“The closeness of these relationships shows Hispanic families are very cohesive, culturally entwined and known for spending much time together. Even in adversity, they stick together to fight the common enemy and quarrel about it afterwards when the business is done” The Parra family members are proud Hispanic families associated with a long prolific history of hard workers and successful business ventures going back several generations. The matriarch of the family was born in the heavily dense forest covered mountainous part of the Gila Mountains Wilderness somewhere between Lordsburg and the extreme southern mountain ranges of New Mexico bordering Old Mexico. Great Nana (great-grandmother) Josefa Sabala Parra was born in the year of 1911 and grew up with a strong faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Surely designated to be the matriarch of the family. Nana Josefa was born in Silver City, New Mexico on November 8th to a pair of migrant workers who cared for her very much, she was to become an influence into many other’s lives from this time until the day she left this earth. Earliest recollection of her was at the family gatherings, a very large family was gatherings with music, dance and plenty of good food.
A strong Mexican man born in the province of Chihuahua, Mexico, and very stern in nature, made sure the family was safe from harm and provided for the family as he was the breadwinner. Acquiring strong work values and principles early in their lives, they raised their children in a very traditional manner in the sense of heritage meaning they followed something they were born with while working stereotyped jobs.
Exposed daily to the horrible and nasty dry heat of the southwestern sun of New Mexico and Arizona summers beat down on them, they survived hard times and good times with both laughter and sorrow.. Festive in nature, they were ordinary working people who knew the responsibilities of giving their employers an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.
The incident, never forgotten, drew much ire from other family members and caused them to find another place to live. The mother is a much more private figure and works hard to be the ultimate source of nurturance and moral authority in the family. Some are immature men who sometimes need a hand in becoming stronger in life than they were raised by their fathers. This fact is one of the common cultural strategies developed to protect the family. An extreme form of patriarchal relations, sometimes called the machismo served to reinforce the prestige of the male in this difficult family role to control events as they benefit the familia. Again, within the family structure, marianismo and machismo are cultural ideals, not rational expectations or a necessary reality lived in our daily lives. When they were young, the boys and girls of the Parra family worked in the local cotton fields and picked cotton from morning to night. Making money and getting paid cash every day, they saved their money. Transient in nature, they worked for ranchers and worked the potato and onion fields when the cotton was slow or the fields were picked clean. Working in fields of southern New Mexico, throughout all the growing seasons, they stayed there on a ranch and lived there with as many as thirty cousins, brothers and sisters staying in one house. This large group of family, called the “Las Parritas” was well known for their hard work and persistent work habits while they sang songs in the hot sizzling sun. Sleeping snuggly together in a small adobe house provided by the land owner, they ate heartily what they grew in their gardens and cooked themselves. Raising their own chilies to flavor their meals, right their in the gardens next to the cotton fields, they enjoyed life as it was. In 1929, in Duncan, Arizona, Nana Josefa and Tata Pilar’s adobe house burned down by accident and the family praised in prayer to thank God as no one was hurt but in reality, everything they owned had vanished in the fire. In the 50’s Nana Josefa and Tata Pilar settled in Mesa, Arizona, on Pasadena Street. Saving enough money to buy this most gracious house that had a dirt floor, they settled in Arizona and bought this modestly built house that was formerly used as an apartment designed with two kitchens and two doors. Immediately, the men and boys of the family, all craftsmen or apprentice by some construction trades, jumped in there with their tools and modified the house to make it meet their living needs and expanded the living areas twice fold to accommodate the family that would reside there.
The house, still standing today, eventually became the home of Cuca, the oldest, and was the center of a family feud when Josefa evicted the two nephews who were living there before they bought the house. Thinking Josefa was family, they thought they could stay there for free as well but found out this was not going to happen as the family already had plans for this house. The family split, they are still feuding today as neither side of the family talks to each other. In 1996, there was an electrical fire that burned the roof at Nana Josefa’s house on Pasadena Street. Family being there to help graciously took Nana Josefa and her daughter, Cuca into their home. In April of 1997, Nana Josefa and daughter, Cuca moved into a new remodeled home on Pasadena Street. Nana was so appreciative to Jesus Christ and all her family members who supported her and helped rebuild her home. All the family members got involved physically and financially to make this happen. Thus this house was the birth place of many festivities and gatherings for the families to enjoy their wonderful culture and closeness. Performing at such family events like birthday parties and Quincea±eras which are comparable and quiet impressive to adult weddings but celebrate the birthday of a girl’s fifteenth birthday, given with a party atmosphere, a beautiful dress and lots of music.
After stalking her on the bus and anywhere she went, Pancho was a young and foolish man who was in love with Margaret and followed her everywhere. Margaret’s mother and father would always insist that the two be chaperoned by older relatives whenever they went out to an event or fiesta. Pancho said to Margaret “let us take the boys this time, as it was more feasible to bring the boys than to hire help while there” Frankie, Blas and Robles Hernandez were always available to help their father with the heavy stuff as it was cheaper to bring the boys than it was to hire laborers inside Mexico or for the business.
Frankie a skilled musician at the age of seven learned how to play the violin as he began to work as a Mariachi part time. Making extra money to give to Margaret and buy things for himself and his oldest sister Veronica, who was almost his twin being eleven months different in ages. Buying a sturdy worktruck and buying a house for the family, Pancho moved the family three times to make his business ends meet.
The family, everyone included, had a part in the business as Frankie, Blas, and Robles worked with him laying the concrete while Margaret made sure they were fed and Veronica did the books for the company to keep the tax man at bay. Margaret remember saying “those boys will have nothing to show for their hard work” because of the voracious appetites of their spouses who lust and greed for money and gold. Every time he moved, he bought a house for them to live in. life was good for awhile until his health began to falter and the business depended on the boys to keep it going. There was no doubt there was some jealousy in the family of the successes gained by their hard work and ability to keep the family in a good setting by providing them a nice place to live no matter where they chose to plant their roots or work. With the addition of the two youngest sons, Abel and Javier to the family, the Hernandez family grew almost double in size and because the boys were always working, they never finished school except for Abel, who graduated from high school in Grants New Mexico where the family lived long enough to have Pancho run a thriving business.
Pancho and Margaret’s son, Robles, was feeling desolate and alone in the small gloomy and barren hole of a prison cell in Arizona, waiting to be sentenced to prison. Bound together by promises, family, as well as some secret relationships, these young gangsters thrived on their violent prone culture to roam the streets and cause chaos and concern to everyone that lived there. Arizona, like New Mexico has a serious gang problem in their prisons. Robles knew that membership is for life, meaning “blood in, blood out.” And that every member must be prepared to sacrifice his life or take another’s life at any time when required as well as striving to overcome his weakness to achieve discipline within the brotherhood and never letting them down. Never wanting to reveal to Margaret the severity or harshness as well as the unrelenting strictness and expectations of the gangs, Robles had kept his other life very private and only shares with his mother those things that may impact him financially or emotionally thus preventing familia hardships that could spill out in the streets from the prisons. Calling often, Margaret is beginning to stress on how to pay the phone bill as it is skyrocketing to balances never ever acquired before and living on a fixed income, she is worried she may not be able to pay the phone bill and keep in touch with her son. The house payment had ballooned up since the second mortgage on the house that financed the lawyers fees and other expenses to keep Robles safe and out of prison any longer than he has too do time.
Raised mostly by his mother Margaret, in a most traditional Hispanic heritage and manner, he recalls his father’s terrible temper as the father was always moody and working and never taking the time to be a fatherly figure as he demanded loyalty from Robles as he did his other boys, while with him in the construction business. His mother was a strict woman with a heart pure as 24 karat gold with strong religious practices that would result in other family members being in church every Sunday morning. Working the night shift in one of the local public school food cafeteria, her injuries were serious enough to disable her. Everyday, she struggles to keep the house clean as her siblings continually destroy the house and keeping it in an awful mess and jumbled. The visit with Robles was somewhat pleasant as Margaret sat there patiently in front of the shield. In the meantime, family members have supported Margaret keeping her both healthy and emotionally resilient. Walking back to the van, Margaret asks Henri if she feels like going to the casino and play a few games on the slots. Pulling out a twenty dollar bill, Margaret picks her nine numbers and hopes they pay off like they have before. Henri, knowing of the financial troubles Margaret is having because of Robles, keeps one hundred dollar bill and gives the other three bills back. Saying to her sister “this will keep me going on the machines the next time I come, I don’t need anymore”. Frantically Margaret searches for her home insurance policy stashed somewhere in her china cabinet and finds it in one of her boxes she keeps for her life insurance policies. Frankie, always needing money to fix his chronically ill cars, nodded his head in agreement and said “okay Abel, let’s do this”. The agent and contractor departed whispering to each other and in concerted movement, they both drove off in different directions and seen for the last time by Margaret. Pancho upset, he was not invited or asked for any input on the roof to do list, grumbles and gnaws at his food while eating at the kitchen table discussing with Margaret why she has to spend so much money and why is she trusting the boys to get the roof fixed when a contractor can do it right. In the meantime, Abel had asked her husband, Daniel, if he would be willing to help them strip the roof for 18 bucks an hour and as he agreed to help with that chore. Calling every now and then, he let his mother know he was fine and doing okay since he was the youngest boy of the family. Margaret was worried about Javier as he has been gone for quiet some time now and his wife, Rosa, has not come by with the children like she used to. A skilled journeyman electrician, he made good money on construction jobs and provided Rosa with the finest things in life. They say money can’t buy happiness but to Rosa, money was very important to have.
Having all the new shingles stacked in the front yard of the house and ready to start stacking them on top of the roof, he was waiting for Abel and Daniel as well as his cousin Rudy, to show up and help with the job. The project, temporarily stalled, was going to have to wait until the boys came back from the urgent care and see if Frankie would be able to work again and if not, Abel would have to find another person to help finish the job before the next monsoon rains came. Nana, living in Arizona most of her life knows what happens during a monsoon and is worried about the rain coming into her house if the roof is uncovered.
Thinking it would be wise to buy some large tarps to cover the house, she tells Marissa to cut a check for the Home Depot and go get enough plastic tarps to cover the entire roof as she fears Frankie may be out for awhile and the boys will be slow getting the job done like they planned. Stressing and worrying about the rains, Margaret tells Marissa to buy some duct tape too as the tarps will need to be sealed as one large sheet to prevent water from leaking into the house. Transferring the chilies to a paper bag to steam until cool enough to handle, Nana said” You gotta peel the chilies using rubber gloves” if your skin is sensitive and as Nana has said many times to her grand kids and giving them an extra warning telling them firmly “don’t rub your eyes”. Almost a month into the project working mostly four days a week, the job was surprisingly well done, Margaret was very happy with the results and after all was counted and inventoried, Marissa added the expenses up and found that the boys were able to do the job with a little over seven thousands dollars taking in consideration that they had to buy extra parts for the air conditioner as they somehow broke the original duct work while working. The chili, both red and green smelled of a strong aroma and awakened Margaret’s senses as she cherished the chili as other family members appreciated her making different casseroles and other dishes with these peppers. Suddenly Abel storms into the house and slams the door. Fearing leaks from the wind driven monsoons, they worked feverishly on sealing the unit for the entire day. Working hard throughout the early morning for days and into the early evenings, the boys finally wrapped up the job and felt a sense of pride tickle their egos. Margaret, glad the job was done and proud of her boys, thanks everyone with hugs and kisses and felt relieved the roof was done.
Margaret, knowing he is being sarcastic, says to him “Pancho, we don’t need your help now, go ahead and play.” Marissa, adding up the expenses and managing the money, did a great job in keeping the boys from spending more money than they needed to and when it was all said and done, everybody was happy with the extra cash they made doing a very hard job but well worth the effort put forth since it saved them a lot of money and made them money as well.
Margaret, always interested in her son in laws business, and what he does for a living asked if he is coming to work here to work and where will he be working if he does. The weekend was uneventful and everybody enjoyed their quiet time inside the nice cool dwelling that had every comfort of life including lots of food. Celebration of the familia’s accomplishments and successful completion of their roof was just reason to have a good time and get drunk. It was never unusual for the house to be filled with as many as twenty five people coming and going on a typical day with Nana’s voice screaming out loud “close the door, the air conditioner is on”. The little ninos and ninas aka rug rats, running in and out of the front door, are upsetting Nana as she likes the house nice and cold as she positions two big oscillating fans in the living room to make sure the cold air circulates well and keeps her visitors and familia nice and cool as well as turning on her large ceiling fan. Veronica bought her a new large fan about a year back when the old ceiling fan burned out. Abel, hearing of this idea, agreed that a misting system will cool the area down a lot and help keep the house down.
The children, choosing to stay with their mother, were going to be dropped off by a friend of the family. As soon as Javier arrived they sat and talked for awhile and decide it was better for him to sell his house and come live with his mother since he could no longer afford the house payments and it was only him living there. Upset and visible shaken, Javier kisses his mother on the cheek and leaves the house to spend the night in an empty house filled with memories of when they were happy and one big family. Doing the night scene with his friends and staying out late, Javier has altered his life style and begins to pay the price of burning the candle at both ends. Time went by and soon, Javier was no longer coming by his mother’s house to eat and sleep as he was staying elsewhere with friends while he maintained he had a full time job to attend to making good money. Only time would tell how his future was to be changed by this behavior.
Nana Josefa’s birthday was coming up and getting close to being 96 years old, Margaret wanted to do something special for her mother who still smoked and still drank beer while enjoying life from the front porch of her home that was located in a special housing project near the church they worshipped in. thinking of throwing her a big party with all the family coming and the Mariachis playing for her birthday, it was going to be a special even for sure as the familia didn’t know how many more birthdays she had as her health was slowly declining but her will was still very strongA great Nana to so many, she had a total of seventeen of which four passed away and thirteen children who started a family tree that multiplied into hundreds of relatives comprised of children, grandkids, great grand kids and great-great grandkids. In addition to language common cultural characteristics for Hispanics in the United States include: family, respect, personality, and confidence. The Hispanic family is fascinating as the mother possesses more power than the father. The reality is in this culture, the father is primarily a breadwinner and a sperm-donor fulfilling a generation to generation practice of raising large numbered families that will help each other in a time of need. A good starting place for any discussion regarding the presence or influence of the matriarch is in the Hispanic culture where it is about the family most of the time.
Traditionally, Hispanics include many people in their extended families, not only parents and siblings, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and compadres, close friends and godparents (padrinos) of the family’s children. When ill or injured, Hispanic people frequently consult with other family members and often ask them to come along to medical visits. In general the familia loves to celebrate the gift of live with colorful and festive events that draw family member from throughout the country when planned appropriately. Marissa and Veronica will help cook and the kids will make sure the place will be cleaned up once the party is over.
Margaret and her children and their grand children will help with the preparation of the food and delivery of the pots and dishes as this was going to be the biggest event for the day and because of the heat, it would start early in the morning at Nana’s house. When one thinks of a matriarch in a Hispanic family, one must picture an older woman who is considered to be the main influence of the family and viewed to be relaxing, drinking a cup of coffee or just sitting there enjoying the music that brings them joy and peace. By noon, the sun was high and hot those two headed to Margaret’s house where the air conditioning was working just fine as they settled in to wait the sun out and go back out as the sun went down on the west side of town cooling things down a bit so he could breath and not be so miserable. Margaret, her family and other relatives enjoyed these fiestas as they gave them a chance to enjoy life that was sometimes not so very good due to the adversities involved. The father of the little girl also called Margarita, got busted by the Phoenix cops just a few weeks ago and sent back to prison to finish out his parole time. Awaiting going to prison and no longer able to pay the child support payments he was ordered by the state until she was eighteen years old, Marissa will be in dire straights if she loses this income although small, it was significant in her ability to buy food and clothes for the kids. This loss will caused them financial strain as the bills they made were huge as they had bought expensive luxurious items to enjoy life a bit. The Hernandez family tends to be a spiritual people and will talk freely of a person’s soul or espritu. Their ancestral roots from deep inside of Mexico, the family are Mexico’s most important institution, and people maintain strong family bonds. When among family, they feel secure and confident, for family members provide each other with material and moral support. People see the family as an essential safety net, providing help and protection when needed. And a person’s responsibilities to his or her family are given high priority. Mexican-American extended families go beyond bloodlines to include compadrazgo ‘” godfather relationships. A child’s godfather is called compadre – co-father, the godmother comadre ‘” co-mother.
Many Mexican families use the system of godparenting to expand their support system. Friendships are also important to this culture, as people may call a friend “brother” or “sister” hermano or hermana. This culture exhibits strong family ties and love and take care of their family and love to socialize among their vast extended family. They like to live around each other and go through much trouble finding houses nearby. So it is true as the Parra and Hernandez families have always lived a few miles from each other and often share resources to save money. These families are hard working people and are not hard to please. Religion plays an important part in the lives of Mexican Americans. Having moved throughout the entire United States and often far removed from their family members, their spirits are not dampened as their festivals are colorful, have loud music with lots of dancing and also have extended family get togethers. Nana and her sisters are planning a surprise birthday party for Blas and his family who are coming down for the Fourth of July holiday. The main purpose is to help them raise money to pay for the big wedding the oldest daughter is about to have before she delivers her first baby. The birthday party or feliz cumplea±os is often celebrated with the presence of the mariachi ensemble who in this case are many family members of the Parra family as Margaret’s niece Angie and son Frankie play the violin and Nana’s boyfriend plays the trumpet and his best friend plays the acoustic guitar. Nana is nervous as it is time for all the dishes to be gathered and put into the van and pick up trucks of those who volunteered to deliver the goods. The festive mood set aside and the mood turning solemn, the bad news travels fast as other family member hear about Robles’s injuries and wonder if the surprise party was still going to be held as Nana is now very distraught and nervous worrying about her other son. The festivities have begun and close to a hundred family and friends gathered to surprise Blas on his birthday. The party went well and the boys are laughing and slapping each other around joking and having fun as Margaret sits at her table worrying about Robles. “Hello Blas.” Blas pushed a margarita drink towards her. I call it the Margaret Rita, after my mom. Slowly Margaret sips on her small glass containing her favorite drink and settles in the chair they brought from home and watches everybody enjoy themselves by dancing and drinking the night away celebrating the birth of her favorite son. Today, Nana has decided to sit down with her grandkids and show off her family album of pictures going back in time when Nana Josefa and Tata Pilar were children themselves and living on the ranches and farms picking cotton, onions and potatoes for a living. The big man nodded and opened the door for Veronica and Mariana. “It feels… well, very funny” Veronica smiled mysteriously and sipped at her drink. Veronica wanted to dance and listen to loud music, and shouts loudly at Mariana, “How about if we go somewhere else to party as this place is like really dead.” Waking up hungry late the next morning, Veronica and Mariana were not in the mood for the normal breakfast served at home. Veronica , teasing her said “It must be eaten slowly…” House chores were always divided among the kids when they were little as Nana was very picky on keeping her house clean especially for unexpected company that always dropped in without calling first. If Nana is passionate bout something, it is her novellas and her music by the Mariachis. Something else that people noticed about Margaret was her love to wear gold. Some, already grown adults with kids and not working, are living at Nana’s because of their disagreement with their own parents or because they are left behind because of circumstances beyond their own control, as they know Nana will never kick them out if they follow her rules which were very simple.
No long distance phone calls and if you are going to stay out late, you better call and let her know for Nana expected them to follow certain house rules that weren’t too strict but kept them accountable to her and let her know where they were and when are they coming home. Nana didn’t care if you paid her for food or room or board but she did appreciate it when they did which was seldom. Often freeloading until they have worn their welcome out, Nana had plenty of room to keep them safe and fed. It was not unusual for one of the kids to spend the entire weekend there so they can play or socialize with other members of the family their own ages during that time and give their parents a little time off from them and enjoy the weekend as well. A heart filled with valor, he did instill pride and integrity in his work ethics and business relationships. Owning his own business and having the heavy equipment needed to get the job done, he often helped other families make ends meet when money was tight and food was running low. Margaret, always a caring individual would often send needy families baskets of food when the whenever she or her sisters knew of someone in need of food or other things to get by.
In time, his jealousy and controlling moods have dampened the spirit of the familia and its breaking them up little by little. Not always a caring husband or father, he was home every night and a hard worker who supported his family the best way he knew. The only time I got to go out was with a relative who would chaperon or with the whole family”. He was so mean to my mother; I couldn’t stand him at times. He would fight other men who disrespected their wives but he would never stop abusing my mother. Margaret and Pancho lived on a busy street near downtown Mesa in a big brick house that, according to Margaret, they had their eyes on buying while they were still in New Mexico. In their front yard stood a lemon tree that supplied many gallons of lemonade for the family and everyone who visited them during the citrus growing season. It didn’t work out quite that way. “Margaret, is that you” Pancho’s voice boomed. Pancho demanded. You disrespected me Pancho, I am a grown woman!” Margaret asked knowing her sons were listening closely to every word spoken. Pancho relied “I guess so.” Abel replied. Fearing a heart attack, Margaret begged Pancho to settle down a bit and get a part time hobby to relax him a little bit more. In response to this caring plea, Pancho settled down a bit and started going to the casino more with Margaret and her sisters to kick it back a little bit and enjoy life. Paying particular attention to his prescriptions, she could tell his heart was not working right and asked him many times if he had any chest pains or numbness in his arms recently. Ironically, it was during this recuperation time period he became more civil towards his grandkids and found them to be a joy to be around with since he now had the time to enjoy himself a little bit more than when he was working. Things are not going well for Javier and him losing his job as an electrician has placed a heavy financial burden on him and his family. Not wanting to stay and watch his father being worked on in the hospital room, he chose to drop in and out so he could deal with his emotions of possibly losing his father. Marissa, calling him and Abel often to tell them the doctor wanted to talk to them so they can have a sound treatment plan, became frustrated of both of them being unavailable whenever the doctor wanted the family to make a decision.
All we could do was pray that the familia never have to make any of those decisions that would end Pancho’s life. Javier called his sisters first then the brothers and then finally, the aunts and uncles patiently waiting in the room next door. The loss of their father and Tata left the Hernandez family in mourning for days. Margaret, struggling with the fact that her life long partner was gone, leaned on her sisters and two daughters to overcome the grief and resettle her life with some kind of order after his passing was about a month old. Easy money, little time invested, he gave Rosa spending money as she came by to drop off the kids for the weekend. “Enjoy my love”, this is for you.
Margaret was cleaning her house as she does almost daily when someone knocked on her door. The tall Hispanic looking man, speaking with a pleasant voice turned to her and asked if Javier lives here was a tall man with a gun on his side and a pair of handcuffs on his belt. With a surprised look on her face Margaret spoke softly and said to the man “no he doesn’t live here.” Sadly, Margaret realizes her son is in trouble with the law, just like her other son, and she worries he will be sent to prison, just like Robles. Word spread quickly on the street following the visit by the US Marshal at the house. For years, Javier had dabbled a little in the dope business, mostly for himself, his brothers or friends but never did he engage in such a business as of lately. The boys, now talking to each other about Javier’s situation realized the reasons why Javier was away for so many times and going to some places to pick up drugs and bring them back to Arizona for resale or recreational use. Wanting to come clean and give himself up, he called his brother Abel and asked him if he knew a good lawyer who could help him turn himself in. Between losing his father and losing his wife, Javier’s life had changed dramatically and his inability to handle this change caused him pain. (Ephesians 5:11), she decided it was time for her to enjoy life again and go out and do things to make her happy once more. Family gatherings were difficult with the void of the boys being together and the loss of Pancho as the family patriarch was sorely missed.
Dreadful of the inevitable, she began to spend more time with her mother and took her out of the house more often than before so she could see more of the world with less time to enjoy her most grateful gift of life by God and those who loved her so much they would sacrifice their own time to spend it with her, taking care of her and blessing her with their love, their respect and giving her the dignity she so much deserved. Taking full advantage of taking care of her ni±os and ni±as, she offered every one of them a place to live if they didn’t have their own place or if they were in need of some special help from Nana.
Looking back to their relationship, Margaret realized that her sisters and her mother had naturally bonded as closest friends. A mother wishing for her daughter’s happiness is often the same thing a daughter wishes for her mother. Most mature mothers enjoy the responsibilities of motherhood, while some immature mothers bond to their children so much that they destroy them. Margaret recognized her mother as a mature individual who cared and raised her and the others in a most natural way. Margaret and her mother grew closer over time as she only lived a few miles down the road so she could take the time and visit her almost everyday, taking turns with her other five sisters as she knew she could not visit her everyday but made sure someone did check on her as she was a most precious important person in the family, especially at her age. Always taking the time to ask her how she felt and if she needed anything, it was mostly in her later years that Margaret began to ask more questions about her life that she didn’t know. Doing whatever she had to do to make it and take care of her family. By the grace of God, In March of 1958, Nana Josefa survived a profuse hemorrhage and with the attention of her family and prayers keeping her safe, she continued to life a most colorful and vigorous lifestyle. In May of 1998, Nana Josefa chose to have a uterine prolapsed surgery and was diagnosed with cancer. The family, gathered inside the house, gathered for prayer weeks prior to the surgery. Nana Josefa had radiation treatment for 3 months. In all actually, we had no idea how much great-nana Josefa struggled and overcame all those obstacles in her life. Never regretting taking the time to ask so many questions, she was happy she had the chance to talk to her about her life and grow old together as well as getting closer together. Cuca’s daughter Angie, remember a lot of good stories inside that house and as she shared some of them with the family re can remember growing up with her mom, and her brother David spending all our summers at Nana Josefa’s home on Pasadena Street. They had very good memories of both Nana Josefa and Tata Pilar and all our cousins from Arizona. In 1980, Angie moved to Mesa, Arizona and had the pleasure of spending much time with Nana Josefa because her mom, Cuca living with Nana. She told me stories, her thoughts, her prayers for family. Thank God Nana Josefa didn’t take medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. In the fall of 2008, Nana Josefa began to spit a lot. Marissa, and other family members, dedicated to take good care of Nana, took turns that week spending the days and nights with her. As Nana Josefa’s strength improved, she fought everyone. The doctors told the family there were options. The family, noticing she had stopped eating and drinking water became gravely concerned for her health. Margaret sent for the priest as the rest of the family, gathered there in this most solemn occasion, held hands and prayed the Lord’s Prayer. Concerned, she hurried over to the house and together with her sisters for prayer. Unable to talk to anyone in the family at this moment, Margaret was silent and concerned about her mother as she couldn’t even talk to her sisters or children until she was back under her normal self control she so maintained during the death of her husband and other family members. All we can really recall from that emotional conversation was Josefa asking where Margaret was at a couple of times. Walking inside the house that served the entire family as their home for many decades, Margaret looked around at all the photos that Cuca had posted on the walls and dressers for every sibling and every family member to see as well as displaying every knick knack that was in the house as we grew up as children and young adults. Wanting to cry some, Margaret wandered off a bit from everyone and prayed in peace to God to relief her mother’s suffering and pray she goes in peace. When it was all over, the family thanked Jesus for giving the family the opportunity to have these gatherings and honor Nana Josefa existence in life.
Again, Marissa helped tremendously with the funeral arrangements. Family members by her side, Margaret walked up to the coffin slowly and with tears in her eyes, she began to slump her head with rivulets of tears that everyone noticed as she had been one of the strongest girls there and mostly composed most of the time. Her sons, holding her up and finding a seat for her in the first row of the service hall, Margaret cried and cried hard for this would be the last time she would see her mother’s face. Thinking that the hardest part was coming to the church this morning, Margaret realized quickly it was leaving her behind that was the hardest thing to do. Wanting to stay and remain with her and staying there as long as she could, she realized that she had to join the others at her mother’s house to gather and meet with all family friends and all those who knew her.
The Mariachis played their music and familia gathered laughed loudly to celebrate this event. It is natural for your familia or your loved ones who experience death to ask the question “why?” in a time of pain and sorrow. Not really accepting the fact written in the Bible in Ecclesiastes 3, the Holy Bible King James Version says: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. God blessed Nana Josefa with an abundance of life and family. Nana Josefa and all of the family have taught each others about the kindness of family and how important it is to always have strong faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Sitting on the front porch of Nana’s house there stood the lemon tree Pancho was always having the kids climb in the front yard. Life has been hard for Margaret as she reflects back to her existence in a world that must have seemed cruel and unforgiving. There was another advantage of having the kids stay with Nana as she was very traditional and spoke mainly Spanish to her children and now the grandchildren. Never a bother, Nana would always take the time to explain the better things in life as well as enlighten the children why she does things the way she does to make it better such as cooking or cleaning and making it more sanitized or cleaner by using the tools of the trade and sharing the purposes with them as they join her in her daily tasks to keep the house clean or make the food for others to eat. Nana didn’t just teach them how to cook or clean; she taught them the Bible and the importance of religion in their lives. Setting up the children’s moral codes and values, Nana was their teacher in life. On any given Saturday, you would find at the least, three to seven children playing at Nana’s house. No wonder all her kids wanted to bring their children over for a lesson in life by the master of the familia. Nana was the ultimate diplomat in her house and controlled her environment with a tender heart and a stern but beautiful voice.
Sometimes, if the chores were done and the house was still, she would sing to her grandkids lullaby’s that put them to sleep and give her a well deserved break from the hustle she enjoys whenever they are at her house. In case you haven’t noticed it yet, Nana is the main source for day care for the familia who trust her without reservations and never has any questions on whether she is qualified or not to take care of their kids. Day care teachers are required to have child development certificates or training in physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth in child development framework that coincidently already exists within the Nana of the familia. Living with Nana normally ensure the children of growing up in a kind, loving and non abusive environment as everybody who knows how Nana is, will never do anything to get Nana mad at them or violate one of her rules of never hurting a child. Sometimes children have nightmares after a serious car accident or maybe somebody in the house got ill or injured because of something that was hard to explain but Nana, never butting in intentionally, always makes sure they are taken care of with compassion and love that reassures them everything is okay. Nana is quick to recognize anger within her kids and never hesitates to discuss this matter with their parents. One of Nana’s pet peeves is watching television. Today, television viewing consumes most of the kid’s day as they spent more time watching television than attending school or being in the classrooms. Whenever the kids are at Nana’s the very first thing she asks them is “do you have any homework?”
Anniversaries, birthdays, special occasions and special events were the specialty of the youngest of the family who lived right across the street from Nana. Born many years apart from her other siblings, Marissa lived a spirit of her own and never once were there any doubt she was the focus point of her family and how they lived. Seeking the highest standard of living for her children and her husband Daniel, she struggled hard to complete her GED and find a good job to help support the family. Learning quickly, she managed to get in front of most of the family politics and eventually became the executor of the family affairs just like she did her own. Looking for a house to live in, they found a nice home about five miles from her mama’s house that was a five bedroom home with a big yard and Daniel was very happy that the rent was very reasonable and the driveway was perfect for his car projects which he couldn’t do when he lived in those fancy apartments across town. Living across the street was a definite asset to her plans of working at the hospital to establish herself as a needed Margaret to take care of her kids as she worked long hours to establish herself as an aggressive manager who took care of business regardless of what time of the day it was or even on weekends, she was available for assistance to the management team. A millennium generation child, she picked up things quickly and knew how to use that to her advantage in both work and life. Her children adored Nana and there were times when they didn’t want to leave Nana’s house which was only fifty feet away from their own. Trickery was necessary to keep them from living at Nana’s house all the time and whenever it worked, they would hurry across the street and join the rest of the family. The first was the kids could stay with Nana when not in school and the second was that because Daniel worked the graveyard shift, they could stay at Nana’s after school and eat dinner there before their mama gets home. Obviously the youngest would stay with Nana all the time Daniel was asleep or Marissa was at work and she loved every moment of being spoiled by Nana almost every day of the week. Needless to say, this made it very difficult for the little one to go home at night as she thought she belonged at Nana’s house where she spent most of her time and sometimes, getting her to cross the street took a lot of manipulating to get her to accept her own room and her own bed to sleep in. The bonding between Nana and these kids were enormous and delicate to some degree because of the difference in methods Nana and Marissa raised their children. This also happens when mommies bring the kids over to Nana’s house whenever it seems they can’t handle them and chooses to let Nana deal with it instead of them.
The oldest was an entirely different situation as she was Nana’s namesake and milked Nana from every emotion there was. Growing into a traditional family, the happiness came to an abrupt halt when Marissa got ill and went to the hospital to get checked out. Other family members were immediately contacted by Daniel, who was panicking and totally lost in his mannerism as he could not handle this stress very well. Veronica calling her incarcerated brothers Robles and Javier told them of the complications and asked Carl if he could do something to get Robles out on an escorted furlough to see his younger sister. Needing money to pay for the escort, Crystal lends Margaret some money to pay for the occasion. Hours later, someone from the prison called Veronica and told her Robles couldn’t come either because of his high security risk and gang membership in the community. Margaret, appreciative of the attempts, focused on her daughter and stayed by her side to comfort her and Daniel through this time of need and sadness.
The family gathering one by one and accumulating to dozens being on the same floor and the same waiting room began to comfort Margaret as she had just survived the passing of her mother about four months ago and now dealing with losing her youngest daughter. Frantically, Margaret and Veronica ask for a doctor and ask him what other treatment they can do to save her. Hours prior to her passing she spoke to her mama and Daniel privately and asked Margaret if her oldest child could stay with her and raise her as her own so that she would have a maternal influence in her life. In agreement, Margaret shares with Veronica , the two of them will need to make arrangements to take legal custody of her oldest when the time comes to take care of the business after all the other things have been resolved or settled. The family in mourning, people from all throughout, they came to pay their condolences as the funeral procession drove by the house of Nana and across the street, Marissa’s for the last time taking a look at life in the barrio where death has become a way of life for the Hernandez and Parra families as of late. As a result, food bypasses a large part of the stomach and most of the small intestine
Margaret, realizing this as a viable option to help raise her, filed for her benefits and had the check come to her house so she could use the money to raise Margarita and give her the things she needed as a middle school student and as a teenager growing up quickly. This transformation from mother to grandmother was a little bit easier than expected as Margarita already spent most of her time with her Nana when she lived across the street. Nana told her “An idle mind is a tool of the devil.” Veronica nodded her head and agrees knowing that her mother and she will be dealing with things that will certainly raise their blood pressure at times. Starting all over in raising a child, you need to know what influences her in her life and what she talks about. Margaret, never once used the computer and has bought Margarita one for her pleasure and school work. The child dream constantly about her mother and wants her back into her life. Spending a lot more time at school than at home, she becomes curious and researches things that interests her on the computer. Margaret, interjecting her thoughts, tells her “Mija, we care about you and love you, and we want to keep you safe.”
Margaret and Abel are in a deep discussion about his health as the pain has been constant and the medicine is not helping him any longer. Spending some time in jail hampered any treatment and his stint in prison delayed some urgently needed chemo that the state wouldn’t pay for thus also delayed until he got out of prison. Never holding a grudge against his ex-wife for suing him for back child support, he had to work off his debt by making payments and going to prison to get credit for time he served and payments he made. Fixing cars and working on the family cars saved a lot of money as the cost of a mechanic was outrageous. Abel mechanically inclined preferred to work on the engine, suspension and transmissions; while Frankie worked on the finer things such as the electronics or electrical system shorts or computer malfunctions. Ironically, whenever these two worked on a vehicle, it was fixed and fixed quickly. These two boys are like oil and water and never ever agreed on anything thus when they worked together, they never worked side by side and arranged their schedule so only one would be doing the work while the other took a break or work on something else away from each other. Margaret was getting tired of having a used car lot at her house and told the boys no more fixing cars at their house. Slowly, they finished the ’67 Nova first and regrettable, because of hard times, they ended up selling the car to a complete stranger who offered them premium money for the classic. Frankie, realizing he had made a mistake, said softly “I sold it son, we needed the money to finish this car here”. Family will never fail you and even if they do there are terrible consequences for those individuals who do, but forgiveness is always almost given. Yes, to the Parra and Hernandez relatives, family is life. This family is known to support the contributions of life and counter the adversities life provides us with curses and challenges that take the breath away from one but that is covered by the other, always making sure, the family is intact and together. The Hispanic families, in a large degree separated from the Anglo or other ethnic families are a much more close-knit family and as demographic models will show, they will cluster their homes or places to live among those who support them in their own culture, their own traditions and their own social expectations resulting in new communities developing throughout the United States with particular focus on border states and industrial areas looking for workers.
The Hernandez family is no exception to what is happening throughout other Hispanic families who are experiencing an explosive issue related to the family way of life, parenthood and other social norms in marriage and retaining the order within the family. An interruption of family relationships affects the children’s upbringing and disrupts its normal functions. It appears that Nana and Tata’s influence has been diminished in some and remain intact in other families. Nana knows the strength and stability of their families relies on their ability to maintain their progress in their educational attainment and other cultural influences including the governmental and civic establishments that rule the laws they live by. Fearing retaliation and discriminatory treatment of her children and grandchildren, as long as their family values do not assimilate into the majority culture which in this case is the Anglo influences and pressure to deal with immigration in this border state. Knowing first hand the family values in Mexico have eroded due to poor economic conditions and high unemployment, they are seeking a new life in the United States, she admits she has seen many families and friends end up in a wreck and ruined because of pressures unreal and unhealthy in a family setting. Many families coming over here are having problems with drug and alcohol usage, music transitions and most of all, the fact that many of the minor children in the families won’t participate or go to church anymore is disturbing to her. Sitting down and talking to her children of her concerns, she fears these family breakdowns are causing them additional pressure to break away from their parent’s traditional mores and breaking relationships with their extended families with the adoption of a new style of individualism that is imposed by the new culture, the new music and the new environment where they live. Wanting to ensure her family survives and maintains their traditional culture and happiness, she swears she will not allow them to be corrupted by the descending cultural trend within the community and possibly destroy the family. Nana confesses that she has given her family values too much credit for keeping things in order or intact as she knows there are many other factors that control the outcome.
Having been married to Pancho for over fifty years before he passed away, she has seen the demise of family relations and realizes the family cohesiveness and the closeness she was once exposed to are no longer as strong as before. Nana thinks this new Arizona immigration law is “a bad law.”Pressured to attend the funeral of his father by his family back home, he says he has not seen his father since he was eight years old. Losing his wife, and his family for going back, he had to start over. Margaret, sitting on her front porch notices her good neighbors across the street are packing up their belongings. Turning to her granddaughter who is friends with the family she says “Why are they leaving mija?” Margarita, showing distress as it seems to bother her a lot more than Nana, says to Nana “Nana, her parents are here illegally and they are afraid the cops will come and put them in jail for being here.” Frankie, sharing the conversation says to his mother, “There are good people and there are bad people here mama. Although not spoken out loud, they often conduct charity fund raisers and sell hand made arts and crafts to support the cause to provide families, legal or illegal with the type of community support the church is well known for and Nana supports such interest group with all her heart. Nana questions the timing of such law as she is heartbroken of its impact in her neighborhood and what she is seeing on the television with large groups protesting the law and calling Arizonians racists as well as accusing the police of racial profiling in doing their jobs. This subject has been at the heart of some discussions whenever the family gathers and sits around to chit chat about current events or recent happenings in the neighborhood or house. Margaret hangs her head and says “¡ Oh mi Dios, first his father, now the son” referring to her son Rose and her grandson David.
Never been schooled with a proper or formal education, she not only tells good bedtime stories but gives good advice on her own knowledge where she demonstrates her life skills in real time and accuracy focusing on her ability to guard her grandchildren in accordance with the family needs and society’s evils. Lacking the proper schooling she learned many things from her family’s traditional heritage and customs. Looking bewildered, Margaret stares at the ceiling and says out loud “oh God, I can’t lose this house.” Lost for words, Abel says ” I thought it was a done deal and they approved the new payments?” realizing they may have fallen into a trap by the bank, Veronica starts pulling out all the paperwork on the loan papers that allowed them to make smaller house payments. Panicking to some degree, she asks her mama, “where are the rest of the papers mama?” shaking with deep emotion, Margaret is praying for guidance and strength as she fears losing her home where all her kids and family come to be safe and warm and fed. Confused, Veronica calls for Abel to come and explain this to her mama and show her what happened to her bank. Abel, searching the internet to show Margaret what Veronica and the bank are talking about pulls up an article concerning the latest news on Countrywide loans. Out of the blue, the mood has changed and Nana is upset about the future and how it will turn out if she loses her house which has been her sanctuary and retreat for a very long time now.
Being a large family and always ready to celebrate any occasion, Margaret and her brothers, sisters and kids always prepare themselves for the weekends of such special days so they can re-arrange their activities to commit to being available to have fun. Growing up each and everyone of the children in the Hernandez family had at least one chance to have a party that had a pi±ata as part of the festivities as the kids loved this opportunity to hit a figure stuffed full of candies, fruit, small toys and other goodies. children knocked the figure hard with sticks of various colors, candies spilled forth. Laughing and enjoying her time with the children is what’s its all about on days when things are so complicated and hectic. Having two sons in prison, a brother almost getting out of prison and two young grandsons going into prison, her heart is in turmoil and sometimes loses its way to reality. For living with the reality of losing her family is heartbreaking and troublesome for Nana who cares so much about her family. Margaret, realizing the most difficult part is the lack of control in respect to family relationships. Not wanting to push the others out of her life, she knew she still had a duty and obligation to take care of the family. With this increased level of toleration, she managed her days better and sought other ways to continue her relationships with incarcerated family while focusing on those free and living in her house. Loving all unconditionally and wanting the family to be close knit, sought to bring them all into her circle of life rather than kicking them out of the circle. This made everyone more comfortable and feels at home as they came to visit her and spend quality time with her and the rest of the family members. Remaining loyal to the family and its needs, the Hernandez family remained close and spends lots of time with each other. “Having an unconditional connection with all her family members is what matters” she thought to herself. Thinking back when the boys worked for their father, she thinks of the loyalty involved in their relationship with Pancho. Loving blood is very important and perhaps Pancho didn’t quiet experience it when he was young. . Knowing that holding onto a conflict filled relationship with other family member is not fruitful, she changed her ways of thinking just a bit to comprehend things better and enjoy herself a little bit more than before. Enjoying life includes celebrations and recognition of personal achievements and family successes. Walking into Margaret’s house one would see the shrine she has developed for every individual or person of her family, past, present and future. The walls, decorated with pictures of every member of the family and extended family, covers entire placards of photo frames, drawings, souvenirs and other knick knacks that resemble, remind or remind Margaret of people she knows, places she has been and accomplishments done. Trying out a new machine he just bought to start his part time job of steam cleaning carpets in people’s houses, he anxiously asks her for permission to move the furniture around and do the front room carpet first. Nana impressed with his good work smiles and makes him something to eat while he is wrapping up the cord and putting his machine away in his Chevy truck. Satisfied he did a good job, he tells her “if you know anyone who needs their carpet cleaned, I charge 20 bucks a room Nana. ” Both agree as Jacob sits down on the couch and enjoys the burritos Nana made for him while he was working. Keeping the tradition of living close to his Nana and his father, Jacob and wife, sharing their three kids with Nana are always available with helping others set up birthday parties and other festivities as they have close friends that rent those air balloon water slides, moon bounce, bounce house, and other gadgets for kids during parties.
Marissa was really crazy about having these things at her kids parties as these things were have close friends that rent those air balloon water slides, moon bounce, bounce house,and other gadgets for kids during parties. Paying about 435 dollars for a 6 hour day, the kids loved these things and kept them occupied so the parents can also enjoy their day as well. One time, Marissa and Veronica were planning a birthday party for Alexis, Veronica’s granddaughter when they came up with the idea of having the party in the park near the house, Nana, loving surprise parties got wind of these plans and said she would help make the food and decorating as she just finished telling the it would be nice to use the park for it has shade, a barbeque grill and trees where they can string the pi±ata after everybody is done eating. Veronica, Carl and Nana, quietly turned around and finished hanging the pi±ata so the party can begin. Veronica asking discreetly “what permit?” The morning was up in a rouse, and the house was in turmoil as Marissa’s kids that have been staying in Nana’s house for the past five days are now leaving and headed for Disneyland in California. Somewhat sad, but also a little bit relieved, Nana helps fix them a good breakfast as they pack their clothes into the suitcases they brought when they were dropped off. Coming out with a hamburger in his mouth, he tells Margaret if she needed anything causing Nana to shake her head telling him no, “I need nothing hijo, just be careful out there.” Just about the time he takes a bite out of his second hamburger, Veronica and Carl walk in and gives hugs to everyone in the house including the kids they saw coming out of the house with Daniel herding them into his SUV. Seeing Margaret and Frankie sitting at the table talking to Abel about something they were working on, Carl handed Frankie a set of keys and handed another set to Margaret telling them ‘˜the truck is outside and these keys are for you so you can get to work and drive yourself Frankie.” The big white work truck well kept and clean only needed tires as the tires that were on there were good enough to last for 6 months. Margaret, offering to pay the 500 dollars difference as Carl had made an offer for 2,000 dollars told Henri, if Art would sell the truck to Carl for 2,000 dollars, she would pay them the other 500 dollars to make it come out to the amount he was asking for and giving Frankie a good work truck to get to work everyday. Veronica, telling her mother on the cell phone she just left Art and Henri’s house and was told by her Tia Henri that Margaret was going to come up with the difference of $ 500.00 dollars to make it even. This way, Art gets his money and Frankie gets a truck. Wanting to take that shower and get cleaned, Frankie disappears as Carl and Veronica join Margaret inside where it is nice and cool and where Veronica can finish paying the bills that are due at the end of the month. Margaret, taking the phone bill and looking at the summary yells out, “who made these collect calls?” Upset, she tells Veronica to call the phone company and change the number so whoever is calling collect will no longer be able to do so anymore. Suddenly, she tells Veronica, “no mija, don’t change the number, the boys can’t call me from prison if I change it.” Veronica thinking quickly, says to Margaret “just write the boys and tell them the new number and it will fix this problem”. They will only lose a couple of days that they can’t call but it will fix the problem with these other callers who are abusing the phone service here and not paying their share telling her niece to tell her boyfriend to stop accepting collect and to give her Nana some money to pay for her collect phone calls. Laughing and enjoying her carefree lifestyle, she has been mooching off Nana now for quiet some time since quitting her last job because her employer wanted to change her work schedule that would conflict with her taking care of her child. Ferrying herself between her room and Abel’s room to work on the computer, this girl is wasting her time loafing and living off others to get through this particular part of her life. One has to pay attention that Nana rarely eats an entire or complete meal unless she is eating out. Having her favorite places to eat, she does not like to eat out at Mexican restaurants and often, if she does eat carry out Mexican food, she criticizes the ingredients or quality of the food and compares it to her own cooking style. Once the word has gotten out Margaret has made some menudo or posole, it is a guarantee other family members will flock to the house to get a sample of her recipe and take some home if they come in time to gather up an extra bowl or so. needless to say, Menudo is often referred to as a poor man’s food. Essentially considered to be a poor people’s food, menudo is a common food, for social events where it is shared with many others. According to Nana, this meal has been served many times to in celebrations and other events for many years.