Prepedigma “Cora” McDonnell’s Story

Born December 5, 1941, Bauang, La Union, Philippines
Arrived July 5, 1985, Seattle, Washington
Receptionist, NAPCA, Seattle

coraI had to make a big choice – either to further my career or to raise my son. So I just got jobs like being a clerk at Airborne Express, staying at jobs that are easy. And so when I got home, I could take care of him. I stayed with Airborne for 14 years, and I have a bachelor’s degree. I could have applied for more demanding jobs, but my priority was my son. I was getting a salary that could support both of us. And we’re staying with my parents so I don’t have to pay a lot of money. I thought if I decided to focus on my career, my son would suffer. But I decided to take care of him, to raise him, and I’m thankful for that because he never gave me a problem.

There was one time I remember he said, “Thank you, Mom. Because when you were raising me during those difficult times as a teenager, you were not holding me too much.” How would you say – when you have a son, when you are holding an egg, you don’t want that egg to break – because sometimes you have to hold it a little bit tight, but not too tight so it will not break. He said, “Thank you for not being too tight on me, but you are not too loose on me, either. Thank you for doing that.” I was so happy. I said, “Thank you. Thank you for telling me that.”

Well, after all the sacrifices that I did, it’s kind of fulfilling for me because even if my career, it’s not that great, I have raised a son that is going to have a future not having to deal with drugs and some of that. A challenging time is when he was 13. He was talking to me – he told me this, “I know you’re trying to be both a mother and a father to me. But there are things, Mom, that as a man, I cannot talk to you about.”

“Why?” I said. “You could tell me. I could tell you things.”

“No.”

And that was a challenge to me because I’m trying to dig more on that. I cannot advise him on some issues like men issues, for instance. Up to now, that’s still a challenge for me. There are things that I cannot tell him. I don’t know how. I only know the feeling as a woman, not as a man. It’s hard to advise him on those, and so I say, “Oh, my God. What do I tell him?”

I am no longer making a choice between my son and my career. He’s 23. With my son right now at his age and the kind of person that I raised him to be, I don’t have to hold back for myself anymore. Maybe I can have a more challenging job. NAPCA is evolving – and who knows, one of these days, they might say, “Oh, Cora! Front office manager or a supervisor.” Actually, at my age, I want to make more money for that. And who knows what the future can bring? That’s why I like to go to seminars. I just want to learn. That’s what I like right now. That is my goal for NAPCA. I hope I can have a more challenging job.

This story originally appeared in NAPCA’s Senior Voices publication.