Who am I?
By Ruth Bomar
This month I turn fifty. All life’s changes cause me to wonder, “Who am I?”
Am I defined by my ethnic heritage? My parents immigrated to the US in 1947 looking to build a better life for themselves and their children yet unborn. My life was being planned before I existed. My papa became an American citizen in 1960. Later in 1976, I filled out applications for financial aide to attend college. While gathering all the information, I realized our family lived below the poverty level. I became agitated, like seventeen-year-olds can. “No sabia usted Papa, que nosotros calificamos para recibir ayuda del gobierno? Did you know, Papa that we qualify for food stamps, governmental housing and welfare assistance?”
“Si,” he nodded. “When I pledged my allegiance to this country and became an American citizen, I promised I would not be a burden to the government. So I work.”
Following the steps of my three older sisters, I graduated from college in 1980 and married my tall, slender, pink Texan. My husband and I faced many opportunities to quit and walk away but we passed them all up. We’ve been married now for 28 years just because I gave my word to this man and he gave his word to me that sweltering August afternoon in El Paso.
My credentials should be Ruth Bomar, M.O.M. I never loved with such depth before the moment I held my firstborn. The realization confronted me, “Dios mio, I’m the mama. I’m in charge of the outcome of this precious baby boy.” Twenty-four years later, that boy walked the stage to receive his degree. He thought it was “his” day but I knew in my heart it was really “my” day. I was a success. I was fulfilled.
All the hours spent pursuing my degree then my post graduate degree, do not compare to the education I received while raising children. Raising another human being builds character and inner strength. Nothing fills the heart more than the knowledge that your children are happy, healthy and productive adults.
On days when I slip into my existential robes, I must conclude that if I ever lose the memory of the heritage my parents bequeathed me, if I ever lose the memory of my life-companion, if I lose the memories of my children and all the books I’ve read; my life would have definition still. I would hang the tapestry of my existence on this pillar.
I am because I believe and I believe in the Author of marriage, family, and wisdom. I believe in God.