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I Learn America

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

I do it for my Mom…

By Grace Pinargote  |   From : Miramar, FL  |   School : Everglades High School

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I was born on October 8, 1999. Although I can’t possibly remember my birth date, I know it marks a significant  part of my story. You see, my mother had many complications during her pregnancy with me, she was told she was having a miscarriage  and to either abort the fetus or she may lose her life. (To this day I have no idea why my mother chose to put the life of an unborn fetus before her own). On her day of labor, my mother’s life was put at great risk. I’m certain her life must have flash before her very eyes. My mother was born a little Pueblo called San Pedro Sula located in Honduras. She grew up on a farm with her father in many siblings. At an early age, my mother learned how to be hard-working. She would constantly tell her self “un dia yo no voy a tener que limpiar, yo voy hacer tan exitosa que voy a poder tener muchas empleadas en casa.”  Which translates to “Someday I won’t have to clean, I’m going to be so successful I’ll be able to have many cleaners in my home.” But in the meantime, she would continue working at home; cooking and cleaning while still trying to get an education – all so she could provide for her family. At the age of 17, she traveled alone to the United States in search of better opportunities for a new life.  For the first few years she had lived with some relatives; moving from state to state. One day, she had watched a movie called Scarface; that movie inspired her to move  down to Miami –  A decision that would change her life forever. When she moved to Florida, she attended Miami high to earn her GED. She would work all day  at a Domino’s and go to night school; where she would finish her studies and try to learn English. Every week or so, she would send money to her family in Honduras. When she completed her high school education, she enrolled in Miami Dade college and wanted to get a degree in business.  Although she was never able to finish college, she always had the ambition to succeed. In her early 20s, she started selling perfumes. She would walk into bars, restaurants, clubs, etc. and offer perfumes for sale in a box.  Originally she was a little shy and scared to walk into new places by herself. During this time, she lived in a one bedroom apartment with her two young children. My mother would work day in and day out trying to provide for her family. After many years of hustling, she finally began to thrive. Her clientele had grown so much she was able to move to Doral and enrolled my brother and sister in good schools. A few years later she had met my dad. They fell in love and got married on February 14, 1996. He became the step father of my two older siblings as well as my mother’s business partner. He joined her in the perfume business and together they would visit their clients and make sales and pick up whatever was owed.  Anyone who knew my mom and dad in that era can tell you one thing for sure  -They were a good duo. A couple years later, my older brother was born. My mom was making over $200,000 a year just from her own income. Her and my dad would dress stylishly and cruise around in the newest cars. As the family expanded, my mother decided to buy a house in Miramar. That very home would be where I grow up throughout my first stage of life. My home is very beautiful. My mom could definitely say it’s one of her greatest accomplishments.  At this point in her life, my mother was thriving. In the year of 1999 she got pregnant with me. During her pregnancy, her and my dad started having lots of problems.  My mom had to provide for her kids so she couldn’t stress about my dad. As always, she would work nonstop. The problem was, her pregnancy was becoming dangerous. The doctors begged my mom to please stop working or she would lose me and possibly her own life. But my mother had no choice. She had no one to help or provide for her family and she had to make sacrifices. On the day of her labor, my older brother was suffering from a severe stomach virus. Alone and terrified, she decided to take him to my grandmas house.  When she had arrived to the hospital, she did not have anyone to hold her hand through the process. My dad did not show up during my birth. The day where both our lives could’ve ended… and my dad wasn’t even there to help her through it. Somehow they got passed it. As a child I was close to both my mom and dad.  Slowly they were repairing their relationship and again my mother started flourishing.   In 2002, my little brother was born. Our family was finally complete.  My mom was happy.  Not even two years later, my mom and dad divorced.  My poor baby brother was barely 2 when my dad decided to walk out on us. Unfortunately, my little brother was never able to experience what it’s like to have a father figure at all. When my parents separated I was torn. I was constantly crying and practically traumatized by the abandonment. My mother says when I was in kindergarten, I would approach the other kids asking for “a man that can be my new dad as long as he didn’t already have a family”.  The next few years were a little tough adjusting to my new life in a broken home. I remember school making us write Father’s Day cards and me refusing because I didn’t have one.  The last time I saw my father was sometime between 2006 and 2007 I really can’t remember. In the year of 2008, the economy became weak. My mother, along with five kids, was beginning to decline again. I remember that was the year my mom told me Santa wasn’t real (because she couldn’t afford to get us gifts). I write this story in the year 2017, the last time I celebrated Christmas -the way most families do – I believe was in 2007. I don’t blame my mother. I know she tries her very best. She works almost every hour of the day 365 days a year including on sick days, birthdays, and holidays. My dad left the country to avoid paying child support. This made things even harder on my mom.  Around the same time he left the country, my grandpa and uncle on my mothers side had passed away. My mom fell into a deep depression. Her brother left behind two sons and my mom took it upon herself to raise them and provide for them from here in the United States.  I guess you could say in a way, my mother was providing for seven kids on her own.  Every year, my mother, brothers (on my fathers side)  and I would collect clothes, toys, school supplies etc. to send to the kids in Honduras who are too poor to afford them. I remember walking around my neighborhood going door to door asking for donations (mind you, I was just a little girl).  My mom  always taught me it was good to give back, especially to those in need. Another thing that my mom had taught me was how to be hard-working. Every spring, winter, summer break,  my mom takes us to work with her. She does it to teach us to work, as well as to spend time with us (considering she does not get to see us very often). As a kid, it was hard for me to see that. Other kids would go on vacations or do extracurricular activities – I was working. When I got into middle school, it was hard. I was instantly judged by everyone the minute I stepped foot on campus. I was not like the other kids. I wore the same clothes, could not afford braces, had an old book bag and horrifically short  hair. I exaggerate the hair a little because it really had an effect on me. Throughout all of six grade, there barely went a day where I wasn’t laughted at for looking like a boy. I remember my very first day of middle school like it was yesterday. I walked into the  girls locker room and everyone started whispering trying to figure out if I was in the right room. It was absolutely embarrassing. And it never stopped there. I was constantly bullied for my appearance. Both boys and girls and made fun of me.  I always felt if I had more money, things might’ve been different. I would’ve had nicer clothes, more luxuries, and more friends. But there was one thing I knew I had for sure. My home.  My mom always said “I know I could never buy you guys much but if there’s one thing you guys have that many people don’t.. it’s this house.” And I knew she wasn’t lying. My home is  practically a dream house. Anyone who’s ever visited knows its value. I never let the bullying get to me (to the point of depression).  However, it definitely had a critical affect on my self-esteem. To this day, I am still struggling with the way I look or how people see me.  My mom is always working so she doesn’t really know what my life is like.  I’m not exaggerating when I say my mom has never asked me “how was school?” There are times where she forgets what grade I’m in.  Growing up, it’s been hard not being able to have a parent to go to. Whether it be for advice, or homework help, or even  to sit down and have dinner every night. But I don’t resent how much my mom works. Despite her being distant, she’s always been there for me. Since the divorce, my father has only called me maybe a handful of times. On my 12th birthday, he called. I remember that being the day I found out about his new life.  As he was telling me happy birthday, I heard a little girl in the background calling him. When I asked him about it,  he told me I had “two little sisters.” I was furious. He left my family behind and wouldn’t even support us financially-and yet, he has more than enough for his new family.  My father has been gone for over 10 years now. Despite some of the experiences I’m sharing, I’ve never let  any of it ruin my life. If anything, I have used those experiences to make me stronger. My mother has worked too hard for me to let her down. My only goal is to make her proud and become a successful business woman just like her.  I aspire to take my mother’s business one step further; and become the CEO of my own perfume department.  I know I’m going to succeed someday. And I know my mother and I have only gone through so much because God wants us to someday share our story. There is so much being left out of the story but the main idea remains – my story matters. I hope to someday be an influence and help others in this world. I want to someday share my story with everyone and give people hope; that they too can make it.  I thank God every day for the mother he gave me; because she truly is a blessing. My name is Grace, and this is my story.