Daily Archives: Friday, April 4, 2014

I never knew what she had witnessed (while she was alive) – 35/40

I met a woman once.

She was Antonio’s great-grandmother.

This woman was from a caste that we call the peninsulares.

A Peninsulares family

She was a lovely lady, who could carry a conversation with anyone and she and I had one delightful exchange.  She asked about my fathers bullfighting and my mothers travels and seemed so delighted to have met me. I left thinking I had met a woman with a gentle life and a gentle family.

What I did not know then, and did not know for over twenty-five years is that when she was a young girl in her early teens, she was forced into exile during the Mexican revolution. That idea enough is a hard thing to image, but what I find so much more heart wrenching is that she witnessed her whole family being murdered; strung up by their feet until their temples exploded. Her parents, and brothers.  She had to cross the border in Arizona… and somehow ended up in Phoenix where I would have the pleasure of meeting her forty years later.

When I was told this story about her, my heart hurt. I began to think back on all the dictatorships, riots, rebellions, the fear of the Shining Path, the Colombian Civil war. All these warlike experiences that I had managed to live through I realized that when you are an expatriate there is a huge possibility of this very thing happening. Being an outsider is never easy.