I wrote this two years ago, on the day my mother died.

My Mom died today, as a happy and fulfilled mother. I’d like to tell you why.

One of my distinct memories from my early childhood is when my Mom went to see a fortune-teller, taking me and my brother along with her. We were probably 8 and 5 years old, respectively. Our Mom held our hands tightly as we went entered the fortune-tellers’ small shop. She wanted to know whether either of us would get a chance to work and live abroad. It seemed important to her that we have that opportunity, even though it was something that my parents had never dreamed of doing for themselves.

At that time, we’d just returned from Ithaca, New York, where we’d lived for 2 years while my Dad studied for his Ph.D. at Cornell University. So while it had only been temporary, my Mom had a good idea of the opportunities that lay outside the Philippines. I vividly remember my Mom’s big smile when the fortune-teller said yes, that we would both leave the country and pursue opportunities overseas.

Fast forward to the present, I’ve now lived and worked abroad for over 20 years, spending 10 years in the UK before moving to the US with my career. I have traveled to more than 40 countries and am still counting. My own dream is to see the world, which is a super-sized version of my Mom’s dream for me.

As for my brother Sherwin, he has worked and lived in Thailand for the last 7 years and has recently moved to Japan with his career. My Mom was very proud because we both fulfilled the dreams that she’d long held for us.

My brother and I gave her more. As we traveled the world, we often took our parents with us. By fulfilling her dream for us to live and work outside the Philippines, she was able to experience other parts of the world; Thailand, Hong Kong, United States, UK, Italy, Greece and Turkey. It made her happy.

We loved her, so we wanted her to experience the same dream she had for us. The US gave me a green card and when I became a US citizen 5 years later, I wanted the same for my parents. They each were granted a green card just before she passed away, and even while she was ill, she was able to come to the US twice and stay with us, enjoying her own American Dream.