Because of My Grandmother Chela.
Interviewee:Erika Osorio,El Salvador.
Interviewed by:Jennifer Osorio
'"My grandmother for me was in that case will always be my mother"
When we would celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe in December, my grandmother used to dress me and my little sister up as Indians. We used to wear big long braids and colorful dresses that hid our legs. We had to walk to the church and the all the priests made an offering to the Virgin Mary. Later it was a big celebration around the church. To me I thought of it as an act to faith to the Virgin Mary.
I lived in the smallest county in Central America. It was called El Salvador. I lived 10 minutes away from the capital. I was born and raised in Santa Tecla. At times it was really hot whether. I was raised with my grandmother.My mother was working in the United States to bring money for us and my father wasn’t really there for me. My mother was never really married with my father. I had never met my father until I was 5 because my father didn’t really clarify I was his daughter. My grandmother for me was my mother. She taught me and my little sister how to cook, be very patient, and most important how to be independent. Thanks to her we are what we are today. Good motherhood, good wife’s, and have a successful jobs from the education she gave us.
When I was 6 years old, I used to like going to school. My mom [grandmother] she told me and my sister that you always need to go to school. She said this because without school you can never find a good job in my country. In all the jobs in my country you need to at least a high school diploma. Many people see if you care about what you want if you accomplish your goals, and dreams.
At the age of 14 1/2 I moved to the main city of San Francisco. The house had 2 floor levels but the bottom level people had already been renting it. It had 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, a living room that turned into an extra room, the kitchen next to it, and a deck to go to the backyard. By the time I came to live with my real mom, my mom had already been married. The walls were white as bones because my step dad didn’t really like to decorate a lot. Even though we sounded very pleased to live in the United States,our hearts were torn because we left the most important person back home,my mom [grandmother] [Thinks] But luckily a year later my mother decieded to send for my grandmother. My sister and I were very overwhelmed with happiness. From that day on my life became better. Our familywas complete. Next step for my sister and I was to start high school.
When I turned 16 years old I was a junior at Woodrow Wilson High School. High school for me was really hard for me because I hardly knew how to speak english. But the great thing that happened to me was that I usually get mixed up with African Americans because back then I used to have really dark skin. So I never in high school got into a fight with other people because the other African Americans came to protect there own kind. Months later, I met my first love. He was junior and he was R.O.T.C. class. He was very muscular and very handsome. When we used to date we kept it a secret because my mother didn’t really agree with me having a boyfriend in a young age. So you know I did some innocent fun. When he passed by my house he used to whistle at me when he was outside so I would know to ask to go to the store and pretend I was getting some things.[laughs]. A year later I graduated in the year 1982.
My life was changed completely because I never had any of these experiences before. It changed by giving me an opportunity to become well prepared for getting a better job, a better environment, and a better life. I started to work at Serramonte mall in Montgomery Ward. I met my now sister-in-law there. I met my husband off of her by him visiting Elizabeth [my sister-in-law]. Ever since it had been like 21 years since we met. He proposed to be after 5 years of dating. I was numb; I didn’t know to say I was very speechless But yet I said yes.
When I told my family I was engaged my grandmother always kept her jewlery and on that day she opended her jewlery box and she passes down a generation. She gave m a coin necklace that she had been holding since she was a chid.She thought it was time to pass down a generation of our family. Till this day on that necklace is part of my life and part of me. And it’s all because of my grandmother Chela. May her Rest in Peace.