by Lisa Molina
At 12, the 3rd generation American girl
leaves her mother in Michigan to live
with her uncle and aunt in Texas in 1945.
They tell her she can stop working in the
fields pulling sugar beets from the ground.
And she can go to school. And take piano lessons.
The school and piano lessons never happen.
She doesn’t go to school. She trades fresh tortillas
to play a neighbor’s piano whenever she can.
She marries at 14 because she doesn’t know she can say “No.”
At 16, she gives birth to her first child, naming him Guillermo. At 20, she births Roberto.
Her house is a tiny one bedroom white box built by her father in a small south Texas town.
It is supposed to be The American Dream of the Eisenhower years.
She dusts her house obsessively. Her children are always bathed and dressed in freshly ironed clean clothes.
“We may be poor, but we don’t have to be dirty.”
Guillermo and Roberto learn to speak English and Spanish.
At school they are punished; Spanked, for speaking Spanish on the playground with their friends.
In the 1960s, she brings two more children into the world. She names them Karen and Stephen.
Her husband leaves her shortly after Stephen is born.
She tells Guillermo and Roberto (now called William and Robert)
“Don’t ever speak Spanish to Karen and Stephen.”
Karen and Stephen grow up not understanding the Spanish their brothers sometimes speak.
And speak to their grandparents through kisses and hugs.
But they go to school without fear of punishment or spankings.
50 years later, Stephen holds a college degree and becomes nationally known and highly respected in his field.
He and his wife Linda have two children.
The children don’t call Stephen’s mother Grandma.
No, Stephen and Linda have taught their children
to call her