Amelia's Journey to America, WRITING CONTEST
Amelia's Journey to America, WRITING CONTEST
Amelia Florendo Gamboa was born on November 7, 1931 in Bauang, La Union in the Philippine Islands. She was the tenth child out of eleven children of Maternidad Nera and Rev. Federico Florendo. She grew up in Bauang where she met Ramon Gamboa and they fell in love, got married, and had ten children together. Ever since then, she had many journeys, but let me tell you of her journey to America.
In 1977, she came to the United States for a short vacation to visit her ailing sister, Dr. Fema Florendo. At the time, our youngest sister, Greta, who was only seven years old, was the only one that our mother could take with her, while the other nine had to stay behind. Mom wanted to get off the plane as soon as she boarded it, but when they finally arrived to the United States, both she and Greta, were greeted by her sisters, whom Mom had not seen for a while, and this made her feel very happy, once again. However, her youngest sister's health was rapidly failing. Sadly, she died of aneurism after seven years of being bed ridden.
As months went by, what she thought was going to be a short vacation became a very long vacation. Mom was not planning on staying at all, but through some of her family's persuasion, she had decided to stay a little while longer. Leaving nine of her children behind was probably one of the most difficult decisions she had to make; however, with her children's encouragement, she had decided to stay. Intermittently, even with the most grounded marriages, things go astray. Our father was a brilliant artist, and he travelled quite a bit. Regrettably, while our father was on a mission, he had chosen to move on and go a different path. With so many sacrifices and challenges our in our Mom's life, it had been a one great journey, and an experience she will never forget. After a few years of being a permanent resident, she was able to apply for citizenship; she eventually became an American citizen. She embraced United States as her home, and in return, it had given her many opportunities to seek for 'greener pastures. In spite of all the hardships she had to endure, our mother braved the unknown because she believed that "...All things work together for good to them that love God…" (Romans 8:28a, KJV Bible). So, she persevered, and looked for a job. After a few months, she started giving piano lessons, and got a job at the United Methodist Church in Los Angeles as an organist, who became her sponsor, and made it possible for her to acquire a working visa; this made her land secretarial jobs, which she held over at Pacific States University as well as Frances de Pau International House-an international dormitory for college boys and girls. In 1988, while working at Pacific States University, she achieved a Masters Degree in Business Administration.
During this time, Mom's older sister, Dr. Lois Bello, founder/conductor of the Philippine Concert Chorale, invited Mom to become a member of her choir. She started as an alto, and worked her way up to becoming an assistant organist. Being in the choir was an important part of her life. It was one way of putting her worries behind. Years later, she was employed by South Hollywood Presbyterian Church as their organist. Between 1982 and 1990, five of us joined our mother and youngest sister, Greta, in United States. In 1991, another brother of ours, Nitoy, joined us along with our dad. However, because of our father's failing health, his heart started to weaken. Due to our mother's deep affection for our family, she felt compassion towards our father. She made the decision to bring our father to America where he was treated of a heart bypass. After a couple of months, our father was able to leave with a healthy heart, and lived for another eight years because of our dearest mother's selfless act.
Unfortunately, after just a year had passed, our mother's health started to suffer; her kidneys were fading away. Our brother, Nitoy, saw the pain and suffering our mother was going through. He offered one of his kidneys to replace our mother's failing one. Being concerned about how this procedure would compromise our brother's health, our mother gracefully declined; however, with our brother's persistence, our mother was convinced, and finally accepted the offer. She was blessed with a renewed health, which enabled her to care for her many grandchildren, and two great-grand children. Moreover, after three long decades of waiting, our Mom's long awaited dream had now become a reality. Two of her ten children who were still living in the Philippines, had arrived in the United States. We are finally complete.
Regrettably, after only a couple of years our whole family had been reunited, our mother's health began to fail, once again. She was feeling very weak, and her kidneys started to fail, once more. Despite the continuing efforts of the doctors, our mother's health continued to decline. Even though our mother fought for her life until the very end, the Lord decided to ease her pain. She had joined Him in heaven at the age of 79. She was survived by ten children, twenty-four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. We were extremely blessed to have had a mother such as ours; she was beautiful in and out. Although we are deeply saddened by the death of our mother, we are comforted with the thought that she is no longer suffering, and is now rejoicing in the presence of our Lord. Amelia went to be with the Lord on February 22, 2011.
On behalf of my family, we would like to thank all of our aunts and uncles, especially Auntie Lois and Uncle Victor, whom also have joined our Heavenly Father years ago, for being like the "second parents" to us, and were also instrumental to getting our mother over to the United States. We love you all!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my siblings, husband and son for helping and supporting me in writing this article. I could have not done it without you!
Mom, we will never forget the many sacrifices that you've been through for us to lead better lives. We were very blessed to have had a mother who was kind, loving, beautiful, brave, and the most selfless person we've ever known. Although we will miss you, we are comforted with the thought that you are no longer suffering, and enjoying the presence of our Lord. Mom, you will always remain in our hearts. Until we meet again!
Grandchildren and great-grandchildren referred to their grandmother as "Mia," which means 'my' in Spanish. It also derived from the Spanish word, "amiga," which means 'friend.'