Torn Between Caring for an Ailing Mother and Completing College

 

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Photo courtesy of Christopher Morales

Christopher Morales, a twenty-year old engineering student at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico sits down in a small and intimate restaurant in San Juan. Quiet and reserved, he lowers his head as he reflects on how his life changed in the blink of an eye.

When Hurricane Maria hit, suddenly he was confronted with a difficult decision.

As an only child who doesn’t have a relationship with his father, he is one of the main care-givers for his mother, Carmen, who is fighting colon cancer. Without electricity, running water and cell phone service he felt that staying on the island was not an option for them.

In the wake of the storm, Morales frantically looked for information and was finally able to get a flight to Orlando, Florida, where his mother could get the medical treatment she needed.

In Orlando, his aunt, Ana, offered them housing and took take care of his mother. She soon adjusted to her new life and her condition was being treated. But he could not stay with her because very soon his classes would start again and he is close to finishing his studies.

It was difficult for him to leave but he’s committed to staying close to her whatever way he can.

“There is not a moment when I do not think about her.  All the time I write to her and tell her everything that is happening. When they are giving her treatment, I send her funny videos and we see each other on FaceTime. I’m always thinking about her,” he said with a smile.

Morales lives in an small apartment close to the university with a childhood friend. He juggles a few part-time jobs, fixing computers, working as a tutor, and from time to time as an Uber driver to make a little extra cash.

As he enters his last academic year, he’s thinking about whether he should look for a job in the United States and possibly expand his career opportunities.

His mom wants to stay in Florida, and he wants to have her close.

“No matter what I do, I will do it with my mother in mind, she has given everything to me and I want her to see me graduate, to be healthy and to move forward…my mother gives me the motivation to continue forward and prosper,” Morales said.

Desgarrado entre el cuidado de su madre enferma y sus estudios 

En un restaurante, pequeño e íntimo, perfecto para charlar, Christopher Morales, estudiante de 20 años de edad de Ingeniería en la Universidad Politécnica de Puerto Rico (UPPR), cuenta cómo su vida cambió en un abrir y cerrar de ojos.

Después de que el huracán María impactará la Isla, se vio enfrentado con una decisión díficil. 

Morales es hijo único y su madre, Carmen, sufre de cáncer de colon. Al no tener relación con su padre, él es el único a cargo de su madre. En octubre, al ver la salud de su madre empeorar estando sin energía eléctrica ni agua corriente, decidió llevársela a Florida.

“Busqué información y pude conseguir un vuelo hacia Orlando, Florida, donde mi madre obtuvo servicio médico”, dijo Morales, bajando la cabeza.

En Orlando, su tía, Ana, les ofreció techo y cuidó de su madre. Carmen se adaptó rápido a su nueva vida y su condición estaba siendo atendida. Pero él podría quedarse con ella. Muy pronto comenzarían sus clases y se encontraba cerca para terminar sus estudios. 

Para él fue díficil dejar a su madre, pero está en constante contacto con ella desde Puerto Rico.

“Mi madre me da la motivación para seguir hacia delante y prosperar”, dijo Morales con voz ronca. “No hay momento en el que no piense en ella. Todo el tiempo le escribo y le cuento todo lo que está sucediendo. Cuando le están dando su tratamiento, le mando videos graciosos y nos vemos por FaceTime”.

Morales vive en un pequeño despartamento cerca de su universidad con un amigo de infancia. Hace malabarismos entre un par de trabajos temporales, arreglando computadores, trabajando como tutor, y a veces como conductor de Uber para hacer algo de dinero extra.

Al emepezar su último año académico, Morales piensa en buscar un trabajo en Estados Unidos y en expandir su carrera. Su madre quiere quedarse en Florida, y el quiere tenerla cerca. 

“No importa lo que haga, lo haré con mi madre en mente. Ella lo ha dado todo por mí y yo quiero que ella me vea graduándome, que esté saludable y echar hacia delante”, dijo Morales.

Written by Barbara Beccerra Marcano.

This story was part of a collaboration between Feet in 2 Worlds and journalism students at  Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico 

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, an anonymous donor and readers like you.

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