When she was fourteen her mother use to leave her and her two sisters alone for weeks at a time, to go to work across the border. It hurt her mother deeply to do this, she cried and covered her ears and rushed around the corner so that she would not have to see and hear her children crying for her as she left them.
Little Irene had to take care of her eight year old sister Lela and little Maria who was two and half. Irene had to cook, clean, and take care of herself and her two sisters when her mother was away.
It was a big responsibility for such a young girl. Sometimes Irene would get scared and cry, but she wouldn?t let her sisters see her cry so that they wouldn?t get scared and cry too. They lived in a small one bedroom apartment with a dirt floor. They all slept together on a small bed to keep warm and feel safe. Sometimes they didn?t have enough food to eat.
It seemed like forever for the week sometimes two weeks to pass for Irene?s mom to come and visit. When their mom came she would bring food and candy, sometimes clothes, shoes, and something to play with.
Her mother did make hera promise that she would some day soon be able to take them with her to the other side of the border to live.
Irene?s mother worked for a policeman and his family as a maid, cleaning and caring for his children and he saw how hard Mrs. Saldivar worked. The policeman, Mr. Hightower, promised Irene?s mother that he would help her to bring her children to the United States some day soon.
And he did. The day came when Mrs. Saldivar and the policeman brought Irene and her two sisters to live in the United States of America. Irene was so happy. It was the happiest day of her life to be with her mother and sisters together again.
The two families lived together for a while the Saldivars and the Hightower?s while Irene?s mom found a place for her and her children to live.
That was a very nice thing the policeman did for Irene?s Family.
This brave little girl was my sister Irene.
And I was the two year old she had to take care of and I love my sister. She was my mommy when my mother was away: she fed me and cared for me when I was little.
I asked her the other day what was her most memorable childhood memory, her happiest childhood memory. She replied ?I don?t have any happy childhood memories? .
It made me so sad when she said that, I cried and wrote this story about her.
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Maria Reyna was born in Mexico Ms. Reyna is a painter, writer, poet, photographer, Artist and is currently working on writing childrens books for publication. And Community Activist for affordable housing and childcare. Mmiaculpa@aol.com