Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Telling Our Stories: Josefina
Hi, this is Josefina. We've had kind of a long hiatus with this particular line of "feature" posts. That's mainly my fault. I've kind of been struggling with what to say. Finally my sisters told me I have to say something, so someone else can have a turn. So I'm just going to give it a try.
I was born in Texas, just across the Mexican border. I never really knew my father (he was from Guatemala) because he and my mom weren't together for very long. I was super close to my mom, though. It was just the two of us in our little apartment, and a lot of times I felt like she was more of a best friend to me than an authority figure. She didn't let me run wild or anything, she was just really good at showing me how important I was to her.
We never had much money, but we had a lot of fun. Our favourite thing to do together was cook. Mom taught me to make Mexican meals like she and her brothers and sisters had eaten growing up in Mexico, and we also tried making food from other countries too. She loved to decorate, and we were constantly repainting the apartment and finding cool new furnishing at thrift stores and left on the curb. That's how I learned to value creativity.
I was creative in different ways than my mom, though. As I got a little older, I realized my passion was for writing. My didn't always understand the stuff I wrote in English, so I would translate it to Spanish for her. She would always tell me what I good job I did. "Excellent, Josefina!" she would say. "I can't wait to read more!"
It's because of my mom that I got interested in photography. I wanted to have her "eye" for colour and detail, and while I wasn't as much into painting and decorating, through the lens of the camera I could see the world the way she did.
Even though I didn't live with anyone but my mom, we had a lot of family in our town that we spent time with. Every day after school I would go visit my abuela (grandmother) and she would tell me stories about growing up in Mexico, while we made pastries and cookies and desserts together. I also spent time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was great to be that close with all my family.
When I was nine, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She got treatment, but there wasn't really much the doctors could do because it was pretty far along by the time they found it. Mom died when I was ten. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I'm still really sad when I talk about it, so I'm not going to say anything more. I'd rather talk about how things were when she was alive.
After my mom died, I moved around between relatives a lot. They all loved me, but none of them really had the money or the space to keep me for very long. I lived with my abuela on and off between the others, and she wished I could stay but she was very old and getting sick a lot. She needed to go into a nursing home, so she had to find someone else to take care of me.
That's when I found out that I had a half-sister (Charissa) with the same father as me, and that she had three other sisters too. They had room in their house for me, so I went to stay with them. It was a big adjustment to a different culture and climate (hardly any sun!), but I really like it here now.
Unfortunately my grandmother didn't live much longer after she went to the nursing home. I actually think the only reason she held on as long as she did was that she wanted to make sure I was safe and had a permanent home before she died. I miss her a lot too, but she told me that she wasn't sad or afraid about dying because she wanted to be with my grandfather again, and she would look down from heaven and watch over me, just like my mom was already doing.
So... that's my life. Some things were sad, but most were happy. I miss my family members who have died, but I'm glad I have my sisters now. Thanks for listening to my story!