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MY GREAT GRANDFATHER

By November 26, 2019August 19th, 2020No Comments

 “I’M TELLING YOU THAT IF YOU LEAVE OUR HOUSE AND MOVE IN WITH THAT WOMAN, JOSEFINA, YOU WILL NEVER BE ALLOWED BACK HERE!  I WILL CUT YOU OUT OF THIS FAMILY AND DON’T EVEN THINK OF GETTING A SINGLE CENT FROM US TO HELP YOU!”

 APPARENTLY, MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER SAID SOMETHING OF THIS SORT TO MY GRANDFATHER WHO AT THE YOUNG AGE OF 16, DECIDED TO MOVE IN WITH MY GRANDMOTHER, JOSEFINA.  “FURTHERMORE, I WILL MAKE SURE THAT NONE OF OUR FRIENDS HELP YOU EITHER!” SHOUTED MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER. “YOU’RE NUTS TO MOVE IN WITH AN OLDER WOMAN AND FATHER CHILDREN THAT ARE NOT YOURS!!”

 MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER CAME FROM A PROMINENT EUROPEAN FAMILY THAT MIGRATED TO MEXICO.  WE ARE NOT 100% CERTAIN, BUT HE WAS MOST LIKELY FROM AUSTRIA.  THE STORY GOES THAT HE BUILT A LARGE FORTUNE AND INVESTED IN LAND IN THE TOWN OF TEQUILA. THERE WERE FEW WEALTHY FAMILIES THAT DOMINATED THE AREA AND THEY WERE ONE OF THEM. WHEN THE REVOLUTION CAME, THEY WERE PERSECUTED BY THE REVOLUTIONARIES BECAUSE OF THEIR “FIRST CLASS” STATUS.  BUT WHO CAN BLAME THE REVOLUTIONARIES?  SOME PEOPLE HAD SO MUCH AND OTHER PEOPLE BARELY HAD ANYTHING BUT A TORTILLA TO EAT. BECAUSE OF THE INSTABILITY OF THE REVOLUTION, MY GREAT-GRANDPARENTS ESCAPED TO GUADALAJARA WHERE THEY STILL HAD SOME MONEY TO BUY A HOME ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE CITY. THAT IS WHERE MY GREAT-GRANDPARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN WHERE RAISED.

THE SCENE BETWEEN MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER AND MY GRANDFATHER IS EASY FOR ME TO PICTURE IN MY MIND SINCE I SPENT MY CHILDHOOD VISITING THIS HOUSE EVERY AFTERNOON. THE HOUSE HAD HIGH CEILINGS AND THE WALLS WERE LINED WITH MIRRORS AND PAINTINGS.  I WAS A CHILD WHEN I WOULD VISIT AND I REMEMBER HAVING TO BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS WHEN I WAS IN THE HOUSE SINCE THERE WERE SO MANY VALUABLE THINGS THAT COULD BREAK. I WOULD FEEL INTIMIDATED BY THE HOUSE AND MY UNCLES.  WE WERE TOLD BY MY MOTHER THAT WE BETTER BEHAVE OR ELSE. I DID NOT KNOW WHAT “ELSE” MEANT BUT I KNEW IT WAS NOT GOOD.

MY SISTER, JOSEFINA, INHERITED THIS HOUSE SINCE SHE WAS RAISED BY ONE OF MY AUNT AND MY UNCLE. THIS IS ANOTHER COMPLICATED STORY. SHE STILL LIVES IN THE HOUSE NOW AND IS SURROUNDED BY THE SAME FURNITURE AND MEMORIES. NOW THE HOUSE IS OVER 150 YEARS OLD AND THE EFFECTS OF TIME ARE SEVERELY SHOWING. BUT THE HOUSE IS STILL THERE! IN FACT, IF YOU ARE IN GUADALAJARA, YOU CAN ACTUALLY VISIT THIS HISTORICAL HOUSE!

GOING BACK TO MY GRANDFATHER, HIS NAME WAS JOSE. HE WAS WILLING TO LEAVE ALL THAT COMFORT OF HIS HOME AND THE COMFORT OF A GOOD FUTURE FOR THE LOVE OF MY GRANDMOTHER.  SHE WAS 9 YEARS OLDER THAN HIM! IF HE WAS 16, SHE WAS 25 . . . STILL NOT A TOTAL ADULT, BUT VERY DIFFERENT FROM A 16 YEAR OLD! SHE ALSO HAD THREE KIDS FROM … THREE DIFFERENT MEN…. SO YOU CAN IMAGINE THE SCANDAL.

JOSE DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL AND ALSO DROPPED OUT OF HIS COMMON SENSE!! HIS TWO OTHER BROTHERS AND SISTERS ALL HAD COLLEGE DEGREES INCLUDING MY AUNT.  IN THOSE TIMES A WOMAN GETTING A HIGHER EDUCATION WAS NOT COMMON AT ALL!  NEEDLESS TO SAY, MY GRANDFATHER’S PARENTS WERE VERY DISAPPOINTED AND UPSET WITH HIM!  THE EXPECTATION FOR HIM TO FOLLOW THE SAME FOOTSTEPS AS HIS SIBLINGS VANISHED LIKE A SOAP BUBBLE. MY GRANDFATHER WAS SWEPT AWAY BY MY GRANDMOTHER’S BEAUTY AND EXPERIENCE.

MONEY WAS AN ISSUE FOR MY GRANDFATHER.  ALL OF HIS FAMILY CLOSED THEIR DOORS ON HIM.  HIS GODFATHER WAS THE OWNER OF TEQUILA CUERVO AND PROBABLY FELT THE MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP HIS GODSON BY GIVING HIM A POSITION IN HIS FACTORY IN THE TOWN OF TEQUILA. MY GRANDFATHER WAS IN CHARGE OF TRANSPORTING THE PAYROLL FOR THE WORKERS. THERE IS A FAMOUS STORY THAT ONE DAY MY GRANDMOTHER FOUND OUT THAT HER YOUNG HUSBAND WAS GOING TO BE AMBUSHED BY SOME THIEVES WHO PLANNED TO STEAL THE PAYROLL MONEY. THE STORY GOES THAT SHE SHOWED UP WITH A GUN AND SCARED THE THIEVES AWAY. I DON’T KNOW IF SHE WAS GIVEN ANY HEROIC CREDIT FOR THIS ACT. IT HAD BECOME KNOWN THOUGH THAT SHE CARRIED A GUN WITH HER AT ALL TIMES. TO PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE, WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT BACK IN THOSE DAYS DURING THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION, CARRYING A GUN WAS COMMON. MY MOTHER WOULD TELL ME THAT HER BROTHERS WOULD NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THEIR GUN.

 BY THE TIME MY MOTHER WAS BORN IN THE YEAR 1930, TIMES WERE DIFFICULT.  SHE WAS THE YOUNGEST OF EIGHT, FIVE OF WHICH WERE HER FULL SIBLINGS. HER FATHER, MY GRANDFATHER JOSE, WAS NO LONGER AROUND. HE DID STAY 15 YEARS WITH MY GRANDMOTHER BEFORE ABANDONING HER.  IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT HE ENDED UP LEAVING THE FAMILY. SHE TOLD ME THAT ONE TIME WHEN SHE WAS A BABY, HER MOTHER AND FATHER GOT INTO SUCH A HEATED ARGUMENT THAT THE PISTOLS CAME OUT AND SHOTS WERE HEARD! LUCKILY, THEY BOTH OBVIOUSLY DID NOT MEAN TO HURT EACH OTHER.  THEY JUST MEANT TO SCARE THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF ONE ANOTHER. NEVERTHELESS, THAT WAS THE LAST TIME HE WAS SEEN AT MY GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE.

I REMEMBER THE DAY MY GRANDFATHER DIED.  I WAS A LITTLE GIRL AND WE WERE HAVING OUR DINNER AT HOME WITH MY FATHER AND MY SISTERS WHEN MY MOTHER GOT THE CALL THAT HER FATHER HAD PASSED AWAY. I CLEARLY REMEMBER HER LETTING OUT A DEEP SIGH AS TEARS STREAMED DOWN HER CHEEKS. I WONDER IF THOSE TEARS WERE FOR A NOSTALGIA OF A FATHER SHE NEVER HAD.

MY DAUGHTER HAS BEEN JOKING AROUND WITH ME THAT I AM FIXATED ON FINDING OUT MORE ABOUT MY FAMILY HISTORY.  YES, IT’S TRUE, I AM.  I AM SO CURIOUS ABOUT MY PARENTS, MY GRANDPARENTS, THEIR PARENTS.  HOW THEY LIVE.  HOW THEY TREATED ONE ANOTHER.  HOW THEY SURVIVED HARDSHIPS WITHOUT THE TOOLS THAT WE HAVE TODAY.  LIFE WAS SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN.  I AM SO GRATEFUL TO BE IN TODAY’S WORLD AND TO BE ABLE TO LOOK BACK, FEEL COMPASSION (AND SADNESS) AND GRATITUDE FOR THE NOW.

MORE TO COME IN MY NEXT J4K!

I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS, PLEASE SEND TO MY PERSONAL EMAIL ADDRESS,
GUADALUPEJ4K@GMAIL.COM!