Original English Version (Spanish Translation Coming Soon)
Autor: Mariposa Monarca
In the world there are people who have the happiness or luck to be born in a family with money and privileges, but there are also people who are born in poor families and who have to work hard to survive. In many cases, families have to separate; mothers or fathers have to go out and look for sustenance for their children. Year after year, families embark on a journey to the United States with the hopes and faith that they will be able to earn money and support their families who stay in their country.
Mami says that my brothers and I are blessed to have a different life from theirs because neither of them could finish high school or even elementary school. When mom and dad tell us their stories and what their lives were like as young people, it gives me chills and sadness because they did not have the opportunity to finish primary school or have a career like us. Mami says that when she was ten years old, my grandparents took her out of school to work with them in the vegetable field and earn more money. My maternal grandparents had eight children, two girls and six boys; Mom was the third of the eight. At that time, for the babies that were born girls, the probability of studying or having an education was very low, and they would only learn how to take care of their husband and take care of the house or children they would have once they turned between fifteen or eighteen years old. That's why my grandparents said that the education of my mother or my aunt was not so important and that they should stay at home or work with them in the field. My Mami's dream was to have a degree in accounting, but when my grandfather took her out of school to work, she had to get rid of the idea that she would continue her studies. Mami says that she only learned to read, but not to write, and to this day her writing has not improved much. When she was thirteen years old, she met Dad, who was sixteen years old. Mami says she will not forget when she met dad. She says that one morning she dragged a donkey who carried two large containers of water on either side, it happened when the town was going through a water problem and was getting almost no rain. That morning she met my dad, who brought a donkey too. It was there that they fell in love.
Papa tells us that when he was a few months old, two men killed his father, leaving him alone with his four sisters and his mother, who was both mother and father at the same time. He has no memories of his father, only what Grandma has told him.
Papi had the chance to finish fifth grade, where he learned how to read and write. But before going to the sixth grade he had to leave the school because they had to move to the town where my mother lived. Once they arrived at their new home, Papa decided to help his mother bring money home and care for her four sisters. He took the role of being the man of the house and of the family; since his father was dead, he had to take care of his mother and sisters. Once Mom and Dad met and started a relationship of three years, the day came when Dad and Grandma went to my mom's house to ask for her hand so they could get married. The day came when they got married, and a few months later, my mother was pregnant with my sister. Mom says that the house where they lived was made of tree branches and that covered the top of the house, and that my sister had to wear the same dresses every day because there was no money to buy more cloth to make her a new one. The food they most often ate was tortilla with salt or salsa with butter. When the month of May or June arrived, they had to go to El Tamirano to work in the vegetable and grape fields to earn money. When my mom was nineteen years old, she was already pregnant again. She was expecting her second baby, so my father made a difficult decision to immigrate to El Otro Lado.
I was four years old when my father left. My father went to pursue a dream to build a house and save money for our education. Although he was a bricklayer and worked in the fields, he would never earn the money he needed to make his dream to build us a house, a reality. Like most people who immigrate to "El Otro Lado," my father left his home country with high expectations and hopes of what life in El Otro Lado would be like. He thought that the life in El Otro Lado would be easy, but once reality set in, he realized that dollars were not as easy to make as the stories that my uncles told made it seem. After being separated from my father, one morning he sent us a letter, in which he explained that my mom had to take the same journey to El Otro Lado too, hoping that between the two of them they would earn more money for our house, for our education, and for my abuela to be cured. Abuelita had cancer and many other diseases. That night, Mami spent the whole night thinking about the decision to leave us and go with Papa to El Otro Lado. The next day, my father made the decision to take Mami with him to El Otro Lado.
Mami nos dijo,“tienen que ser fuertes,” (you need to be strong), as she promised that once she got to El Otro Lado, she would work a lot, and that in a year she would be back with us. My sister, my brother, and I stayed with Abuelita. Two months after my mother and father left us, mama Isidra died. For my mother, it was difficult to overcome the death of her mother.
After the death of mi Abuela, my mom decided to stay in El Otro Lado for three years to save more money so that we would have a different life from theirs and from my grandparents; due to lack of resources and money they did not have the opportunities that now my sister, my brother, and I have. As a daughter, I had to be strong for three years without seeing my parents. That's why I promised my Abuelita that I would study hard to have a different life and a better education. Each story of my parents is an inspiration and motivation for me to be a better person every day. Thanks to them, my sisters, brother and I have a very different life because we have the opportunity to finish our studies and have a better life. Thanks to them, I was able to finish elementary school, high school, and now I'm in college studying social work at University of the District of Columbia (UDC). My parents have been a blessing in my life, and although they did not have the opportunity to study and have a career, I can do it because they are my example to follow every day, and I can strive to have a different life from theirs.