My Mother’s Hands

A story honoring the undocumented domestic workers, and women cleaning businesses, hospitals and government buildings to protect us against COVID-19.

I would like to share a story in honor of all the women cleaning businesses, hospitals, homes, and government buildings during the pandemic. My story is about my mother’s hands but it could be about your mother’s hands — the hands of women who are protecting us against COVID-19.

My mother’s hands are a form of magic because with them she can do anything.

Any time she chooses, she can make delicious food. The best homemade tortillas, barbacoa, menudo, enchiladas, tamales, buñuelos, and hot cocoa (Chocolate Abuelita).

Her hands become tender and skillful whenever I am sick. They reach out to me with hot tea, toast, antibiotics, or even better, they rub my chest with Vic’s VapoRu. And if I have a fever, her hands instantly become the thermometer I need.

When my mom gets angry, her hands can grab anything in reach and transform it into a weapon. Her favorite weapon is her shoe because even adults are afraid to go near her when she does a fast draw for her sandal.

But those tough hands taught me to tie my shoes, pray, behave, respect other people and shovel the sidewalk for our elderly neighbors, whether we knew them or not.

My mama’s hands are now sick and damaged from all the chemicals she must use to clean the offices where she works. That’s why I help her clean our own home. I want her hands to rest. Her hands may be essential to the country for COVID-19, but they are also essential to me.

I want my mom’s hands to hold our diplomas, degrees, achievement awards, and her future grandchildren. Those hands made me what I am today. And they have endured a lot over the last 44 years of struggles — being a young mother, raising four children, and even crossing the desert so her children would not have to work on the cotton farms in Mexico like she did as a child.

Now it is time to use my hands to help unite the United States. I want my hands to protect my mom’s health, and the health of so many women cleaning up COVID-19 for the country.

I especially want to raise my hands for the thousands of undocumented women working, like my mother, who somehow are both essential labor for our country and called illegal and other names.

Together we will recover from COVID-19 — in part because of the hard working hands of women and men cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. THANK YOU!

Reydesel Salvidrez-Rodríguez is a Motus Theater UndocuAmerica Monologist. He was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, migrated to the U.S. with his mixed status family as a child and has been living in Denver, CO for the last 19 years. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Denver, where he studied Ethnic Studies. During his undergraduate years he spend most of his time advocating for education rights and inclusiveness of undocumented students on campus. He is currently serving as Vice-President For United Leaders in Higher Education(ULHE), which is committed to educate, unite and empower students, regardless of immigration status. Reydesel is the Property Manager for Designs By Sundown, where he has worked with his dad and his family for the last eight years.

This autobiographical story was written by Reydesel Salvidrez-Rodríguez in collaboration with Kirsten Wilson as part of Motus Theater’s UndocuAmerica Series: Stories From Our Undocumented Neighbors.

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