Irma Nava, a beautiful and strong woman

This is a picture of a Lake in Michoacan named Patzcuaro where people are always on boats trying to catch fish to eat. Public domain photo.

As I was walking, I made it to Texas safely. As I decided to take a break and eat a little, I saw a flashlight that was targeted at me, and it was coming closer and closer to me.

I was born in Michoacan, Mexico, stuck with 9 other siblings in the ranch. I remember the roosters always being my alarm in the morning, ready to go to work, climbing trees just to get my family food, and milking cows to make our family cheese.

My family and I were very poor living in Mexico. I grew up in a ranch milking cows and making tortillas from scratch to feed my whole family. I would work at age 11, cleaning restaurants and being a waiter. After work, I would always go outside and hunt for food from the forest, whenever we were running out. I would get my dad’s gun and hunt things like deers and cows. If we didn’t have enough food that day,  I would kill the chickens that we had.

There were a lot of gangs where I lived, and I would always be scared to walk alone when my mom would tell me to go to the store to get groceries. I lived a very hard life at the times when my mom was pregnant because she would starve, and it would be sad hearing that she lost her baby because of starvation.

The hardest moment for me was when my dad left us after abusing my mom and causing the miscarriage of another one of her babies. I tried stopping him, but he made me back away before he started hurting me. My 9 siblings and I stayed back and just cried and cried.

I would always think about how it would be like to live in the United States. I would hear stories about the jobs they had in the U.S and how well they paid people. My expectations were for it to make me less stressed and earn enough money for my kids in the future. I would make more money there, I thought, and send it back to my starving family.

I was 18 years old when the day came for me to leave my home and begin my pathway towards my dream. I packed everything I needed for my journey like water, food, and money. While changing into the only blue jeans that I had with a coat, I felt sad to leave the ranch I grew up in, but happy I was leaving from all the poverty.

I started walking alone towards LA to meet up with my friend, who had a car to take me the rest of the way. The smell of gasoline and marijuana outside always made me want to puke and made me sick. As I was walking, I made it to Texas safely. As I decided to take a break and eat a little, I saw a flashlight that was targeted at me, and it was coming closer and closer to me.

The police was there and asked for my papers, “What do you think you’re doing here? Do you have papers that I can look at?” I responded, “I don’t understand, no English.” He immediately took me in back of his car and deported me back to Mexico. They dropped me off somewhere in Mexico and I had to walk back home. I really had no idea where I was going, so I was walking wherever. I was crying on my way back because I was really scared what they were going to do to me, and if I would ever come back this long way.

As I was looking for my house, I found the bright yellow ranch with the lights on and the white minivan in the driveway. I walked in and hugged my mom. She took me to bed and I slept really warm beside her.

One week later, I decided to try again and take a car this time. I told my friend to meet me at my house and we will go on the journey together, so we did.

I remember my mom waking up in the middle of the night to say her goodbye to me.

Adios Hija, que dios te bendiga. Te Amo.” Goodbye daughter, may God be with you. I love you.

I smiled at her, gave her a tight hug, and started my journey for the second time, hoping to make it safe this time. I prayed while driving in the car, hoping God will answer my prayers. “Por Favor Dios, Por Favor cuídame y que todo va bien.” Please God, please take care of me and that everything goes well. As we were driving towards California, we decided to catch up on each other’s lives and make sure no guards were by us. We were extremely scared to continue our trip, but we decided to keep going to make our future in the United States come true.

It was finally time I arrived to LA and was now heading to EPA, where I would live with a family friend for a while until I started working to earn enough money to afford a house. I got some sleep and woke up the next morning to a dog bark. I got ready and ate really good food.

I remember the feeling of finally eating a lot after so many days of starvation. I closed my eyes after taking the first bite and enjoyed the taste of those delicious pancakes drizzled with sticking maple syrup. I remember my stomach actually feeling full after eating 4 pancakes and a side of fruit.

After having breakfast, I decided to look for a job and went walking around, looking to see if anyone was hiring. I went to my friends’ taqueria and saw that they were hiring, so I decided to get an application. I showed her all the food I can make and she decided to give me the job. I started the next day at noon. I was really happy to finally have a job in the U.S and start earning money to save up for a house.

Two months passed and it was a busy day at work. I was taking over the cashier and saw a guy who attracted me. I took his order and he told me his name. “Hola me llamo Juan Carlos.” Hi my name is Juan Carlos. I responded with butterflies in my stomach, “Hola me llamo Irma.” Hi my name is Irma. I gave him his food at his table and he asked me if I ever wanted to walk around with him, so I said sure.

We went to walk around and eat somewhere near his house. We became really good friends and decided to be more than that. We were dating for 10 years and were thinking about marriage now.

I remember the day he proposed to me, he got on one knee and told me how much I meant to him. He put the beautiful ring on me while letting my tears of joy out. While planning our marriage, I was having symptoms and decided to check if I was pregnant. It came out positive and later on I found out I was having a boy. I gave birth 2 months before my wedding and needed to quickly fit back in my dress.

After our wedding, we both decided to get an apartment for both of us and my son, and we continued working.

I am owning a house now and have a happy family with me, who have a good education and are finding their future as it comes closer to them. I am currently working with my auntie and some friends, cleaning houses and looking for a new job to keep my family in good shape. My husband is working in two jobs and we barely even see him nowadays. If we would want to catch up with him, it would have to be late at night when he comes from work, but usually that doesn’t happen because everyone is tired.

My motivation is my mom because I want to help her be healthy, as well as my dad, because I know it will break mine and the kids’ heart to see them in the hospital again. My husband and I recently got our papers and are now excited to visit our family back in Mexico. I am happy to call myself a U.S. resident.

This story was written by the immigrant’s daughter, Jasmin, a student in the Bay Area.

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