They got in the truck and drove off (recalling the day I was born)

I GOT A text message from my sister Mariana, saying she had thought about calling me to tell me about the day I was born but that she remembered that she’d already related the details to me. I responded, honestly, that my memory is so bad that I had probably forgotten most of it. And then I called her and asked her to repeat the story.

This is what she said:

It was on a Sunday and we were living at the Morewood farm (between Forest River and Minto, ND), and Tío Adrián and Tía Ester came to visit, with their only two children, Rodolfo and Noelia.

On Sundays, either they visited us or we went to the farm where they lived, so it was not unusual that they were there. But then suddenly, while we were playing outside, Papá y Mamá got in the truck and drove off. Tía Ester and Tío Adrian stayed behind with us.

They didn’t tell us why they were leaving, and after they left, nobody told us why they had left.

We didn’t know. We didn’t know anything about those things.

Later that night, Papá came back and told us that Mamá had had un hombre.

Un hombre? He didn’t say un bebito or un hombrecito. No, just un hombre. I pictured my mother coming home with un hombre, a grown man.

But a few days later she came back with you.

¡Que cosas! No sabía uno nada en esos tiempos.

I REMEMBER THAT because it was right at the end of the war, there were a lot of shortages, so Mamá had to make the corn tortillas. We would buy the corn and she would cook it and soak it and then she would grind it into a masa with a molino. It was hard work and she was nine months pregnant and she still did that! Until she got tired and asked me to turn the handle of the molino.

The same thing with the wash: She would ask me to help her empty the washtubs of dirty water. Why was she doing all that if she was so close to giving birth?

But nobody ever told us anything about babies and how they were born. They were just there all of a sudden.

SHE ASKED IF I remember the story of our cousin José, who one Sunday saw his mother (Tía Ester), washing clothes and remarked, “There she goes, washing again. Soon she’ll complain her legs hurt and she’ll go to the hospital and she’ll come home with another baby.”

Ah, yes: our age of enlightenment! (Thanks, Mariana, for remembering.)

About juanzqui7

Former Texas reporter, columnist and editorial writer.
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