yes older and wiser

there comes a time in our youth where we are bursting with righteous indignation over crimes and atrocities against humanity, protesting and hollering, demanding wrongs be righted.some are others too huge to topple. then comes the time when you are in one way or another, nesting, politically dormant almost. then you seem to come full circle, at a point back to all that passion for unforgotten ideals. you’re not older, you’re wiser and you know finally, you were right.

yes older and wiser

there comes a time in our youth where we are bursting with righteous indignation over crimes and atrocities against humanity, protesting and hollering, demanding wrongs be righted.some are others too huge to topple. then comes the time when you are in one way or another, nesting, politically dormant almost. then you seem to come full circle, at a point back to all that passion for unforgotten ideals. you’re not older, you’re wiser and you know finally, you were right.

meeting cesar

i first came in contact with cesar & the ufw in 1968 when he came to east LA college to speak about the union and the grape boycott. as i waited for the keynote speaker (cesar) i could see this small, brown-skinned man with his hair slightly disheveled. i thought this must be cesar’s assistant, whick would explain so many aproaching him for and to give information. the man was so soft-spoken you could barely hear him a few feet away. the introduction finished, cesar would now speak, i looked behind us to see him approach, nothing. facing the front i saw the man, the charismatic man, approaching the microphone. so many thoughts ran through my still unpoliticized mind. he began to speak. the voice, it turned off everything else and held me mesmerized. he spoke of farmworker hardships, abuses, chemical exposures while working in the fields with very little financial recompense. he talked about children working in fields doing what only adults should do. his words entered my mind and raced to my heart. “what can i do?” “i have to do something!” i felt tears stinging my eyes and i’ve never been a good crier. he spoke of marches, hunger strikes, informing the public and boycotting grapes. i knew this would be difficult to do as my family was nuts for grapes, especially the green ones. i guess he was touched by my tears, he approached me after his speech. he shook my hand, i apologized for the tears. he told me the tears would sprout someone of great ccommittment and great action. he told me to follow my heart.i went home and informed my papi & mami we would no longer buy california table grapes in support of the farmworkers. my mom balked, but she was a life-long teamster. “mami, it’s the united farmworkers’ union, founded by cesar chavez.” “oh, they’re a union” she responded. i told her that if union people didn’t support them who would? i was all of 18, still an innocent and i informed them i would stand in front of the local safeway asking people not to buy table grapes. neither was too happy as the store was in a really bad barrio. i didn’t care. so off i went each day at 4:45 to take my place with sign & homemade flyers in hand. two weeks passed. then my mami & papi showed up with two more signs and more flyers they had printed up somewhere. i was so embarrassed demanding to know what they were doing. since i was going to do this, they were too. mami had already talked to her union to ask they not buy table grapes to support the UFW and my dad no longer bought them. we had good responses and bad of course. when people would ignore me and walk passed my mami would get in their path and say “are you hard of hearing & blind? she’s talking to you, don’t be rude” with my papi standing behind her scowling. we did this for 5 or 6 months. i learned so much about myself, my parents and people. mostly i learned about cesar, a lesson i’ve never forgotton. RIP leader.

marriage

this is the 2nd marriage for me & pete, needless to say we have some experience. of course, not all of it positive. we are as distinct as two people can be. i like to read and write, he likes movies with explosions, cars rolling over and lots of shooting. he also likes all the soccer he can watch. i like soccer too, but i have a team i follow. he follows soccer, all of it. i’ve had to break him from talking baby talk to my granddaughter. he only gave in when i told him the kids in her pre-school class would make fun of her. the family calls him the weakest link. we are all somewhat weak with her, but he’s the weakest. considering he’s a bull of a man, it’s hard to imagine she has him wrapped around her pinkie.

the best advice was from my mom. she said that a marriage is a union, a joint effort. she said that dos gueyes can’t pull a wagon if they’re going i different directions. i’ve always wondered if she was saying que somos gueyes.

we’ve been through it all. he’s not the greatest romanticist, but some days he comes in and tells me i’m pretty, even though i know i’m not. i’ve been close to death a few times, and he’s held me strong. i’ve cried to him in fear, despair and anger and he’s always there to remind me where i came from. he knew my folks towards the end of their lives, but recognized their strength. he knows i was raised to be strong. and i am.

he comes from strong people as well. he’s from the michoacan highlands. he left his parents & children to come to the US to work. he returned home a year later, dissolved his marital union and returned to the US. that was when we met. we were both out dancing. i saw this golden brown man with a smile that melted my knees. he has minimal schooling, i’m university educated. i know how to ride a bike, he was too poor to have one. i had a steady job, he never knew what he would do when the harvest would end. in the winter he takes work in the grape fields. in both his jobs he is known as one of the fastest workers. supervisors put new workers with him to learn from.lettuce harvesting is hard, but the grapevines are tough & dangerous. the vines are on wire leads. when pruning the vines, they have to pull the cut vine from the wire. he’s seen several eye injuries.

we are now facing another hurdle in our lives. immigration wants to deport him. he could face a 3 to 10 year ban because he entered “without inspection.” insulting because it sound like he’s a tomato. it would be so easy to move mexico to live, but my health prohibits it. leaving my kids & grandkids would kill me. we are readying ourselves for the immigration battle. this is one we will fight together. we’re both strong-willed people, stubborn to a fault. i married him legally sanctioned by the great state of california. i’m from L.A. we don’t stop.

i know this is love, he’s seen me at my physical worst, when my hair fell out (luckily it grew back), when i couldn’t bathe myself, when he had to work, clean, wash and cook for me as if i were a baby. he has my heart, now and forever. NO ONE will take him from me, that’s my word.