There is a small group of us that walk to pick up our kids at school instead of queue up in the pick up line. I prefer to walk so I can smother my kids with hugs and kisses at the end of a long day of school. I also get a chance to chat with some of the other parents who also walk. Among this very small group of parents I have met a nice Mexican lady who also walks. And on Monday she invited me to her house to have some tamales that she made by hand.
Let me back up here and share that I have always believed that I was either part Mexican or Latina - having the talent to speak Spanish fluently and constantly wooed by all things Latin. So an invitation to have homemade tamales is like a call to prayer for me and I bundled the girls in the car and we went to make new friends.
This family lives in a small trailer that they inherited from a construction job her husband did. When he finished the work, the lady who contracted him could not pay him the large sum of money she owed him so instead she gifted him an acre of land and a single wide trailer she had been living in while the construction was going on. So immediately he became a landowner.
He and his wife and 3 kids have built up the property to include a 2 car garage, a playground, a koi pond, a landscaped back yard, a screened porch and chicken houses for at least 15 chickens and 15 roosters. She gave me a tour of their property and proudly explained to me that her husband had built everything himself. I was so impressed by his handiness. While the kids played outside we got to know each other over some of the best tamales I have ever tasted. And I got a chance to learn her story which is sad but not unlike many had working Mexicans in this country.
She, her husband, and their two older children are undocumented and so they do jobs they can do to get buy and operate on a cash only basis. She cleans houses and he does yard work. Their youngest child is a US citizen but due to the laws of each state changing it does not guarantee their safety from being deported. Both of the older children are college age but cannot enroll because they don't have social security numbers so their parents have urged them study trades so they can work while they hope that the laws change so they can apply for citizenship. They lost their licenses several years ago so they drive uninsured and unlicensed. And they have no bank accounts and they owe no one money. And they pray for good health constantly.
When I left their home I left with a big bag of tamales, a dozen fresh eggs and a huge feeling of shame for myself. I felt ashamed for spending so much time feeling sorry for myself and whining about hating this place. And resolve to try to make it better, at least for a few days.