Journey of Hope - First Two Pages

I do not know exactly how old I was when I started to admire America, but I think I was quite young because my memory of this feeling is more foggy and distant than any other. Even at that young age, I knew that America was a place where dreams could come true and once you made it there, you would never want to leave.

I guess I knew this because my oldest sister, Teresa, (who was old enough to be my mother) was already working in America – or El Norte (The North) as we usually called it. She headed there after her husband left her and their three kids. She was working as a maid and nanny and would always send money for her children.

Her kids lived in our house and she actually sent more than money.  She sent beautiful clothes, made from all kinds of soft wonderful materials – unlike our regular clothes which, for the girls, consisted of stiff cotton dresses made by our neighbor. She also sent white, creamy, fragrant soaps that were easy to hold and much different than the big, brown, non-fragrant bars of soap the whole family normally shared. But what I loved the most were the pictures she sent – bright, colorful pictures of her and the children she cared for. These pictures showed their beautiful pool, with water that looked so clean and blue that I could not believe my eyes. The pictures also showed lush green gardens and the inside of the family’s house, which to me was even nicer than the houses shown on Mexican soap operas. 

My two oldest brothers, Jose and Alfonso, (who were also old enough to be my parents) were living in America as well. They were working as gardeners and whenever my oldest brother, Jose, was deported back to Mexico, he would immediately try to get back to the United States. He hated returning to our house – a crowded mud-brick house with dirt floors and no bathroom.

Unlike America, Mexico around the late sixties was a very bad place to live, especially for children. There were so many of us. My mother had six sons and four daughters – not including the ones that had died as babies. Most women my mother’s age had eight, nine, ten kids, often giving birth to babies around the same time as did their oldest daughters as was the case in our family.

With so many children in our town, it was very difficult for most kids to obtain the love, respect, and attention that they needed. If you had parents that lived in America sending you money, you got respect. If you were pretty, you got love. If you were a male, you got attention. I had none of the things that seemed to make a kid special.

Just like our town, our house at this time was full of kids – six of my mom’s own kids, my oldest sister’s three kids (whom I called my cousins because the girls were older than me and the boy was only a year younger) and two babies on the way. One of the babies on the way belonged to my second oldest brother Alfonso. His pregnant wife was living with us and she occupied the only bedroom that did not have a dirt.......

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