|The newlyweds, Evansville IN, 1947|
She grew up surrounded by the beauty of sugar cane fields and rice paddies, tropical rains, mango trees, and the freedom to run and play in safety with neighborhood friends.
The stories she told me as I was growing up of her childhood were enchanting to me. The raft her brothers built to float down the river, the pigs and piglets she was given charge to care for until the mother pig was offered up as a Christmas barbecue every year that broke her heart... The strict discipline of her grandmother, Celerina who was raised in the traditional Spanish school of etiquette, and who would pinch her if she squirmed in church. The invasion of the Japanese during the Second World War, and their hurried escape into the mountains to hide for months in safety from the brutality of the soldiers. The joy that the Americans had set their country free and driven out the Japanese, combined with the grief of losing her older brother Chrisolito as a prisoner of war during the Bataan death march.
And finally, the day that the handsome young American soldier wandered into Knox Methodist church in Manila, where her brother was the pastor, and she sang in the choir. That soldier was my dad, PFC Donald Sansom who served in McArthur's headquarters during the war, and married her two years later.
The Filipina who was studious and well educated, married the mid-western all-American boy who took her home to Indiana to meet his family. Life was very, very different. There was cold weather, snow, and curious eyes to see this strange island girl who had moved into the all-white neighborhood. My mom was an oddity, but one thing she had was charm and confidence, even when she didn't feel confident at all. She was invited to speak at all the local churches about life in the Philippines, and became more well known that my dad in his own hometown.
|Her first snow, Evansville IN, 1947|
As years went by, a masters degree from Boston U, a new baby girl (my sister), decisions to serve as full-time missionaries to Korea, more studies, another baby boy, and the adventure that took them to the war-torn capital city of Seoul in 1957, where I was eventually born, brought out some of the best traits in my mom. She was resilient, disciplined, adventurous, an excellent speaker and professor, and a very devoted mom with the most welcoming arms and the softest lap to hug and kiss her children. She was not perfect, but I don't want to list her imperfections. In fact, coming from the time and culture she was raised in and from the struggles she went through in war time and poverty, I wonder how many other women would have fared emotionally.
|The family grows to four in Nashville, TN 1956|
My beautiful mom is the sharpest, smartest, most vibrant 90 year old I know. She survives my dad, who she cared for meticulously until his last day of life in 2010. She has a wealth of experience, knowledge, memories, love and laughter that she carries within her, and I love her immensely. I know that her prayers and faith have sustained me much more than I can realize, and I pray for her years to come to be full of blessings - who knows, as healthy as she is, she'll probably reach 100!
Happy birthday Mama!!