On this Mother’s Day and any other day, I still remember my mother and all the things she did for me and my brothers and sisters. My siblings probably don’t recall the sacrifices she made for us because I left for the military when they were very young.
My mother, Petra Reynosa Cortez was only 14 when I was born and we lived with my grandparents even though she had gotten married a few weeks before. After we moved in with my father, I was sent to Navarro Elementary School. I was never without clean clothes or new shoes and that’s because she believed in cleanliness even though we were poor. However, after school I took off my clothes and shoes and dress in my play clothes and went barefoot because where we lived in the barrio it was all dirt and mud if it had rained.
As a child I didn’t know that she worked in a pecan shelling factory with very low pay. She was the breadwinner in the family and my dad worked in packing plant which also paid very little. So as far as finances, she controlled the pocketbook. All decisions were made by her when it came to money and what activities I would participate at in school or at the community center.
She allowed me to join the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts later on so I could learn to be a better person rather than a street urchin. She bought my uniforms and all scout equipment with the meager pay she was receiving. Also, she paid and let me go to Summer Camp one year.
There was an article in the newspaper that feature a cartoon character and we were supposed to draw it as a prize incentive. Well, I drew it and won a prize to Arthur Murray dance studio for free dance. I was 13 at that time and yearning to learn how to dance. My mother agreed to escort me to the studio, taking off from work. The dance instructor taught me a few basic dance steps and afterward ask if I wanted to learn advanced dance steps. My mother said “no” and we left. I was able to go to a dance later that year at Lanier and dance with some girls.
When my dad was ill with Tuberculosis, he was sent away to Mission Texas for quarantine. My mother made a decision to move to the housing at Alazan Apache Courts. She was working as a seamstress and took in extra work from neighbors and family to supplement her income.
When I entered high school, she was there supporting me in every endeavor with proper clothes, uniforms and footwear. I had to wear combat boots, which was hard to buy, with my ROTC uniform and a special headgear when I became a cadet officer. However, she never went to see me in a drill team competition or a parade I was in due to being at work.
There was one time I was suspended for a school infraction and I was required to bring my mother to school for a conference with the vice principal. I felt ashamed that she had to lose time at work but she never scolds or punished me. It was like it never happened.
From the start, she allowed me to work as a newspaper boy, a newspaper delivery boy a furniture repair person, a grocery delivery boy, a prescription delivery boy, a scoutmaster. All the time believing in me that I would do good at everything that I wanted t do.
What I am today is what my mother push me to be. For that, I am thankful.