Mother’s Day at Louisville Greyhound Station Gift of Welcome and Reunion
As she walked toward me in the middle of the bus station, the first thing I noticed was the long bright red sweater pulled down tightly over her very pregnant body. Looking at her bright, dark eyes, almost perfect complexion and wide smile, no one could have guessed that Maura had just stepped off a bus that had brought her from Dallas to Louisville, not to mention the weeks of detention after her long journey, mostly by foot, from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexican border.
Immediately, our eyes and hearts connected as, juggling her small bags and the gift packet she had just received, Maura said, “I am going to Indianapolis. Do you know how far away that is?” When I assured her that it was not more than two more hours, the relief was evident in her face.
It was Mother’s Day, and I had been invited to join Alicia Ramirez and Eleanor Craig, who had traveled from the Loretto Motherhouse to bring food and other sundries to migrants traveling by Greyhound from Texas to points north. Because Nicaragua is also my home, it felt good being able to welcome a family of five, including a toddler in arms, who had journeyed from northern Nicaragua. Happily they told us, “We will now be living in Louisville.”
The layover for others was just 20 minutes, and Alicia and Eleanor had carefully illustrated for me and my friends Shannon and Jane the way in which the packages were to be quickly distributed among the women, men and children.
Having waited until 4:30 p.m. for the bus that had been due to arrive at 3 p.m., it seemed that the 20 people welcomed and attended to were gone in a flash. In spite of how very weary they must have been, each person expressed gratitude and exhibited a sense of resiliency and hopefulness that, just as with Maura, seemed to mask much of the difficulty we knew their journey of some five months had entailed.
Once learning the bus would be late, Eleanor and Alicia had asked two young men if they might share their table for the gift packages. Jaime immediately said, “Si,” and explained that he and his friend were waiting to welcome his father and a younger brother who also were arriving after a five-month journey from their home in San Marcos in western Guatemala. Jaime himself had made the same pilgrimage alone two years earlier when he was just 17 and was proud to say that he now had a job assisting the cook of a Mexican restaurant in town. “And now I will be able to help my father and brother just as others had helped me in the beginning.”
How wonderful it was for us being able to watch the joyous reunion of father and son and of Jaime with his brother!
For me, having worked with pregnant mothers from rural communities in the northern Nicaraguan highlands of Matagalpa, it was an amazing Mother’s Day gift that I could be there at the bus station to welcome Maura. It also brought back wonderful memories of our Casa Materna’s service to almost 18,000 mothers over a period of 27 years.
Just before she returned to the bus, I had asked Maura, “And when is your due date?” Proudly she responded with one hand touching the child within her, “Now it is just a bit more than two weeks away, and this is my first baby.” As she turned to leave, I so much wanted to join her on the bus and hear the whole of her story. Why had she left her country? What obstacles had she met? What was it that gave her such inner strength at this late date in her pregnancy? Who would be there to meet her in Indianapolis?
However, I contented myself with letting Maura know what a great privilege it had been to meet her and spend that brief time in her presence, and then I bid her farewell, saying “Dios les bendiga, Maura, y que vayan bien vos y tu bebe,” “God bless you and your baby, Maura, and may you go well, arriving safely at your destination.”
And now today I am wondering if Maura gave birth on May 30, the day when all mothers are honored and celebrated in Nicaragua.