Jewish& is a blog by Be’chol Lashon, which gives voice to the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity of Jewish identity and experience. The original multicultural people, Jews have lived around the world for millennia. Today, with globalism and inclusion so key in making choices about engaging in Jewish life,Jewish& provides a forum for personal reflection, discussion, and debate.
My family has always been the foundation of my life. I have very strong bonds with both my parents. Over the years, I have come to appreciate how my parents raised me based on their life experiences. My parents have been married for 33 years, and I always look to them for guidance and support. I think of them as my heroes. Although I think of my dad as a hero as well, since it is Mother’s Day, I’d like to highlight the reasons that I think my mother is a hero.
My mom is my hero because she has the strength to accomplish the seemingly impossible. In 1975, as one of the top students in the state, she was forced to drop out of college to make ends meet. She was sleeping from couch to couch when finally someone took her in. Around this time, she got a job working for GM on the production line. After being laid off for a few years, she said that enough was enough and went back to working as an apprentice electrician. However, on the day she was supposed to take her tests for her journeyman certification, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She told the doctor, “Hold that thought. I don’t have time for this right now. I have two finals that I must take, and I’ll deal with this diagnosis after I take my final.” My mom ended up scoring the highest grade on the test and earned the right to call herself a journeyman electrician. She was then transferred to a factory called Pontiac Truck and Bus, also known as Pontiac Assembly Center, where she was subject to extreme racist and sexist attacks and threats of violence (I don’t want to get started about the years of lawsuits my family went through). Due to these conditions, my mom was forced to retire, after almost 30 years with GM. Furthermore, due to the stress from work, her MS was exacerbated and she was forced to use mobility aids to move around.
Through all of this, my mom still had faith in G-d and always looked at the positive side of things when life dealt her a bad hand. Every day my mom reminds me how important it is, as a woman, to remain strong and to learn to survive by yourself. I’m so lucky to have my mom in my life, and also my father, who has provided my mom with the support I want my husband to provide since they first met 37 years ago. I think that it’s important that I always remember the fight my mom went through to get where she is today. My mom will always be my hero.