Photo courtesy by Jocelyn Marcial
LA River School

Immigration & awakening from fear

Every morning, my mother wakes up to light the candles and give thanks for another day. She reminds me to do the same because not everyone has the chance to be grateful for a beautiful awakening.

Her days were not easy as a young child, who was only 14-years-old with her aunt, who was 38-years-old when coming to the United States. Fear arose when she knew that she would be leaving her parents behind and her siblings as well.

My mother, Maria de Socorro, was only a child when she said her goodbyes to her family in her small town in Tierra Caliente Guerrero, Mexico. She did not have the same opportunity to say her goodbyes to her close friends. Without imagining what would happen in the next couple of days, she grabbed nothing but her memories.

Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Marcial

The memories were her only strengths in the journey that she would soon face in the days to come. No clue was given to her as to how difficult the time and days would come along and she was scared of only what could happen without her parents being around. Through the vivid long hours, people were helpful and gave her the space to feel comfortable. The people who road the same journey were frightened and felt they needed to be safe.

My mother could not believe and take for action that she was getting even farther every moment from her parents. Every hour felt as if they were days. Every day felt as if they were months. Every distance she moved forward was felt, the feeling that she got even farther, in a blink of an eye, from her parents.

Being afraid of meeting a border patrol and not knowing what would further happen was what she most thought about. Asking herself, “Am I safe, what will I do once I arrive?” There were a few kids who were also leaving their hometown, not knowing why they were migrating, not remembering their names.

The only scene she could visualize at the moment was playing ropes and airplanes with her younger brothers and friends, her mother cooking in the kitchen and father helping set up the table, finding every chair they had so that everyone would all eat together. Unfortunately, all these days are long gone and meant to be memorable.

Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Marcial

While sleeping and dreaming, my mother was woken up by her aunt. She opened her eyes and saw a future and bravery ahead of her. Seeing green trees, houses, mountains and a view that was different to the one she was normally used to. Also in those moments, she realized that it was not easy to shift from one type of living to another, without having citizenship documents.

When my mother arrived in Arizona she stayed a couple of months before moving to Los Angeles. At age 15, she began to work in the maquiladora, the sewing factory, feeling confident that the decision for her to come to the U.S. was a good one.

My grandparents were witnesses to the distance they had between themselves and their daughter. A child, only 14-years-old, was sent to an unknown state, to help her parents out. My mother did not continue school because she did not have the support from her aunt or sister. Maria had the mentality that with all she had gone through, her challenges would soon be her strength and she would be able to move on and work with a much stronger mindset.

Everyone at some point in their life tend to feel empty. For my mother, it was the love of both of her parents and not receiving a hug for all the good tasks that she had completed. In Spanish we say, “Que bueno mija,” as a sign of parental love and approval. My mother did not receive that encouragement.

“It broke me inside knowing that I would be leaving my parents and not seeing them again, because leaving your hometown is not easy, most likely it is not easy to go back,” my mother said.

Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Marcial

“I want you to remember how much work I have put in and an honest life that I have been living throughout my years in the United States,” my mother once told me to remember.

When she finished telling me, it felt as if I lived the journey my own. With all the honesty and truth, I cry every time I hear my mother cry over her mother. Everyone is in a special place but sometimes, we don’t always appreciate it.