I want to thank God infinitely for the life of my mother, the woman who gave me life. The person that I love and most admire in this life, even above my own children, who are my reason for living; my three princesses, my prince charming, and the love of my life, my husband.
I hope I’m not offending anyone with what I’m narrating about my life.
I am going to share a little bit about my story, but I would like to reserve my name. I did this drawing that you are looking at, what I think of when I am looking at it, takes me back to 24 years ago. This is the reason why I am here in the United States. That is why I wanted to share a little bit of this.
This is my family. There are nine siblings, but three of those siblings, the tallest ones got married really fast and left home. My little brother, the taller one, is two years older than me, then there’s me and the other, a boy; there were six of us kids at home.
“I know that we shouldn’t talk about people when they’re not with us anymore, but sometimes it’s a little bit hard because there are questions that remain unanswered.”
Here is my dad. Unfortunately, he is not here any longer; he passed away. It was difficult to see how much my mother suffered from domestic violence at the hand of my father. As you can see in this drawing, it was a beautiful place—full of sunlight, full of bright sunlight. Around my family there was a lot of color, but not inside my house. It was like how you see this little house, I remember it as a very dark house, I believe. I don’t remember its color.
My father died in 1991. My mother became really ill. She, I don’t know if out of habit or whatever, became really ill after the death of my father. She was really affected. I believe, but I don’t know if, it was because of what she lived through alongside him, or I haven’t understood until now. I am still asking myself but I can’t find any answers. Then we had to leave Tijuana. I was around 15 years old.
At the young age of ten, twelve years old, I tried to protect my mother and my little brothers because the person we thought was going to protect us… I don’t know, I can’t judge because I don’t know what he had to go through in his life. Maybe he was just sadly repeating what he’d lived. I don’t know. I’m not judging my father because maybe that’s the information he had. Then we had to leave Tijuana. Sometimes, I say maybe from a place we weren’t supposed to leave, and sometimes I say God does things for a reason.
My father passed in ‘91, end of 1991. We were in Tijuana for one more year and had to come here because there were six of us kids. I was 15 years old; we were six little kids without a father and a sick mother. My mother was really ill, sadly. So then we had to come to California. My brothers, the older ones supported us. One of my sisters took responsibility for my mother’s care. She supported her a lot and my other sister supported us in the sense that we could stay with her for the first three months. My brother was the one who gave her money so she could take care of us.
At the age of fifteen and a half, I started to work in the fields. I was a child. What I remember could have been my quinceañera party was that I had to be working in the fields. I worked nine years in the fields.
If someone were to ask me, “How it is that the fruit is grown, so beautifully, that are strawberries?” What it is to pick out the seedling, clean it up, and choose good seedlings. How it is to plant seedlings and how to take care of the plant so that those strawberries grow. How to pick strawberries: what it is to work in the cannery; make juice; for shampoo, for everything. To do everything, I’ve done every kind of work there is to be had with strawberries. I’ve worked picking cucumbers, picking squash, everything. Nine years of my life in the fields.
I’ve heard it said many times that when one experiences domestic violence; one tends to repeat the same pattern, sadly. Thanks, I thank God because I believe in God. I let God do what was best for me, and not repeat what I suffered as a child. And, thank God, I married a man, not a perfect man, because I don’t think there is a perfect human being, but a “man”. He is noble. I say he has “heart”, good feelings and, thank God, since the beginning up to now.
Storyteller Cielo is a community organizer and Oaxaqueña.