This wasn't her dream at all. The promise land of hopes and dreams all washed away by a stubborn husband. ( more to this story, too much to include. If you have questions, ask.)
We all witness shooting, by foot or drive by. We all witness gang related muggings and were victims of them as well. This let to what made my mom worse; for one year mom started to talk about " El Hombre Malo" the bad man. the mad that "killed her mom"( all in her mind, she died of natural causes). The cascades of events got worse. The Landlord, in which my dad was paying his rent too, didn't pay the eclectic bill for the entire building and ran off with the rent money. This meant that we were without electricity for one year and a half.(started during the fall of one year and ended towards we the next year in the spring with no electricity). We couldn't cook food, take a shower, there was no heat, we couldn't read our homework's, nothing. Candle light was the way to go. My mom couldn't take it. So she once again wanted to rescue us by looking for clothing from the streets for us, collecting cans of food to sell to get some type of income. She bought trinkets in whole sale and resell them to the public around the schools we were going. There wasn't any shame of getting money for her family. She did that in Dominican Republic, what was the difference?
Living in 187 I notice my mom's behavior to be more and more obscured and very very unfamiliar. I remember one night she didn't return home at her usual time, 7pm. She instead return home, humming, carrying a one gallon of milk on one hand and the other a pound of uncooked white rice. At this cool winter night, I asked my mom if I could her her unload some of her stuff. She nodded, with her hat covering half her salty face. I thought it was kinda weird. After unpacking the food, my mom ran away from me quickly. I chased her and cornered her and asked her about her face. She ran passed me and into the other room, where she laid down and sat down in the most strange way. I asked to see her face. To my horror, my mom had a very swollen black and blue eye. It was so swollen that the dry blood that was crusting over it made it look like a peperoni roll. It was so shocking. She said that a car backed up on her and pushed her, she fell and broke her left wrist. I rushed to access the wound, and once again, to my shocking surprise, my mother's bone was sticking out of her wrist. I ran and got a wooden chair and got straight piece to help her from not tearing her flesh even further. I called the ambulance and she was alright from there.
Alcohol got the best of her.
After being evicted from 187, a letter on our main entrance door stated a place in which we all need to attend, and it was a near by homeless and family relocate Shelter that was on 137th street between 6th and 7th ave. The YWCA.(Lenox and Adam Clayton Power Boulevard.)
This was the Turing point of where I totally lost my mother.
In the shelter we each were given a separate room. One for each of us, all in the same floor, sharing a local/public bathroom with 14 other rooms. These people didn't cared about themselves, I can say this because of the way they did things. Taking a dump on the sinks, throwing food in the shower, condoms with blood all over the floors both in side the bathrooms, and in the hall ways. I saw perhaps the most drug needles in my life time by me living there. The most dirtiest place , mud and scum on the doors and in side the bathrooms. Warms crawling on the side of these rooms, no light and broken window were a hash condition to live in.
This is when my mom died inside. At times I return from school and I run to look for her. She was either shitting on the floor of the room we both shared or walked the street with out socks nor shoes. Her behavior worsen, to an out of control state. I even saw her in the streets, and I force her to come home with me because I know she will either get killed by someone of she will hurt herself. She has spat on me in public, rubbed it on my face. She has cursed me out in from of strangers, and wanting to fight me. Was a difficult time.
One sad afternoon, after returning from Aikido, I noticed that her room was a bit different. Emptier. It appeared as if some was ran sacked her room and wiped it clean of goods, leaving behind dirty paper and some tooth past. I started to clean up, and hours turned into 24 hours. As the night fell, my dad and I called the police and called for a missing person. Those hours turned into days, then weeks and month. A year pass. Silence in my family. We didn't know if she was dead or alive. Another year pass, and my dad calls me from his job and asked me to hurry to see him there.
I saw a ghost. It was my mother. over two years, my mom returns, looking totally different. Older, sunken in, she looked like she was on some medical drugs. I cried and hugged her oh so tightly. I couldn't believe it, it was her, I was holding my mother, I was holding her as to make sure she will not leave me again. My mother came back.
To be continued.....