On Mother’s Day six years ago, I lost my son, my only child, to the war in Iraq. Every Mother’s Day, since that day, I have felt unable to write for this blog about anything else besides what this loss has meant to me. How could I? Our children, for better or for worse, define who we are. At whatever age, they are the sun around which our lives revolve. The loss for me, then, has meant reworking the way I live my life, to find purpose, meaning and direction in the chaos. And to learn to find joy again.
So, on this Mother’s Day, I think about my own mother and the gift of optimism that she left me. She taught me to persevere in the face of utter hopelessness. From Floria I also learned that there is a moment when one must not shy away from calling something what it is: she taught me to have the courage to speak the truth even when it’s inconvenient to the listener, let alone to me; indeed, she taught me to fight for what is right. She taught me to dream, to believe in myself. My mother gave me my ‘mother tongue,’ Spanish, even though we were Americans living in Laredo. She understood it was our identity that no one could take away. I inherited from her that ‘radar’ to ‘read’ a person, that my son also displayed; a certain sixth sense to understand what someone is saying between the lines. Whatever I am today, I owe partly to her. But there is also much owed to my child, whose wisdom taught me so much. That is what motherhood does, it turns us into complex human beings who learn from the children that are entrusted to us for that brief moment in time.
For now, I am blessed with other people’s children, these young children, my students, who look to me for guidance and consolation (and instruction in Spanish) for the short time they pass through my life. And there are the young adults whose lives are interwoven into the fabric of my life, who are more or less contemporaries of Alex and about whom I fuss and worry and offer solicited or unsolicited advice. Life goes on…if I look up from my laptop, out the window, I can see my little poet-philosopher Marine, an image on a ray of light, on this sun-dappled morning, nodding approvingly, smiling, holding out white roses for me, wishing me a perfect Mother’s Day. I’m still a mother, after all.
My recipe for buñuelos is my mother’s who made them on occasions when my little friends came over. She would make them with lemonade for us. Enjoy
- 1 egg
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon shortening
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar for dough
- oil for deep frying
- 2 tablespoons sugar per 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon for dusting
- Mix the flour and sugar in a bowl.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and drop the egg and shortening.
- Mix well with your hands until it attains a corn meal consistency.
- Add the water a little bit at a time (you may not need it all) and knead until you have a pliable dough.
- Let the dough rest for about ½ hour in the refrigerator.
- Divide the dough into balls about ½ the size of golf balls and roll out thinly; or if it’s easier, you can roll them out larger and cut into four wedges, but be sure to roll them out thinly on a floured surface.
- Heat oil in a skillet and fry the dough quickly on both sides until it is puffed up.