This month marks the tenth anniversary of our arrival in the United States. Before setting foot on American soil, my sons and I knew that there would be challenges to overcome. My elation at reuniting with my mother and siblings, after over thirty years of separation, lasted for only two days.
Day One: Arrival.
Day Two: Visit to Hollywood Boulevard. (Captioned photo taken that day.)
Day Three: Showdown.
My mother had expectations that I could not fulfill. Past hurts and differences found expression. You were a problem since you were three. I helped you raise your children so you could work. (I was her firstborn.)
Day Four: My mother moved out.
You don’t give me what I want, you’re on your own, her action said. I had failed my sons. I had promised them that they would have a family in the USA. Within three weeks, with my sister’s help, we found an apartment that suited our needs and purse.
In the months and years that followed, I had hard lessons to learn. I had changed. My mother and siblings had changed. We no longer shared the same values and goals. I had been naïve to believe that our companionship and love would have meaning for them.
When my sons started to work, our relationship slowly changed. I had to learn to let go of control. That did not come easy. You don’t trust us to do the right thing, they complained. I had to work at building that trust. They were no longer kids. Overnight, they had become men.
My sons have had their own individual challenges in adapting to life in the United States. I shared the joys of their early achievements: learning to drive, buying their first vehicle. One learned a trade and became an independent contractor. The other is an electronic games designer. They continue to support each other and provide for my needs. They know that I’m there for them whenever they need me.
When we left Brazil, I had no plans of becoming a writer. I began keeping a journal as a form of therapy. Over time, my writing developed into a hobby to stimulate my mind bored with the repetitive tasks of a retail job.
On my writer’s website, I share my journey as a writer. In December 2011, after four years of research and writing, I completed my first novel, Under the Tamarind Tree. The next eighteen months were spent in revisions, cutting, and polishing. I am currently seeking a literary agent.
My sons and I have forged friendships with generous and caring Americans who treat us with respect and accept us among them. Without their help and fellowship, we could not have made Los Angeles our home. For each one of my friends and my sons’ friends, I give thanks.