Oral History: My G-Grandmother

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"Porque Estas Aqui, Muchacha?"

Franciso, donde estas? Te necesito. No puedo hacer esto sola.
Antonia Santa Maria knew it was for the family that Francisco Diaz her husband was away looking for work, but the burdens of the family weighed heavy on her and she didn't think she could bear it alone. It seemed to her that Francisco would come home to see the latest addition to the household and then be off again looking for work having prepared my great grandmother for her next child to be born. My grandmother, Virginia had just been born a few days before on December 15, 1886 and her one year old sister had just died. Times were difficult and only the strongest survived in Rancho de Animas a small ranch close to the town of Santa Maria de los Angeles, Jalisco, Mexico. Food was scarce and that night Antonia cried and struggled to hold onto her two bundles. One alive and one dead. She held on tightly knowing those tugs on the bundles were from the hungry rats that knew there was something to eat inside. What could she do? Her mother-in-law, Andrea Torres was very mean to her and she couldn't depend on her for help. After all wasn't she the one that had given the order for two large pans of water to be prepared when Abuelita Virginia was born? One pan was to be filled with very nice and warm water waiting for the first born boy and the other filled with ice water if the child was a girl. . .Abuelita Virginia got the ice water introduction to the world. Antonia decided to take her dead firstborn to the cemetery. At the gate she waited and waited and finally another family came mourning to bury their dead. Disease and death visited the area often with various plagues and epidemics of Yellow Fever and Cholera taking their toll. She had no money to use for a proper burial and hoped that her sad story would find a kind heart. She went to the family and explained her sorrow and begged to be allowed to drop her bundled dead baby into their grave as well. . .God granted for the family to receive her plea and Antonia felt her life drop away as she felt the dropped bundle release from her hand and fall into the grave. Antonia's dark Indian skin had always been the issue with her mother-in-law Andrea. Why couldn't her fair skinned Francisco have married someone in his own class. But Francisco would have none of it. He had lived life to the fullest riding and drinking hard. Francisco could see that she was about his age and it turned out they were both born the same year, 1862. From that first time he saw her in Tepetongo one day when Antonia and her sister, Panchita were walking to church he was smitten in love with her. In fact after they went into the church Francisco waited for her and finally got the message to her that he wanted to talk to her outside. When Antonia came out Francisco, who was not one for small talk, swept her onto his horse and took her away as his wife. They remained a married couple until his death in 1906 in Chihuahua. If only Jorge Diaz, her father-in-law were here things would be better. . .hadn't he been the one that had rescued her sister-in-law Feliciana from the French, maybe he would have now rescued her from her depths of sorrow and depression. But with Andrea feeling the way she did about Antonia she knew she could find no support at this heart rending time of her life. She wanted her mother. . .she wanted to go home. Antonia had been born in the rancho Salitrillo and her parents, Lucio Santa Maria and Cecilia Lugo were from a well established family having lived for many generations in the Ranchos close to Tepetongo, Zacatecas which was not far, just to the North at the border of Jalisco and Zacatecas, not more than a days travel but for a person on foot and weak from child birth the journey would be a stern challenge. Before beginning her journey home Antonia prepared as best she could and possibly even thought about and drew strength from Feliciana,...
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