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  • Writer's pictureMichael Roman

I am an immigrant

Updated: Apr 24, 2020

Blog Entry #1

My story starts like almost everyone else’s story in the United States. I am the product of transnational migration. My grandmother migrated to the United States from Chihuahua Mexico during the Mexican revolution.

Her father, Jose, was a farmer, and her mother, Cruz, was a homemaker. According to Mama Mona, as I called her, my great grandfather was strict, short and dark-skinned. My great grandmother, on the other hand, was tall, pretty, light-skinned and a saint. Mona’s oldest brother had several children. One became a nun but left the order, married and migrated to Fabens, Texas. She had nine children. One died in his early twenties after being electrocuted during a storm. Another mysteriously disappeared during the Mexican revolution when tending sheep in the mountains. Many suspected that the soldiers killed him. Mona was young when the soldiers came. She remembered seeing a man’s body hanging from a tree in the town’s center while walking to school. Soon after that day, she decided it too dangerous to attend school and stopped attending at age eight.

The family was traveling to Fabens when a third brother died in a car accident. The only one to survive was the couple’s child — Jess, a baby boy, who would eventually bring the family back together. Her brothers had gone to the United States to find work as farmhands. Jose decided to leave Mexico to be with his sons. He sold the family’s animals and left. Thinking Mona would be the least suspect of having money, he hid all money on her as they traveled to Fabens, Texas.

Jose had a letter of reference, stating that he was a good worker and an honest man. With that, he found a job at a farm in Tornillo, Texas and eventually became the farm's supervisor. The car accident that took Jess’s parents forced him to join Jose and Mona on the farm in America.

About ten years later, Jose decided to go back to Mexico after his wife became ill with a fatal case of pneumonia. Jose brought Jess back to Mexico. It was not long before word got back to Mona that her father had died of a heart attack in Mexico. Her mother was buried in an American cemetery and her father rested in a Mexican grave. Mona was unable to attend his funeral. After Jose’s death, Jess decided to return to America. He didn't feel comfortable in Mexico. At the age of sixteen, he moved to Arizona but remained in touch with Mona, who thought highly of him, up until his death.

In her adult life, Mona was a homemaker. When the cotton season came around, she earned twelve or fifteen cents per pound. She dragged a twenty-five-pound bag strapped to her waist in the hot fields. Small pickup trucks came in the morning and bring her back in the late afternoon. Sometimes her children went with her. Running through rows of cotton they entertained themselves, and occasionally, they too picked.

"Sometimes we would tie small bags to our waists to help. I always wandered away, and she would yell at me. Stay close so I can see you! She always talked in Spanish. When I started school, I did not know English. It was difficult, but eventually, all of us picked up the language."

Taking a deep breath, my aunt returns to a different subject, her father.

"Everyone who met him liked him. He was kind, gentle and a very hard worker. He was born in Villahumada, Mexico in 1911. He was very tall, maybe six feet. He had a tattoo on his arm with a cross and his mother’s name on it. She died when he was very young, and from then a sobrina (niece) raised him until he was thirteen. He called her 'mom' until her husband took her from him. He moved around a lot, staying here and there with relatives until he decided to go to the United States. One season, he got very sick. The owners of the farm took him in and nursed him back to health. It was on this farm where he met Mona. She was living on the farm and had a small business cooking for the farmhands. She was trying to make a living for her and her son since her previous marriage fell apart."

The young boy the owners took in, frequented Mona’s kitchen and fell in love with her and her child. On June 5, 1910, Mona married that young farmhand, and eventually had children who had children of their own, of which I am the last.

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