My grandmother’s name is Rosá (name changed) she’s 63 years old born on May 18, 1960. She came to the US in 1979.
My grandma has always been private about her story of coming when she was 19. She doesn’t ever talk about it and she only mentions it if a part of her story has been brought up by my older cousins or my tias or tios.
Why did you want to come to California at such a young age?
She started talking about how when she turned 18 she wanted to see what the Country above her was like and she just met my grandpa at 17 and he talked about how he was going to be getting his citizenship soon. She was very excited for him even though she didn’t know if she wanted to leave her family behind. So, she told her mom Martha (name change) that she wanted to live in America with my grandpa. She thought my grandma was so crazy that she was like okay well, when you turn 19 we can see if you change your mind. But my grandma was so in love with my grandpa that she couldn’t leave him.
So after her 19th birthday, she knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to be with my grandpa and grow old with him in America. She told her mom Martha that this was her decision and it wasn’t going to change. December came and she was saying her goodbyes before she started to prepare for her hike to California. “I was scared Mija. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. I heard many stories that you’ll get caught or you’ll die out there but, all I wanted to do was be with him”. She said January finally came around and she was ready. She left around midnight to meet this guy who was going to guide a group of people to California. She didn’t know much about him, she just wanted to leave and get a new start. Then my grandma stopped. It’s like she was getting flashbacks or something. It seemed like she wanted to cry.
So, I changed the question to “Was there a language barrier? If so, can you share your story about it?” She seemed like there was more to her story than what she was telling me so I wanted to keep on changing her questions so she would be able to answer. After a couple of seconds, she answered that there was a big language gap, she never heard any English only from people who would travel there for vacation. Her main difficulty was she didn’t know how to speak English but my grandpa did since he has been picking up on some of the words from TV or the radio. But, after a couple of years, she began picking up on it, then, she began to work at an electrical company. She began to pick up more English from her coworkers. Mainly a lot of her coworkers were English-only speakers but her one dearest friend spoke Spanish. “But don’t let anyone discourage you from accomplishing something you want to do”.
My grandmother hasn’t thought of ever going back. She thinks this was the best decision of her life but, just not the whole trip through the mountains. She has always thought of going back because her siblings still live there, she usually goes back during the summertime to visit them. Her brothers never come here but her older brother lives here in the States which gives her someone closer to her family. Her most memorable experience was when she saw my grandfather waiting for her. When she saw him she knew that was the man she wanted to marry.