Memoria Mater: Mother’s Day 2020 (and Other Pieces of My Mind)

My mom at Lago de Tota (Boyacá, Colombia), circa mid-1950s, (Author’s Collection)

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, the fifth occurrence of the celebration honoring mothers, motherhood, and the bonds between mothers and their children since my mom, Beatriz Diaz-Granados, died, Needless to say, it was a difficult day for me; I was close to my mother, who passed away on July 19, 2015 at the age of 86 after a long series of illnesses that included hypertension, depression, dementia, and heart problems related to a long convalescence after a 2010 operation to repair her spine, so I spent a good part of my Sunday in a deep funk.

Mom and me in 1964, (Author’s Collection)

Now, now. I am not going to devote this blog post to rants about how tragic her last years on Earth were or how her plans for her two grown children went horribly awry. Maybe I’ll delve into those topics in the future. Not today, though.

Mom gets a (posthumous) double cameo in this still from director Juan Carlos Hernandez’s Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss.

My mom was my No. 1 hero and, in return, my No. 1 fan. She was:

  • Intelligent
  • Generous (often to a fault)
  • Funny
  • Beautiful
  • Elegant
  • Patient
  • Adventurous (She defied the wishes of her family and became a flight attendant for Avianca in the early 1950s. Not even my granduncle Bernardo, who was on the airline’s board of directors, could deter Mom, though he did give orders to her instructors not to cut her any slack in hopes that my mother would quit. She did not.)
  • Strong-willed (She raised two kids, my older half-sister Vicky and me, pretty much on her own.)
  • A survivor
  • An entrepreneur
  • Loyal
  • Open-minded
  • Well-traveled
  • A bibliophile
  • Best. Cook. Ever.
  • A huge fan of the Indiana Jones franchise
  • A huge fan of composer/conductor John Williams
  • Best. Mother. Ever.
The only favor I asked of the producers in exchange for writing a script: that the film be dedicated to my mother.

I can’t deny it. I miss my mother a lot. I don’t spend every waking second of my life wrapped up in a blanket of grief and gloom; I’d be incredibly difficult to live with if I did that. Life, after all, is a series of comings and goings, and like the proverbial show, it must go on.

But there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t have at least one passing thought about my mom, Beatriz Diaz-Granados.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

2 thoughts on “Memoria Mater: Mother’s Day 2020 (and Other Pieces of My Mind)

  1. I wasn’t as close to my Mom, plus her death was overshadowed by losing my daughter just over four months later. You are very lucky to have had such a close relationship with her. Not everyone does.

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    1. You are so right: I WAS extremely lucky that my mom and I had a great relationship.

      Sadly, I think that this fact is also the root of the enmity my half-sister feels toward me. She envied the rapport that Mom and I had. As a family unit, we didn’t gel easily; Vicky was sent off to boarding school at age 15 (the same year that my dad passed away) in part because she was too rebellious for Mom to deal with at a time when (a) she had just become a widow and (b) was raising a toddler (moi), As I recall, we tried living as a family three times: once in Bogota, Colombia, then twice more in my home town of Miami. I don’t remember too many details of the Bogota years: Vicky graduated from a Catholic girls’ school out in West Virginia in ’69 and rejoined the family in South America. She was 19 and I was six. As a result, I only have vague recollections (and ones I don’t really trust) from those years.

      Mom and I returned to the States from what was supposed to be our “forever stay” in Colombia after I had a cerebral hemorrhage and my pediatrician (a med school classmate of my half-sister’s dad, Mom’s first husband) advised my mother that I’d be better off living in the U.S. than in Colombia. In less than a month after my discharge from the hospital, Mom sold or gave away most of the things that she couldn’t afford to ship to Miami (roughly 70% of what we had in the house we rented, including 100% of my toys), and by May of 1972, we were back in the city where I was born. Vicky did not come with us. She chose to stay in Bogota. The rest of my family, especially the grandparents and my mom’s surviving aunts and uncles were not thrilled, but Vicky insisted. They knew her temper and strange behavior all too well, and only one of my grandaunts, Gabriela, agreed to Vicky into her large apartment; my half-sister wanted to live in her own apartment, but my grands were strict Catholics and extremely conservative and said, “Either stay with Aunt Gaby, or go to Miami with your mom and brother.”

      This is not the proper venue for the entire tale; suffice it to say that within three months of our arrival in Miami – and right in the midst of house-hunting – my grandfather called Mom and told her that Vicky had to come to the States. Neither Mom nor my half-sister had a choice in the matter. The only issue was who would pay Vicky’s air fare.

      So Vicky, against her wishes, joined us in Miami just in time for the start of the 1972-73 school year (I was in third grade then). Mom gave her the second-largest room in the house; it was across the hall from my room (the smallest).

      Again, my memory about this attempt to live together is hazy and unreliable. All I know is that the mood in the house was always one of tension when we three were together. Not between Mom and me, but between Mom and Vicky. I can’t (blessedly) remember specifics, but I do remember a lot of yelling, arguing, and the occasional door slams. this lasted about a year or so, until finally Vicky was asked to move out at the height of the Watergate crisis.

      The second (and last) attempt that we made to cohabit with my half-sister is clearer, because by then I was 14 and thus more aware of things. This was when my grandmother fell in love with the then-new model homes at a new development called East Wind Lake Village, which was not far from the house we lived in at the time. Well, for better or worse Grandmother convinced Mom to sell that house and buy a townhouse in EWLV. And Vicky, who was finishing her studies to become an LPN, begged Mom to let her move back in with us. (I didn’t object; I was too young and low-man-on-the-totem-pole to even have an opinion, and I truly didn’t remember too well why Vicky had had to move out a few years back.)

      Well, I won’t bore you with a long and probably boring story full of “sturm und drang.” Suffice it to say that life with Vicky in the condo I shared with her and our mother was a living hell. Not only did she argue constantly with Mom about domestic issues (like her share of the expenses or her bad habit of taking her nursing class friends to her bedroom to study while listening to loud music; this last was an issue because Mom had assented to letting Vicky have the master bedroom (the biggest in the house). which was a short distance away from mine. On school nights this was a hassle, because by then I was in junior high school and needed to be up by six to catch the bus at 7, And often, Vicky would lock the doors to the bathroom AND her bedroom, which sucked because we shared that bathroom. When she did that, she could enter the bathroom from her room, but I could not. So we quarreled like cats and dogs over the loud music and the denial-of-access to the bathroom.

      There were other conflicts and acts of sheer spite on her part, and I put up with them as best I could. But eventually the mood of our home became tense and dark, until my grandmother (who was visiting us) took her aside and talked her into leaving and moving into her own space. (This was some time in 1979, because by 1980 Mom had moved from the small bedroom downstairs and into the master.)

      I sometimes wonder if the animosity my half-sister has toward me is a result of being forced to move back to Miami against her will back in 1972. I’m no mental health expert, but that’s what I think at times.

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