My Mother’s Knees 3

My grandparents, aunt and mother worked the fields up and down California in the 20’s, 30’s and early 40’s. After viewing the movie Adios Amor, listening to Maria Moreno’s story and the harsh poverty they endured it brought to mind old stories, some forgotten, some revived by Maria’s narrative. This time I thought about my mother’s knees.

“Although she had nice legs, her knees were bent together in an odd position at the center. She always preferred to keep them covered.”

When I reached adolescence, I finally asked her why her knees turned inward. She was knock-kneed. She said it was due to Rickets. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must have been to endure such poverty and not have enough money to buy milk? Although it wasn’t obvious to me at my young age, I later realized that somewhere near the beginning of her life Mom didn’t get a sufficient amount of calcium or good nutrition in her diet. It just makes me pause and admire my family’s strength and resilience during those difficult times. It’s good to remember to be humble, aware of another’s quiet suffering and to be grateful every day.

Storyteller Ruth writes, “I’m the daughter of a migrant mother who moved away from work in the fields in her late teens, not too long before she eventually married my father and had 3 children of her own. My mother passed away in 1998. I am now retired. I’ve done a variety of things in my life and spent 25 years of my work life as an academic counselor, advisor and teacher at the local state university. I’m a graduate of UC Berkeley and Harvard University. I always loved going to school and doing homework LOL”


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3 thoughts on “My Mother’s Knees

  • Angie K.

    A powerful and significant memory. When our parents love reveals itself through all their labor, we can then be humbled in admiration.
    I too am the daughter of immigrants and as such, I can relate – and when asked, I proudly share my meager beginnings. And No I will never be embarrassed by the circumstances and the condition I was born In the beginning, life chooses and places us – not the other way around.

  • Janie Salazar

    Where did you farm work; were you at any point embarrassed to tell that story; were you ashamed of that part of your life?

    • Ruth Saludes

      Hello Janie,
      My grandmother, mother, and aunt worked in the fields all their young lives, everywhere in the Central San Joaquin Valley from San Jose, CA to Fresno, CA. My mother escaped work in the field in her teenage years when she became a store clerk. I have a cute picture of her clerking at a grocery store in Fresno, wearing an apron and standing in front of rows of Campbell soup cans. The children of parents (my grand parents) who survived the great depression were truly the seeds of change in California. I was very privileged to have been able to go to school and graduate with degrees from the best universities. I am so grateful to my parents for all their love and hard work. It’s true that no one really accomplishes anything in their lifetime without the help of those who came before us. Today, even in my late years, I am still working. I am now the interim Coordinator of Arte Americas, the largest Latino Art Gallery between S.F and L.A. My family roots are very deep in this Central San Joaquin Valley.
      I’ve never felt embarrassed about any part of my life’s story. or my family’s, but it took me a long time to truly understand and acknowledge the beauty and strength found there in. Warmest wishes to you, Ruth