According to the United States Census Bureau, “21 percent of married-couple households have at least one foreign born spouse.”
This means someone decided to leave their home and everyone they knew to be able to start a new life with their spouse in a different, foreign country.
Now I don’t know if I can really understand what this feels like, but it’s something my mom did. And she did it for love.
One of the most undeniable and powerful things we know to exist is love. We listen to songs about love, we yearn for love, we hurt when we love, we do crazy things when we love.
And as many others have done before her, my mom left behind her whole life to follow her love.
The real sacrifice she made, and the leap of faith she took, are things I sometimes overlook. But my parents 24th wedding anniversary is this month, as is my mother’s anniversary of immigrating to the United States from Ecuador, so I thought it was time to tell their story.
My mom grew up in Guayaquil, Ecuador with her parents, five brothers and one sister. She has endless stories to tell of her childhood, from flying small planes over the beach with her father, a pilot for the Ecuadorian air force, to getting into all kinds of mischief with her brothers.
Her father owned a hotel in a small beach town called Manglaralto, so she and her siblings would spend their weekends at the beach, riding into town on “borrowed” donkeys from the neighbors and befriending the surfers who came from all over the world to compete in local surfing competitions.
The stories she’s told me about growing up in Ecuador seem like one adventure after another, which is maybe why she was so ready to embark on this one.
In 1992, my mom met my dad, who had come to Ecuador from America with the Peace Corps. The next year they were married, and my mom made the decision to leave everything she knew and come to live with my dad in the United States.
“You know, I don’t remember feeling scared,” she said. “I remember feeling the most sad about not being around to watch my nephews grow up, but I wasn’t scared.”
My mom doesn’t get to watch her nieces and nephews grow up and have children of their own. She worries about not being there for her parents now that they’re getting older.
Living so far away from those you love and share your roots with is so hard, which is why we try to visit our family in Ecuador as much as we can.
I am grateful to have grown up with two countries I can call home, both full of loving family and friends, and it is all because of my mom.
“You two make it worth it,” she says about my brother and I. “If I didn’t come here I would’ve never had you. I did it for you.”
I will never be able to thank her enough for the sacrifices she made. I just hope she knows that now, everything I do is to make her proud, because I am proud of her and the things she’s done for love.