Volume XVII, Issue 19 # MAY 7 - May 13, 2009

Our Two Mothers

How closely related are our bonds to our Mother Earth and our birth mothers

by Albert ‘Abby’ Ybarra

My life changed forever with the passing of my mother, Sofia Erminia ‘Minnie’ Gonzalez Ybarra, in California last summer.

Minnie Ybarra, who died at 80, touched the lives of tens of thousands of people.

My 80-year-old mother touched the lives of tens of thousands of people over two decades of volunteer work heading farm-worker service centers and medical programs.

She left on her celestial journey after being diagnosed with breast cancer. When doctors informed Mom that there was no operation or therapy available, she accepted her fate and became increasingly bright with an inner peace, and clear thoughtfulness of wisdom flowed forth.

My three brothers and I sang to her, and we all held on to her lovingly as we could, as we all shared her final breaths.

Not long before my mother’s passing, at a forum on Climate Change and Global Warming at the National Museum of American Indians, I had occasion to consider how closely related are our bonds to our Mother Earth and our birth mothers. The key to help change our loveless way for Earth, one of the elders said, is to think of the Earth not as a resource but as our relative.

We indigenous people call Earth our mother because of the total respect we have been taught for one who gives us life and sustains our life. To not have this affection for our mother and our Earth is unthinkable. For we are related to all living things.

Both are nurturing, life-giving, soul-sharing and caring entities. But there are other aspects, as we see in nature all the time, for both good and bad weather are aspects of climate. Our birth mothers are the same way, aren’t they? We had great days with Mom — and the days we knew her wrath when we let her down.

My soul leaped with joy as, listening to this elder’s words, I felt the effects of love and wisdom mom shared with me.

I was fortunate that I was taught early in life to show and give respect to all living things. That’s probably why I revered my mother so much, for she gave so much not only to my brothers and me but also to everyone she ever met. Not many people would meet my mom and not become her life friend. She had that way of showing love and caring toward all people.

Likewise, the Earth gives us all the chance to sustain our life with what she provides us. I can openly thank the Earth for all my blessings every day, and not feel strange if someone sees or hears me say it so. It’s a way of life embedded in my heart and soul. Much like the love my mom gave, it is unconditional and caring.

In return for my mother’s love, I have been happy to continue learning and, as an environmental educator, share what she taught me.

After the symposium, I called my mom to tell her what I experienced. She was already dealing with her own fate. She knew slow and painful days until her end were her future. Days much like the slow and steady degradation our Mother Earth is experiencing now. Yet Mom was happy that I was so involved with my way of life and let me know it was the right path for me to follow.

As we visit and recall our mothers this Mother’s Day, let us also remember the unconditional love our Earth Mother gives us. Let us give the same consideration to our Earth Mother as we give to our birth mothers.