My birth wasn’t planned. It wasn’t a happy occasion at first. At 40, my mother became very weak, hardly able to move. The doctors she visited out of town all recommended an immediate abortion, persuading her to listen for her own sake.
She didn’t listen though. She kept going. Found a man who worked at the clinic and carried out the pregnancy. I was born on September 8th 1992 at 7:14 Tuesday evening. It had rained that day, my uncles and aunts were with us. Cousins, tons of them were lined up along the halls. Dark brown hair, dark brown eyes and a tendency to scratch at my face. They put mittens on each hand, a blue hat over my head and that’s all I can recall from family conversations and pictures.
I grew up the youngest in our home. My oldest brother Gilbert was around long enough to take care of me while our other siblings finished school. My parents worked day and night. He eventually left to the military, and I was handed down to the next brother, Jerry.
Jerry had this humor to him that was contagious. I always tell the story of how he left me in the house while he went outside to get something. I panicked and finally opened the door to the front of the house. He was right there, waiting to see my reaction. I was pretty pissed for a toddler.
Then came Bobby. I’ll always remember him for having this huge similarity to our mother. He had a talent for taking care of kids. He left to San Antonio right before I began attending a day care. After him came Denise, my only sister. Her and I used to always butt heads. We had that relationship where I see her do something and I wanted to do the same thing. She was very patient.
I didn’t have much friends growing up. Some of the kids from school would occasionally come by the house to hang out, but it was pretty rare. It affected my attachment to my parents. I would always cling to them when strangers came to visit. I only talked to answer, and when I finally felt comfortable enough, I would talk too much. The emotions were on a tilting table. They would carry quickly to one side, pushed down by force, and then finally let go as the table swings to the other end.
When my first niece was born, I was ecstatic. I wanted to take care of her and just be around to look after her. Something inside me click. I felt at peace, like I could finally tolerate other things.
I began to understand after being around nieces, nephews, younger cousins, that I wanted to adjust to their environment. I wanted to be like a big brother, finally able to return what my brothers and sister did for me.
I became the son who obsessed over my parent’s health. I became the person that cried himself to sleep thinking it was unfair that my mother was always sick, why she hasn’t gotten any better. I would cry often. That stinging push to your gut while the air left your body. I would feel emptiness, worthless, not able to live up to expectations.
One day my mother collapsed by the kitchen at night. I woke up and heard her groaning. I was only 12 or 13. I called out to her and she barely responded.
I said “Mom. Mom talk to me. Talk to me Mom. Can you hear me?”
I could feel her hand move while I held it, and without thinking I raised her to her feet and placed her on her bed. She was bruised all over, but I finally went to sleep after she did.
After that night, my grandmother would always remind me. To this day she reminds me. Telling me that I’m my mother’s guardian angel sent down to take care of her.
It made me feel happy hearing that, but as I grew up I started to realize that I wasn’t a guardian angel. I wasn’t a blessing. I was just a boy looking after his mother when no one else was around to help.
Family comes the minute you let out your first breath. It’s that gift that’s always been there, waiting for you. It’s the gift that many hope they will one day be able to provide on their own.
I hear all of these people saying things like religion comes first, that what we do to provide for our family is mandatory before the kids, before the wife or husband.
Frankly I think that’s a load of bull.
As far as religion goes, believe what you want. I highly recommend you find a higher source to turn to. I really do. Do so. But what kind of God tells those who live under them that they come before their family? My family by majority are Catholic, and sure, they can believe that Jesus Christ is their Father. I have no problem with that. I only have a problem with the detachment over responsibility with you as a human being and the people that have helped bring you into this world. Those that share the same blood, culture, lifestyles, problems, tragedies, joys and memories. They are your family. They have been somewhere on the world for many many years.
I can only keep on holding to the hope that one day more young people like myself will look back at their parents, great-grandparents and so on and be like “I see them in me.”
“I want to make them proud and learn about their history, learn the language they were taught, learn the skills that they learned or even attempted.” Chances are you won’t be able to do everything they did, and that’s perfectly normal. No one is an exact replica. You are literally fragments of a whole world of people. It’s not difficult to understand. Determine their culture, where they came from. Build from it. Realize that where they lived affected who they were and what they did impacted not only the history of the family but the world in their own way.
I learned about my grandmother’s great grandmother today from my mother’s cousin in New Mexico. Her name was Julia Mendoza-Sigala who migrated to the United States from the Satevo Pueblo in Chihuahua, Mexico. She was known to be very close to her children and parents. Friendly and head strong. She was known as a woman who did not sit on a chair offered to her. Instead she sat on the floor. Instead of sitting at a table, she would make her own food on a fire outside. She spoke in a language other than what she was told to speak. I learned that her parents were indigenous people. People who I didn’t have to live with to understand the morals that they passed onto their daughter.
Unfortunately, that culture wasn’t kept. Religion ultimately entered their lives and told them that there was only one way to follow life. That caused my mother, my grandmother to not know about that side of the family. It was a secret. You don’t talk about the indians like you’re related to one.
I don’t want that. I don’t want to be reminded of the erasing of that woman’s beliefs given to her at birth by her parents. I will never be able to meet her, but I can always represent her as her 3rd generation grand-son. We are tied to each other through the pride we have to never let go of our family.
Never let go of yours.
Please. Do it for yourself. Do it for your cousins, nieces and nephews. Your children. Don’t forget what brought you here, and don’t forget the family that is here with you to this day.