R.I.P. María E. Morales Rodríguez (21-Sep-47 - 05-Dec-19)
My mother, María E. Morales, was born in Cárdenas, Matanzas, Cuba on September 21, 1947. She was the first of José Luis Morales and Blanca Rodríguez’s seven children. After meeting my father Andrés F. Guerrero, from the same city in 1970 they got engaged in 1971 and married in 1972.
In 1980, my parents arrived in Puerto Rico via the U.S. A year and 4 months after her arrival her only child was born. Like any immigrant, her new life restarted with some difficulty, but with the help of family members, a less restrictive government, and hard work, they took root in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, where she lived without luxury but comfortably until my father passed away in January 2009.
With her and my father’s blessing, I left for the USA at 16 years old to go to college and find a better future to try to repay all the blessings they had given me. I made my life in the United States, but I made it a priority to visit my parents more than once a year. I cherished the opportunity for personal growth given to me by going to school far from home. However, as time passed I valued more how important it had been to have such amazing parents teach me what I had to know to live a good life.
As soon as I started working and my resources allowed, I helped them from a distance in every way possible. Since my father passed away, I cared for my mother in the same city or in my home and tried to help her live her remaining life to the fullest. As an only child, I wouldn’t have been able to be comfortable otherwise.
Since she spent most of her life taking care of others--like her siblings, my ill father, and me-- it took some time for her to find relaxing activities that made her happy. There may be equal but not greater examples of unconditional love than what my mother always did for her family and loved ones.
In Seattle, she got to be the most comfortable and found a nice group of friends that made her last healthy days as enjoyable as I wished I could have made all of her life.
Since I moved to Korea in 2017, I had come to visit to Seattle her almost every month. This year her health hadn’t allowed her back home and I had been spending one week in Seattle and four weeks in Korea. In my most recent visit, I had been able to bring her a couple of her favorite dishes and take her for a new haircut. She seemed in good spirits and always glad that we got to spend every day together while I worked at nights on Korea time.
I received a call on November 16 from the hospital that my mother was in intensive care. This would be the third hospitalization since my September visit and I feared there wouldn’t be many more chances to be together. She overcame two terminal prognoses during hospitalization but unfortunately on Wednesday December 4th the neurologist assured me that she wouldn’t be able to interact with any of her loved ones or do any of the things she enjoyed to do again.
From that moment on I used the comfortable armchair in her hospital room to lie next to her and hold her hand while doctors made sure she did not suffer and remained in her last dream. Her body stopped breathing and let her rest forever at 4:16 PM on December 5, 2019.
My mother lived a little more than 72 years although she deserved to live an infinity. I just wish that I had done my best to make her life as good as she deserved. I find comfort in the hope that she has now reunited with my father. I will never see love like the one they had and I want them to share it again.
During the day her condition deteriorated she was given the last rites and up to when we said our last goodbye, the sky had been clear unusually for the Seattle area in December, as if the doors of heaven were opening to receive her. Since she left us on Thursday it didn’t stop raining for more than a day, as if the sky was crying the tears I had run out of.
Since my mother passed away, everyone who knew her has told me how she gave light to her surroundings with her constant smile. She didn’t live an easy life but hardship did not take away her hope or let herself be defeated and her bright outlook through all of it are something I aspire to.
Whether she selflessly helped you in any way she could, made you laugh with a sense of humor I imperfectly inherited, or reminded you how there can be happiness and beauty in simplicity by singing one of her favorite songs, I hope she touched your life and left even a bit of the positive energy that will never leave me. I also hope my mother left this world knowing that she was loved infinitely by me, her family and her close friends.
I ask everyone who would like to: pray for my mother to rest in peace and for those who knew her to have strength in this moment of agony. I am sad I don’t get another chance to tell my mother I love her, but I’m happy to have had the fortune to spend so much of my life to date enjoying her presence.
I will cry every time I hear a Pedro Infante song she loved--or the more contemporary Maroon 5 Memories as it describes perfectly how her memories will keep me going. I want to hug her again and tell her how much I love her and I can’t. Longer term I know I will always smile when I remember her, because all throughout her life that’s the happiness brought by having her love and that’s the only way to go through a life in her tribute.
Rest in peace, mom.
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