A SAD MOTHER'S DAY
By LARA PICKFORD-GORDON Sunday, May 12 2013
Mother’s Day is a time to recognise and show appreciation for the women who have nurtured, loved and contributed to who we are but for 48-year-old Joan Pereira Lange it is a sad day.
She was a child, seven years old, when her mother, born Leontine “Gloria” Mendoza, disappeared from her life.
Pereira Lange’s memories of her mother are few. “All I can remember was her complexion and hair, I can’t remember her features at all. She used to wear her hair long down to her back,” she said in an interview with Sunday Newsday.
Her mother was born in Caura on April 19, 1929. She married Miguel Pereira on March 25, 1951 and they lived at Morne La Croix, Blanchisseuse. Pereira Lange was Leontine’s tenth child out of 13 children.
As a child, Pereira Lange was sent to live with her mother’s first cousin in Guaico but she does not know the circumstances which led to this. She remembers that her mother would visit “once in a while”, and that she then began bringing a baby with her.
“She told me that was my sister and her name was Bernadette,” said Pereira Lange. At other times her mother would be accompanied by other children whom Pereira Lange learnt were her brothers.
The visits stopped when she was seven years old.
“I used to cry a lot. Then I started hearing she went missing,” she said,
Pereira Lange said her grandfather, Rosendo Abraham, of Damarie Hill, Guaico went to the Sangre Grande Police Station to make reports about his missing daughter.
“I heard him say one day they ran him out the station. Like everyone gave up right there,” she said, believing that there has never been a proper search for her mother by the police.
Pereira Lange said she stopped thinking of her mother in her teen years but when she began having children of her own in the 1980s, her thoughts returned to her mother.
In 1998, she became friends with Jennifer Attong. Attong found Pereira Lange’s story interesting and encouraged her to go to the newspapers to get help in finding her mother. Pereira Lange also tried asking people in Lopinot whether they knew her mother, since she knew from childhood that she had started a family with Vernon Bethelmy, who was Bernadette’s father.
“I could never get a good answer,” she said of those attempts. Pereira Lange started thinking that her mother was dead. She decided to find her sister Bernadette by asking old women in Lopinot if they knew of her. She discovered her sister had moved away from the area. With Attong’s help, however, she was able to locate Bernadette. Last October, she met with Bernadette, 41 years after she first saw her in her mother’s arms in Guaico. From Bernadete, Pereira Lange found out her mother was Catholic and carried another surname, but Bernadette had no memory of their mother.
“I told her (Bernadette) I was going to look for my mother and if she did not want to be involved I would understand. She said she would assist in whatever way she could,” Pereira Lange said.
The quest to find her missing mother resumed with checks at churches and villages.
What has kept her pursuing what seems to be a lost cause? “The fact of wanting to know who my mother is, where she is. Even if she is deceased I want to know what happened all these years, what went wrong,” she said.
Today, Mother’s Day, 2013, Pereira Lange and her sister Bernadette have a message for their mother:
“We love you mom. Being adults now we could only vaguely imagine how painful and extremely difficult your life was in the late 1940s and having Cynthia (another sister) at 17 years old and successive children one year apart. But we truly miss you and we desperately want to be reconnected with you.”
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Leontine Pereira is asked to call 478-0884 or 304-0054.