My bio mother e-mailed me this picture a few hours ago. She wrote that it might be a good idea to have it in case SS has questions about her family in the future. Here is the interesting thing, yes that is me ugly as always between my bio brothers. My bio mother is on the right. The rest are paternal relatives, the B's, people with whom I had no relationship whatsoever. As I have mentioned before, I do not have childhood pictures because my bio mother decided that once she passes on, we then can take possession of our past. Cool. What blows my mind is that if she wanted to send me on a trip down memory lane, why not send a picture of Mami and Papi? You know, that couple who raised me, loved me unconditionally and are responsible for whatever good is in me. As in the great-grandmother SS was named after. I know, crazy talk.
So let's meet the Bs. I have no idea how old I was on that picture, probably around one. On the right is my bio brother K, jail bird,physically abusive spouse, and law enforcement eluder extraordinaire. On the left is my bio brother J, the ultimate racist, who demands that his children only date African Americans, and renounces anything white.
Behind us is Mami L, the white grandmother J seems to forget is as part f his DNA as our black grandfather. You can't tell in the picture, but she was blond with blue eyes. There is a poem we studied in elementary school titled Y Tu Abuela Donde Esta? (And Where is Your Grandma?). I think about that poem whenever J goes on his racist rampages. The poem is about a little boy who is blond and has blue eyes and does not care for dark skinned people. Another child keeps reminding him about his grandmother who is not white. This is the case for us Puerto Ricans, we are not homogeneous by any means, and to claim one race based on phenotype is absolutely ignorant.
On the right side is my bio mother rocking the late 60s look. On the left side is Titi L, and behind her husband Tio P. Behind my mother is Papi A, the African dude, the one J recognizes as provider of his entire gene pool. The woman with the glasses is Mami J, Mami L's sister. I hope people are getting an understanding why I hated the way the title Mami was used as though it did not have any special meaning. Behind Mami J is Tio D, and he is the opera singer who has been living in Germany for over 30 years. I have no idea who is the man to the left of Tio D. My guess is that is probably Tio J, but that is just a wild guess. The older gentleman with glasses is Papi P, Mami J's husband. How is that for confusing.
Come to think of it, I should not be surprised by my secondary infertility. Both Mami J and Titi L were unable to have children. Mami J and Papi P pulled off the ultimate stunt in obtaining a child. Forget adopting a child, there were plenty of those. No, they volunteered to take care of brother K while my mother finished her nursing degree, you know to "help." Then once my mother graduated they refused to return him. Easy, breezy, peachy way to kidnap a child. Go B's! Mami L and Papi A raised brother J, and once again those parenting skills really made a life long impact.
The B's never cared for me and Mami L was jealous about my relationship with Mami and Papi. They were vile about my amazing parents, calling them animals and some other things I cannot repeat. On the occasions I was forced to be with the B family, I took a lot of spankings and smacks to the head. Also, Papi A's belt made quite an impression on my flesh. K & J were always begging me to be quiet, to let the insults go unchallenged, and I never listened. It is a horrible thing as a child to hear your parents criticized and brutalized in such a manner by a so called Christian couple. I always stood up for them and ironically, also for my bio mother. Even though she never returned the favor it did not matter. As a result, I shed more tears in that house than throughout my entire childhood. I am proud to this day that I stood up for Mami and Papi, they were poor, while the B's were upper middle class. The B's seemed to have it all, except love and warmth, those are two things I never found in their presence.
One time after a nasty spanking Mami J snuck into the room to try to console me. She pleaded with me to let the insults roll off my back, but at 5 I just did not have that control. OK, it did not change as I aged so I can't blame it on age. Mami J then sighed and stated that it was my bio mother's fault that they treated me so poorly. While I was by then well aware that I was not my mother's priority, I did not make the connection as to how she was to blame. Mami J told me that when I was born she counseled my bio mother to take me to my paternal grandfather, hand me over and say "Here A, here's the daughter you never had." My bio mother refused (best decision she ever made) and that is where their undisguised disgust of me began. Whatever...
When my bio parents divorced my bio father was court ordered to pay a paltry amount on child support. He never paid a cent, but Mami L and Mami J decided to clean up his mess. They each opened a savings account for the child they were raising and deposited the child support money that was never sent there. It was supposed to be for their future use and I have no idea (nor care) if they ever received the money. They conveniently forgot about me. One time I heard them discuss the omission and the reasoning was since Mami and Papi "got the girl, let them come up with the money." True, Mami and Papi could not fund a savings account for me, but they gave me so much more. They instilled in me a love of learning, reminding me that if I let a day pass without learning something new, it was a wasted day. They insisted on a bilingual education even when I wondered if my brothers and cousins were not bilingual (at the time), why should I be. Even more important, they taught me to love without regard to age, ethnicity, religion or other minutia that is a deal breaker to others. Without Mami and Papi I would not have the family I love and cherish today. My Caucasian (Catholic, younger) husband, my Chinese daughter, and my Puerto Rican son who is twelve years older than my daughter. I did not have a garage full of toys, nor did I engage in fun, expensive trips. What I did have was two wonderful role models who loved me and in turn, taught me to love. Plus I have never been in arrested (hard as I have tried), or in jail/prison.
SS, your Abuela wanted you to know about a side of me I have never discussed with you. So here it is, a quick rundown on why you have never heard about the B's. If there's something I learned from them is that it is unconscionable to use children as weapons or targets. Hope you are never disliked based on your parents' decisions.
On a lighter note, SS was practicing her sidewalk chalk writing skills Sunday. Don't know what made her write the L that way; still, made me smile.