Hell, heaven ….. what’s next?

Posted: July 28, 2012 in Mexico
Tags: , , ,

I think it’s important to note certain variables that play a role in my cousins’ upbringing.  All my cousins had extended family to help out,  very self-sacrificing parents, a college education and great male role models.  As I said, my Tio Miguel worked for everything he had.  He was a self-made man who loved his wife.

These, I think, are the elements that were sorely lacking in East L.A.  Tio Miguel and Tia Maria Luisa weren’t raising Vatos.  They were raising the kind of men Mexico needed.  My Tio Miguel never allowed himself or his sons to forget about their responsiblity to society.

My family didn’t dream of crossing the border via coyote in the dead of night.  They flew first class and had passports.  They were tourists with every intention of returning to their huge house and satellite TV.  At the same time, they never forgot their own upbringings.

Often times, I would ask my mother why she never raised us in Mexico after my father left.  Her answer seemed like a cop-out . She said it was because my disabled sister, Carmen, would have no chance of a real life in Mexico.  Mexico didn’t have any independent living programs for the blind.

I think it was a lack of independent living for anyone in Mexico, that kept her away.  In their lies the rub! My aunts, uncles, cousins never, ever lived alone.

My mother wanted her freedom, period!  She wanted to go to sleep with dishes in the sink and no one to nag her about it.  She wanted to cut her hair short, wear pants (didn’t own pants til after the divorce), eat too much and laugh way too loud.

I, on the other hand, loved how my aunts, uncles and cousins lived.  They were selfless, happy, lacked for nothing and family oriented.  I wanted to be a Mexicana.  I wanted to be their kind of Mexicana.

Sadly, I didn’t qualify.  Like the majority of Mexico, my family was Catholic.  I was not Catholic.  My mother converted to the United Methodist Church. By association, Maria’s kids converted too.

Upon hearing this revelation, my abuelita immediately sought council from her priest. Since I had been baptized a Catholic, all I had to do my First Communion.  This of course meant, I had to study, God help me, in Latin!

It bored me to tears. I was a teenager! And I argued with my abuelita about how I was still a Christian.  Her response was, only Catholics lived in her house.

The next part of this story is terrible.  I screamed, yelled and cried .  I could feel myself turning into nothing.  I had one thought. Curse my abuelita with my rotting corpse.

I ingested every pill I could find in the medicine cabinet.  Hugo found me, hugged me and asked if I was alright.  I confessed what I had done.

After having my stomach pumped, Hugo asked why I did it.  I couldn’t tell him about my life in Pasadena or what my abuelita’s threat meant to me.

He told me that everything was going to be okay.  The family had to decide what to do with me.  After calling my mother, it was decided that I was live with Tia Ana and the girls.

My Tia Ana was good for me.  I never misbehaved, was always happy, helpful and thankful for a safe, loving home. I went on trips to the mountains of Durango with Tia Maria Luisa, Tio Miguel and their extended family.  Lerdo, the ice cream capital of Mexico, was also a frequent destination.  I was so happy. Then my happiness ends, again.

My mother called and begged me to come home.  She promised things would be different.  Hearing her sobbing over the phone was enough to make me want to come back. So, at the age of 15, I went back home to Pasadena.  I was thinner, taller, spoke perfect Spanish and was completely unsure of myself.


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