My mother says she didn’t think we would live
(neither one of us)
when she was pregnant with me,
as she struggled to survive
in the jungles of Peru.

She had gotten married one day out of the blue
as a way to escape the memories
of a sad childhood,
and she ended up, instead,
living in poverty,
married to a man who was a mama’s boy,
an only son
and my mother was,
in his mother’s eyes
not good enough
for him.

So, my mother lived
with a mother in law from hell
who would rather feed the dog,
than feed her,
and nine months pregnant,
my mom weighed
ninety pounds,
and in her mind there was no doubt
we were both
going to die.
But we both lived.

We survived, probably because my mom,
almost delirious with fever,
walked by the river until she found a road,
and just as she was about to give up,
a car went by,
and she was able
to mail a letter to her mother
in which she said her goodbyes.

Just days later,
she was going into labor
when she opened her eyes
and saw her mother
standing by her side,
My mother says she thought she had died.
But it was true. My grandmother  was there
urging her to get up
because she was taking us home.
And my mom held on,
and prayed
more than anything that I
would not be born
in Peru
because having a Peruvian child
would have been my father’s pride
especially if I were a boy,
and she did not want to give him that.

And there I was…
a little baby girl
that barely weighed five pounds.
My mother says I looked
like a little bag of bones
and a pretty face.
She was just amazed
that we had both survived.
And we had.
And we did.

Throughout my life
my parents were
in and out
of a failed relationship.
My father seems to have been with us
only long enough to create three lives
and then disappear for years on end,
blaming my mother for everything,
but especially so
for me getting polio.

Having someone to blame
must have been his way
of washing his hands,
but then again….
who am I
to judge?

I only know what I was told
by his absence,
and by the story of how my grandmother
saved us …
and kept me
from being born
in Peru.

 

 

 

Copyright 2018 Maria R. Palacios

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