My Grandmother was orphaned when she was just months old and was given to an aunt who raised her to be independent and strong. She didn’t have any tangible luxuries, but she had the turquoise colored ocean and the cool breeze of her island. Her aunt became sick and Grandma was designated by the elders to take care of her; subsequently, she did not get an education.
She shared with me later that it hurt her deeply. When she had her children she started to desire education again and promised herself that she would give whatever she had to make sure they had the opportunity to learn as much as they desired.
Dreams of a “Better” Life
I spoke very little English when I moved to Missouri at age thirteen. I understood it quite well, but speaking it was difficult, especially with my very heavy island accent. I stayed quiet most days at school so that the other kids wouldn’t make fun of me. The loneliness was made bearable by the dreams I had. My dreams weren’t extravagant – I didn’t know the possibilities – but they were of comfort and peace that was different from my Grandmother’s constant struggle to feed her children and send them to school.
I aimed to give her comfort. Some days I wanted to go back home, then I cried myself to sleep, then woke up in the morning ready to tackle another day to get closer to a better life. Those were my Grandmother’s words … “a better life”. I didn’t even know what that meant other than the sorrows of Grandmother would be gone.
With daily prayers and goal setting, I had learned to speak fluent English at age 18. My dreams expanded from “a better life” to having a career and traveling the world. Grandma was moving slower, but she still encouraged me when I became tired of the grind and scolded me when I was out of line. There was so much chaos and fear in my childhood in learning a culture that was very different from mine, but Grandma had the foundation I needed.
The Reality of a “New” Life
I had been dating an island boy whom my family adored. He had the same values and understood the switch in cultures and it felt comfortable. When I found out I was pregnant, I felt my life and dreams stopped. My mother told me I had ruined my life and I believed her. In my culture there was no talk of abortion. In fact, I remember the day I learned about abortion in school. I thought “This is wrong. I would never do this, but I really shouldn’t impose my own values on someone else.”
Yikes! This is not about imposing values; this is about killing a child. But I digress. The dreams of a career and traveling the world seemed to have dissipated. Then I remembered the “solution”. I can have an abortion and I can continue my life.
On December 15, 1991 I gave birth to my son. My foundation of values won over my fear of losing my dreams. God whispered to me and I walked out of Planned Parenthood having faith that this is God’s plan.
With my son, I am living my dream. I have a career, I have traveled with him and also fulfilled my Grandmother’s dream. If I could speak to the scared girl who thinks her dreams are no longer attainable, I would say to her, “Your dreams are enhanced when you are so blessed to give birth to a child. You have the option to keep your child, or to allow another family adopt your child. No one can take your dreams from you.”
In choosing to keep my child, my dreams were never taken from me – in fact, my child made new dreams – dreams I would never have dreamed of – come true.