Today my mother, Guadalupe, marks her 80th birthday. Even with high life expectancies here in the U.S., that’s still a notable milestone. My mother was born just outside México City, the second of four children to a German-American father and a Mexican mother. If you understand anything about Germans and Mexicans, then you might have an idea what a character my mother turned out to be. She had a rough start. She weighed less than 2 pounds, which in the early 1930s, was an almost certain death sentence for a baby. They carried her home in a shoe box and used her father’s handkerchiefs as diapers. And, she lived.
Her father had traveled from his native Michigan with an uncle to México in the late 1920s. They were selling farm equipment. Eventually, my grandfather’s uncle returned to Michigan, but my grandfather stayed in México where he met my grandmother. They were an odd couple; two people from two completely different worlds. But somehow, it all worked out. Unfortunately, my grandmother died on Christmas Day 1940 at the age of 33. Less than three years later, my grandfather moved the kids and mother-in-law to Texas where he had found work. It was the height of World War II, and he had to leave México. That turned out to be the best thing for them all, though; in part, because my mother eventually met my father.
I’m an only child and knowing what my mother endured during her pregnancy and labor makes me realize why. She literally almost lost me twice and nearly died in the process. There’s just no way to thank a woman willing to sacrifice her life to bring you into this world. Besides, it’s from her that I get my love of reading and my acumen for spelling – two attributes that every good writer must have. Happy Birthday, Mother!