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A Difficult Choice Brings Unexpected Consequences 

I believe that one of the most fundamental principles we can learn in this life is embedded in the tenet: “We are free to choose, and willingly accept responsibility for our choices.”

Agency is the ability and privilege to choose and to act for ourselves. Even though we are free to choose, we are not free to choose the consequences of our choices; meaning, if you pick up one end of stick, you also pick up the other; and when you choose the first step on a path, you also choose its final destination. 

Some choices have greater consequences than others; this was the case in one of the most difficult choices I had to make few years ago with great and unexpected consequences.

The exciting holiday season was fast approaching, and adding to the busiest time of the year, we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of three more grandchildren by year’s end. One evening, I received an unexpected phone call from my cousin: “Come to Bolivia immediately; your mother is at the hospital and she is not doing well!” I was stunned. Although it was a seemingly easy choice to make, the consequences could open old wounds that my sister and I had been striving to heal for many years …

My parents divorced when my sister and I were toddlers and my father moved to Brazil. About five years later, my mother took us to Brazil ​and after a couple of months decided to pursue her personal dreams, leaving ​us behind with our father–two little girls trying to understand the painful implied message: “You are not important. You are not of value.”

Despite the fact that we faced challenges adapting to life without mom, new culture, customs, and food, we had a good father and neighbors who lovingly welcomed and helped us.

Due to the distance, cost of travel, and the fact that my mother remarried, her visits became increasingly rare. Our memories with her faded and the bond between us became weaker. Sad to say that she had more in common with our extended family and friends than with her own daughters.

At the same time, our lives were also changing; we adopted a new religion, my sister and I got married, and we emigrated to the USA with our young families.

So after the shock of the news that holiday season, we decided to leave our family and work behind. We packed our suitcases and left the next day bound for a country that had become extraneous to us. We arrived and went straight to the hospital where we found Mother frail and vulnerable.

The medical facilities were unreliable, and her health was deteriorating rapidly. We decided that it would be better to take care of her at her home. My sister and I shared the responsibilities and hired two nurses and one housekeeper. She improved miraculously and started talking and enjoying visitors again.  Even though we never worked so hard physically and mentally (cleaning, cooking, taking care, washing, ironing, and feeding the constant visitors), at the end of the day we were eager to sit next to her bed and chat. We learned about her culture, her life and the choices she had made and how difficult the consequences were–not only to us, but to her as well. We talked, laughed and wept together.

It was a period of intense emotional and spiritual growth. Serving Mother with my dear sister gave us the unique opportunity to know who she really was; to forgive and seek forgiveness, and to love her unconditionally.

Elaine Cannon said: “Accountability is the natural product of agency. It is the basis of our own lives.” Accountability to serve our mother was the basis for unexpected blessings as we witnessed the Lord’s power helping us tear down the barriers created during her years of absence and strengthening our eternal family ties.