mother photo

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Where would we be without our mothers?

I lost mine in 1994. She was only 64; I was a mere 29 years old. And my life has never been the same.

My mother was everything to me. Mentor. Protector. And she filled me with pride, confidence and the will to get things done. My mom removed all artificial barriers. She told me I could do anything. I believed her and became the first writer in my immediate family.

I loved my mom’s homemade tamales so much, I stopped eating tamales for a decade after she passed. I still only order occasionally and as soon as the plate arrives I make a face and say to myself, ‘This is nothing like my mom’s tamales. They were the absolute best.’ I still think I am right about that.

My point is, when you are blessed with a beautiful mom, you should cherish every moment with her. I did not learn that lesson until my mom was gone. For many of you reading this, it is not too late.

We are dedicating this special Mother’s Day edition to all the Latina mothers who have made us the community, the people and the beautiful individual we each are today.

For many Latinos/as, including those with ties to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Italy, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela celebrate on the second Sunday in May.

And those who subscribe to Mexican, Guatemalan, and El Salvadoran tradition, celebrate on May 10. And of course, scores of Latinos/as celebrate Mother’s Day in the U.S. on May 14.

Many of you celebrate more than once. A good friend told me this morning how his family gathered on May 10 to cook for their mother and her grandchildren. And on Sunday, the family will gather again, but this time to take their cherished mother to a fancy restaurant. I think that is beautiful because we cannot celebrate moms enough.

My mother grew up with Cesar Chavez in East San Jose. They became friends shortly after the Chavez family moved to California from Arizona. Before my mom passed away, she used to share a photo of a young Cesar dressed in a Zoot Suit. He also sent her letters in the mid-to-late-1940s, when he served in the U.S. Navy.

My mother took me by the hand to join Cesar-led strikes and boycotts. I have fond memories of running on grass and swinging my little red-and-black United Farm Workers union flag in the wind. I knew people were gathered for important work at these rallies. We saw the sheriff’s deputies who lined up against us. We saw the brave farmworkers who lined up on the other side of those deputies to protect the protestors. I should have been afraid. I never was.

My mom was always nearby.

Once, while boycotting produce products sold by Safeway without proper compensation to the farm workers, my mom put herself and me in a bit of danger. A trucker in a big rig decided he was going to drive through the picket line to offload his ill-gotten goods. My mom saw what he was about to do, and she grabbed me (I was about 5 at the time) and made us stand in front of that 18-wheeler. The driver honked. Over and over. He inched the truck closer and closer to my mom.

But she would not budge. Even with me, her youngest child, beside her.

The trucker eventually gave up and retreated as the protestors shouted in glee. A local newspaper photographer was able to capture that moment with my mom and I in front of that big rig, blocked by a mother who stood barely 5-feet-tall and a young boy with a black and red flag.

I loved looking at that newspaper clipping as I grew older and bigger.

But that clipping is gone now. But never the memory.

You likely have your own “brave mom” stories. Or stories about how your mom made ends meet with little cash and no credit card. Or how she made every holiday seem special, even when the family funds were precariously low.

Maybe you have forever memories of her best dishes.

Or perhaps, you are among the lucky ones, whose amazing moms are still with us, working their magic.

No matter where your mom is, here or in heaven, we wish her the best. Always.

Please enjoy this special issue. It was made for your Latina mom.

And … mom, Happy Mother’s Day to you. I miss you more than I can possibly write down.

Read more stories about this special day here.

Daniel Vasquez is a veteran, award-winning journalist and writer. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist who grew up in newsrooms, having served stints at the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, San Jose...