My Grandfather, Refugio Hernandez brought his wife and five daughters to the United States from Mexico in 1927 and settled in Richmond, California. He worked for the Santa Fe railroad. My Mom was 7 years old at the time. She missed her home town of Penjamo, Guanajuato pretty much her whole life. She would share stories about taking baths in the river, her cousins, her uncles and aunts. Although she missed all she ever knew at the age of seven, she loved going to school and learning English.
My Mom had a total of seven children and taught none of us Spanish. Her first four children were lucky to hear it spoken because of my Grandmother. Unfortunately, us last three didn’t because Grandma died when I was one. My oldest four siblings, two brothers and two sisters were from a different Father. The next two, a brother and sister were from a different Father. Me being the last, the baby by another Father.
She met my Father while she was working for his sister Lucy at La Palma in Richmond. When she married my Father she was told by his family that he was already married to a woman in Mexico, so she couldn’t be my Father’s wife. My Mother stayed with my Father and we all lived together for a short time. My Father was an alcoholic and left us because he didn’t want to hurt me or my siblings with his behavior from being drunk. He died when I was three years old.
As a baby girl I would see Spirits coming out of the closet. I would yell for my mother and she would tell me to shut up. The Spirits eventually stopped visiting me because of the yelling and anguished that it caused me. My mom would get mad at my brother David thinking that he was teasing me. He would tease me a lot, one day he was playing with matches in my room while I was in my crib that my Father had made. All of a sudden a fire broke out in my crib and my sister Rosalie had to save us and the fire department came to our house. My beautiful crib was ruined. To this day, my brother David still teasing all of us.
As strange as it may sound my earliest memory was the day President Kennedy was assassinated. I was 5 years old it was 1963. It was in the afternoon, I was let out of Kindergarten class and sent home. I didn’t want to go home I loved school. We lived right across the street from the elementary school. When I walked into the class I was confused about what was going on. My Mom was upset because our President was killed. The black and white television was on, I think there was only an ABC and CBS station. Walter Cronkite announcing that the Nation was in mourning. Showing over and over again the shooting. I was so sensitive that I began to cry. I don’t remember if any one teased me about it on that day.
My Mom raised us in the Catholic faith. My sister Jennie, David, my niece Mary and I would take the bus to catechism after school twice a week. I hated it. I didn’t like the way the nuns treated my niece, they were mean to her. She didn’t know her lessons and perhaps didn’t believe either? and because of it they would hit her. I remember seeing her walk out of her class crying. That would upset me we were all little children. Jesus loved us, they would tell us. This was how they represented this Love, God’s love?
These actions made me questioned the doctrine as a young child. I didn’t believe that I had any sins as 7-year-old. I didn’t like sitting in the darkness waiting for Priest to open the window to ask me, how long has it been since your last confession? Really how many 7 year olds sin? What is a sin? Why does the church have to make you afraid of God? I didn’t believe that if a baby died and wasn’t baptized it wouldn’t go to heaven. We had to go to confession every Saturday so we could take communion on Sunday during mass.
~ I am writing this book about Who I am. Danny is helping me with grammar and keeping me from choppy sentences and thoughts.