One day we took each other’s hand. We never let go

Have you ever had that feeling of enormous pressure on your heart, but somehow it feels nice? That’s what I feel when I see my mom. I could spend hours just watching her, the lovely skin of her face, the platinum tone of her hair and her wrinkled hands.

My mother is a woman with an enormous capacity to love, and to face challenges with the conviction that learning is what matters. She believes that this is what allows us to face life with optimism and courage. She was born in Puntarenas, the eldest sister in a group of nine siblings. She took on the responsibility of helping her parents take care of her siblings. She then raised three sons and two daughters, a brave woman all her life, believing in her own abilities.

Years later, as an adult, I have begun to see my mother from a different point of view: always with love and admiration, but also with great respect. From a young age she learned how to sew. Although it was never her full-time job, all you had to do was to see her sitting in front of a sewing machine in order to understand that this was her great passion. She has just turned 71. That passion is as strong as when I first saw it as a child. The hardest moments of her lifelike being forbidden from engaging in physical activity because of open-heart surgery, or the death of my father, with whom she shared 53 years of her lifeshe has healed them with sewing. That creative energy has been his great therapy and also a tool in her professional fulfillment as a woman, graduating from a haute couture program in the middle of the pandemic that has made so many of us reinvent ourselves. She used it as an opportunity fulfill one of her biggest dreams.

For this reason, more than admiring doña Bertha because she is my mother, I admire her for her courage as a woman. For showing me every day that with courage and hard work, the opportunities to be happy and fulfill our dreams are endless. That the power within women accompanies us from our birth and moves us forward. That women can do anything.

I honor her life, and I am grateful for her for bringing me into this world. She is my companion and my teacher. If I could ask for one thing in this world, it would be to become more like my mother.

Photographs courtesy of Izela Quirós/El Colectivo 506

During the month of February, as a complement to our “Women, Not Numbers” edition, we will be publishing the reflections of photographers on the women they most admire. We thank Izela for kicking off the series.