My maternal grandmother was a migrant worker; she was born in Florida, as her family traveled all over the country to work in the fields, wherever there was work that was where they would be. She was the youngest of 12 children and when she reached the eighth grade, she was forced to drop out of school to help pay the bills. Today she has her master’s degree working alongside the Gang Task Force Unit of Merced County. My paternal grandfather owned his own Migrant Center for the traveling workers;
he came from a low income household and worked hard to better the lives of others. However that’s not the point. The reason I am giving a background of my family’s occupations is to give you a sense of how I was raised. Both my parents were raised differently than their own parents, privileged because their parents wanted to give them more than what they had. Though I have also been raised in a very privileged manner, but also reminded that hard work is everything.
The thing that disappoints me the most is as new generations grow older culture is lost, the heritage is lost. Being the oldest child in my home I was the only child who learned Spanish, the only child taught to cook traditional plates, and the only child taken to Mexico to meet my family. Now that I am older I understand the frustration that older generations have. I want to gain more of my culture and share it with my younger brothers, because I remember going on trips with my grandparents and meeting other elderly people but not being able to communicate with them, sitting there awkwardly, or have them ask me if I knew the story of the “La Llorona” (an old Mexican tale). I wish I was able to carry on old traditions or tell my brothers the old myths and ideals. Whenever someone in the family is sick, the first thing anyone does is call my grandmother because she has all the “Mexican remedies.”
In truth it seems as if traditional views and culture are steadily dying as the modern world advances. I cannot imagine what the culture was like when my grandparents were children, the amount of traditions passed down, how involved they may have been with other Mexican families. After all, that is what heritage right? Something inherited or acquired, whether it be from family, friends, or neighbors they had everything. Today the Mexican inheritance tends to be Mexican American inheritance, even in Mexico most kids want to have all the latest and coolest items Americans have. I once went to mexico to visit an old friend of hers that was sick, the house was very small, and the walls made of cement, it was a very cold and dark space but as I walked in and saw what they were eating I wanted to leave. I was very young at the time, but that was no excuse for me to act the way I did, I remember telling my grandma I wanted to leave because I was uncomfortable, truth was I was just being a brat. As time passed sitting in the cold house I began to loosen up. I was offered what looked like burnt beans and some mixture of peppers and meat, I refused stating I wasn’t hungry but when everyone could hear my stomach growling I had no other choice, to my surprise the food was amazing, the best Mexican food I had ever eaten and asked for seconds. As I listened to them reminisce I heard the stories of how they were raised as opposed to the children now, I became a little irritated that I was seen as too privileged. However, as I reflect on how much they were truly right, I become ashamed, because I know little to nothing about Mexicans, my heritage, or where I came from, and I find that absolutely embarrassing. The worst part is, I know that I am not the only person feeling this way; I know I am not the only person who has lost touch with their culture, with whom they are or where they came from. So I wonder, where did all the different heritages go?