The movie ends, and I am weeping.
Weeping for my country, weeping for my people, weeping for the hopelessness in our land. Weeping because I remember that day.
* * * * *
Rain falls from the sky, drenching the people. They line the streets, pressing in from all sides. Each one waits for their opportunity to pass through the doors. They clutch their candles and their flowers, small tokens of the depth of love they feel for her.
To the bewildered officials that stand at the doors, this impassioned display of affection makes no sense. But they do not love her as we do.
We slowly move forward in the line, my mother weeping softly. I know that she reveres the First Lady as a saint. For I remember the smell of the office, and my mother clinging to her crutches, her crippled legs nearly crumbling beneath her as doña María Duarte de Perón embraced her with a kiss. With a quickly scribbled signature, she gave my mother a wheelchair.
And now she is dead.
* * * * *
All of our hopes died that day. Thousands mourned for days on end, filing one by one alongside her embalmed body, praying for her soul, and our own deliverance. For those few years, while she gave away her riches to the poor, we believed in hope. We believed that the people mattered, even to those who governed.
Forty-five years later, we have learned: no, we do not matter.
Since the days of Eva Perón, unstable governments and volatile economic conditions only reflect the disarray of political parties fighting for power in Argentina under every banner imaginable. But for the people, the descamisados, only she understood.
That is why my mother still prays to her. The old broken wheelchair stands next to a picture and a lighted candle. Perhaps her Santa Evita will look down from heaven and bless the people once again.
The Americans have captured the scene well. Their movie stirs up emotion within me; emotion I had left lying dormant beneath my driven business demeanor.
I have not called my mother for several months, and in this moment I feel compelled. ¿Mama? I wipe the tear from my cheek.
¡Mijo! she exclaims. ¡Gloria a Diós! You must come to see me. I have something to tell you ¡muy importante!
Come, mijo, she states simply, and hangs up.
I cannot imagine what may have filled her voice with such joy. The remainder of my childhood she had lived with such sorrow that I had run from home to escape the tears. Pursuing my dreams, succeeding in business, working my way to the top, but leaving the tears behind me. No, the people do not matter. If we want something, we must work for it. That is what separates me from my mother. She believes in the hope that someone else will deliver her. Either Santa Evita, Santa María, or perhaps some other deliverer.
The house on the outskirts of Buenos Aires looks the same, except for new flowers in the garden. I push the door open and walk toward the kitchen, expecting to find my mother there.
Mijo. My mother's voice stops me in the middle of the living room. She is standing by the fireplace.
She is standing by the fireplace.
¡Mama! You are standing! My own legs nearly buckle beneath me.
She laughs aloud. Sí, mijo, I must tell you. Last week I went to see a preacher named Carlos. He taught us that we only need to ask of God for healing. You know I prayed to the saints for many years, but they did not help me. So when I prayed to Jesus, my legs felt burning, and I believed that I would be healed if I stand. So, here I am I do not need the wheelchair anymore. And I pray to Jesus now.
I am speechless. My mother stands in front of me, and this I have never seen in all my fifty-four years. Joy shines from her face, sorrow no longer present. All this because of Jesus?
And as she explains the way of life to me, I begin to see.
Yes, there is hope for my country.
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