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Life Is Motion

Nelly Alarma-Vidondo, 64.


I am the daughter of Spanish political immigrants, born in Didube, Tbilisi. I graduated from a Russian school during the Soviet Union. When I was 3 years old, my father left us, and I grew up alone with my mother. We had a very friendly relationship. When I was 13, she fell ill, and we spent the next 5 years in hospitals before she passed away.


I had no relatives in Georgia.


At the age of 17, I met my future husband in my yard. He kidnapped me as it was a common practice back then. We had four children together, two girls, and two boys. My children brought light into my life, and they meant everything to me. I became fully immersed in their lives, often forgetting about myself.


Now, I am blessed with nine grandchildren.


There were both challenges and joyful moments along the way.


I worked as an art teacher in a school for some time. However, when all my children fell ill with hepatitis simultaneously, I had no choice but to leave my job. Even my husband was emotional when he saw how many children came to beg me not to leave the school.


I also worked as a nanny, forming special bonds with the babies who enjoyed my energy and aura.


My husband had a difficult personality, and there were cases of domestic violence in our family. Despite the hardships, I endured everything for the sake of my children. He left us 22 years ago, leaving me penniless and initially scared to be alone with four children. I sold everything in our home, be it gold or pottery. However, we gradually found our independence, started working, and supported each other.


Motherhood was physically exhausting, but I cherished every moment. I was a dedicated and sometimes "crazy" mother. Looking back, I wonder if I needed to work so tirelessly. Late nights were spent ironing and washing after the children went to bed. Their presence and the noise they made never bothered me; I kept them close at all times. We functioned as a united team, doing everything together in a friendly and cohesive manner. In the 90s, with no electricity or gas, we relied on a wood stove. My oldest son entertained us with his humor, while the rest of us engaged in needlework, knitting, and embroidery. I often find myself nostalgic for those simpler times.


One of my top priorities was to provide warmth and love to my children. When they were with me, I felt a deep sense of responsibility for nurturing them. I approached our relationship as equals, fostering a bond where they felt comfortable opening up to me. We became each other's confidants, supporting each other through the challenging years. I made it a point to welcome their friends into our home, getting to know them and observing their interactions. Despite feeling exhausted at times, I found joy in cooking and creating a welcoming environment for everyone.


I cherished the friendship I shared with my mother, often missing her while at school. After finishing my lessons, I would eagerly visit her at work, enjoying our outings to the cinema and cafes as we explored new experiences together.


Five years ago, I faced a diagnosis of third-stage cancer, undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The onset of the pandemic added further challenges to my journey.


When a new store opened in my neighborhood, I eagerly took on a job there. Interacting with customers provided a welcomed distraction. Despite feeling fatigued, the warmth and kindness from others boosted my self-confidence. Their compliments reassured me of my worth, and having my own income brought a sense of independence. While my personal struggles may not be of interest to those I encounter at work, I find fulfillment in listening to and caring for them. When they express gratitude and admiration, it fills my heart with joy.


I didn't truly discover myself until receiving the cancer diagnosis and navigating through the challenges that followed. For so long, I lived solely for others - my mother, my husband, and my children. I focused on their happiness, forgetting my own desires. However, during treatment, I realized the importance of living my own life and embracing who I am. Perhaps this difficult journey was a reminder from a higher power to prioritize self-care.


In recent years, I've received more recognition than ever before. Even during hospital visits for treatments, I was often mistaken for a caregiver rather than the patient. The nurses' kind words and gestures of support helped me through the toughest times, and their care was truly heartwarming.


Amidst the pandemic, I found solace in knitting and used my talent to create blankets for doctors. The joy it brought them was priceless, and crafting became a way to combat isolation. Participating in a holiday crafts exhibition allowed me to showcase my creativity, and my colleagues appreciated my handmade work.


While I've always been busy, my perspective on life has shifted. I now cherish the simple moments, savoring the freedom of not being tied to obligations. Spending time with my children and grandchildren fills me with a renewed energy and a deep sense of gratitude. Embracing this newfound zest for life, I am grateful for the unwavering support of my loved ones and the joy they bring into my life.


My son is my best friend. He brings out the best in me, he changed my life in many ways. He is my image maker, and we go shopping together. He encourages me to make free choices regardless of the age. My life-choices were guided by stereotypes and biases since childhood and now I’m slowly getting rid of them. 


We’re meeting today. We’ll go to cafes, and restaurants, and have deep conversations about life. We tell each other everything and we solve problems together. Being close to him comforts me. I'm happy I have him in my life.


When I was diagnosed with cancer, he took care of everything, from paychecks to entertainment. He takes care of his siblings and their children too. They respond with great respect and love. Thanks to Guram, today, I am stronger than ever. On the 4th of January, regardless of the fatigue I was experiencing as a result of chemo infusion, he still took me out shopping. He made me feel exactly the same way as we remember Julia Roberts in the famous shopping scene in “Pretty Woman.” Sadness disappeared and then we sat down at the restaurant for some sweet chat.


There is a big difference between the mothers of my generation and the modern moms. More and more women refuse to keep their marriage at all costs. They are bolder and take risks. Maybe it's better. People's opinions meant so much to me, it was so important what others would say or think about my actions. We had to be patient and always compromise. We lived in fear, with no freedom of choice and expression. I was afraid of everything and I was depressed because of it. Motherhood has always been challenging across the geographies and generations. But modern mothers are more fearless, and I like it.


Be bold and make courageous decisions. Believe in yourself. Don't think that someone will come and help you. No, you have to overcome the difficulties yourself. This is how you become stronger. Believe that you can do anything. A human can do everything. The weaker you are more troubles and trials you’re getting in life. You may not know where your strength is hidden, but you will someday find yourself in a situation where you feel how much you’re capable of overcoming and achieving.


I felt that life is only experienced in motion. I don't get lazy anymore, I spend every day energetically.


I believe in God. Whatever trouble came my way, it was from him, I know that. I understood his message and I prove it by the actions that I take every day.


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