The idea of family is something I’ve struggled with a lot in my life. The traditional definition obviously doesn’t work fro me, because let’s be honest, who would want to claim the childhood I had? But, while I’m a huge proponent of the idea that we can choose our family, that still leaves the struggle of parents, because we can’t choose our parents. But it doesn’t hurt to have substitutes.
I’ve been lucky enough to have several adult figures during my childhood that helped fill the void of loving and supportive parents at different stages. Whether it was my grandmother while I was growing up, or even now my aunt Lara, who is the kind of mother anyone would be lucky to have. One that has stuck with me for a long time is woman simply known as Mama Mona.
Mona is my best friend, and brother, Mark’s mom. I first met Mona Mona way back when Mark and I became friends at the end of high school. Mona was always one of the cool parents. She always looked out for all “her boys,” which were Mark and his biological brother Andy, as well as the friends; around 8 – 10 of us at any given time.
She has always been taking care of us for as long as I can remember. I even became a permanent resident on their couch for about 6 months after high school. Mona fed me, took care of me, and even schlepped me around. I could go on and on about how Mona has been more of a mom to me than my actual mom, and yes, I admire her greatly for that, but there’s another quality about Mona I admire even more, and that’s that she never gave up on her dreams, that I admire more.
I wrote this story a long time ago another blog, but since none of you read that blog…in fact, no one read that blog; I using it again…get over it.
Mona frequents Disneyland a lot….no seriously, a lot. She always has, ever since I have known her. Mona is the true antithesis of those who say, “No one gets to do what they love for a living”, because Mona does.
Mona has worked for Disney off and on for over 20 years. She started by working at various Disney stores in the San Diego area part time; not because she needed the job or the money, but because she truly loved Disney, and wanted to be there.
As Disney stores began to be phased out around San Diego in the late 90’s, Mona hopped from store to store. After several years of this, and finally being in a situation in life where she found herself with the freedom to make bold choices, Mona finally decided it was time to go work at the actual park. The Mecca of Happiness, Disneyland. And that is where she has been ever since.
Mona loves what she does, and is so excited to wake up every morning to go into work. How many of us can truly say that? In addition to being able to work at her dream job every day, she get to go into the park whenever she wants for free, sign in friends and loved ones to enjoy the park too, AND…she also met her current husband…the love of her life, at the one place that makes her the most happy. How’s that for a love story?!?
I will always love Mona for everything she has done for me. She’s treated me like a son, she treats my kids like their her own flesh and blood grand kids, but I admire her for her spirit; her determination to never give up on her dreams.
The world can be a very cynical place; I should know, it’s kind of where I live most the time. But one thing I am never cynical about is the idea that you can actually achieve your dream…as long as you never stop believing. Mona showed me that, and that’s why I admire her.
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