Stories From El Salvador: Mothers

Jan 3, 2019
8:17 am
Originally published at Stories From El Salvador

Photo of San Salvador by José Alejandro Álvarez Ramírez (LINK)

My mother became a wife at the age of 14 years old. She still played with dolls as she caressed her growing belly. I know this through what my grandmother told me, mama Anita. My father was 22 years old and offered to take care of my mother as if she was a queen. In her hometown, he was a respected and well-liked man whose family had some money. My mother’s family was poor so this was a good opportunity to have a better future. Her parents were able to send her to school until grade 4. Then it was time to work the land.

She was 15 years old when I was born. She’d play with me as if I was another doll except I cried a lot because I was colicky. She died when I was three years old. All I know is that she had an incurable rare disease and God was kind to her because she didn’t suffer much and died in her sleep.

Her two single sisters, mamá Chita and mamá Lencha, ended up raising me along with mamá Anita. I only saw my father twice a year when he’d pay me a visit bringing me clothes and giving mamá Chita and mamá Lencha some money for my expenses. When the war broke out, mamá Lencha left to the U.S. promising to send someone for me if my father gave her permission. We never heard from her. Up until now, we don’t know what happened to her. Two years later, mamá Chita got sick and died. Mamá Anita was too old to take care of me so she sent me off to my father’s house. I was 10 years old.

I arrived to his house and learned I had three brothers and a little sister. He had found a nice girl from a small town. A year later, my father was killed in a cross-fire between the guerrilla and the army. Apparently he had nothing to do with politics. He was just another casualty of the conflict. Everyone said that it was meant to be.

My stepmother, who I started calling mamita, sold the house and told us we would be leaving. Every teenager was being kidnapped to fight, and she told us we would be next. She took us to Los Angeles because she had some family there. Upon our arrival, I learned from her cousin I had a madrina there, mamá Tina. My mamita arranged a meeting in the church we started attending so we could see each other.

Mamá Tina told me about the day I was baptized. My mother had asked El Señor de Esquipulas to protect me. Mamá Tina was convinced that it was because of this prayer I was still alive. I don’t know if I believe that or not but what I do know for sure is that in my lifetime I’ve had a lot of mother figures and for that I’m very grateful.

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