Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)
TITLE: How My Mother Taught My Brother to be a Man
By Leticia Caroccio
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When we were children our father left us. Then he came back. Then he left us again. Then he came back again. And again, and again. Over and over this ugly process was repeated. With each departure he left behind a family in shambles, in confusion, in pain. But none more so than my younger brother, Willo.
I was six years older than Willo and a little more mature. While it hurt to see my father abandon his family, my brother was always left with the most questions, questions that pierced your heart and there really weren’t any concrete answers to give. “Why did Papi leave me?”, “When is he coming back?”, “Where did he go?”, “Was it because of me?” My mother’s answers to him were always the same, “I don’t know”
My father’s departures had taken a toll on my mother, too, on her spirit and on her will to go on and raise her four daughters and her young son. Until she had an encounter with the Lord. She had always professed to being a Christian but never really knew the Lord.
At my mother’s lowest point, one dark night, she fell to the floor by her bed and cried out to God. We could hear it from our rooms. Her cries were heart-wrenching and guttural. She cried and battled all night long. She questioned God. She told Him how she couldn’t do this alone. She told Him how scared and angry she was, at my father and at Him. Then she cried some more. Finally, as the sun began to come up, she was quiet and still. We could hear her sniffling and breathing hard. Then we heard her sit on the bed and take a deep breath. She put her tired feet into her worn slippers and headed to the kitchen.
As the years went by my father’s time away from us grew longer and longer until one day he just stopped coming home. There were no goodbyes, no explanation. But since the night of her cries, my mom was different. She arose from her knees that night determined that her children wouldn’t be lost, that her son would learn to be a man, from her and from her God. My mother became both mother and father to us. She taught my brother how to ride a bike and how to throw a curve ball. She taught my brother how to tie his first tie and how to shave. She taught him how to treat a lady with respect and dignity. She taught him (and us, too) about the faithfulness and mercy of her loving God, how He had met her there on the floor beside her bed.
Today, my brother is a happily married man, with two awesome daughters that absolutely adore him and he adores them. He doesn’t want to miss a day of their lives. He is a witness to all those awesome milestones, first tooth, first steps, and first words. He is a hands-on dad if there ever was one. Most importantly, he is there, everyday.
Every once in a while my brother gets this far away look in his eyes and I always know that he wonders about our father, still with the same questions. “Where is he?”, “Why did Papi leave me?”, and the answers are still the same: we don’t know. But one thing we do know and it is this: God truly is love, He truly is faithful and He will never leave us or forsake us.
When Mother’s Day rolls around my brother always gets my mom a nice gift. When Father’s Day comes, though, that’s when he pulls out all the stops. He reserves his absolute best to give my mom. On a day usually reserved for loving fathers, my brother celebrates the mother who taught him to be the man that he is.
My mother may have set out determined to teach my brother how to become a man, but she also taught us that God is our Heavenly Daddy who will never abandon us.
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