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The Long Lost Primo

I don't blog about myself on this site, but every once in awhile something reminds me that my own family is very much a part of this great border region.  As a storyteller, I know a great story when I hear one.   My dad's side of the family comes from Michoacan, Mexico.    As in most Mexican American families,  some families have riveting stories about how their grandmother's  and grandfather's made their way to the United States. Our story is harrowing to say the least, but I'll save that story for another time.

This post is about my long lost primo.  I'll call him,  Peter, to protect his identity although he gave me his blessing to blog this episode.

His father was one of my grandma's nine surviving children.   Grandma raised them in the barrio's of El Paso, Texas.    The story goes that my tío, Esteban, (as I'll call him here),  somehow ended up in the midwest with relatives.   (No one knows or will reveal all the details why or how that happened).

My tío was enrolled in school, and his last name was either misspelled or changed on his school records.   Fast forward to his adulthood,  my tío goes into the service and ends up marrying a pretty gringa.  (His misspelled name following him for the rest of his life).

He brings her home to meet his family and things don't go as planned.  (Once again, missing facts and truths about exactly what went wrong).    My tío has two children and when his wife is pregnant with their third child, he is diagnosed with cancer and doesn't survive.

The lady and her children disappear.   The family talks about them at family gatherings, but with so many other tíos and tías, and dozens of cousins, the story of the missing primos, fades into the past.

My abuela lives to be 96 years old, and miraculously her dying wish is granted.  She receives a phone call from Esteban's son, Peter, when he's about 45 years old.  He s searching for his blood family on his dad's side.   That phone call nearly gave one of my tía's an attack.   She thought it was a joke.

My tía invites Peter to an upcoming family reunion with his two sisters who meet the entire family.  There are hugs and tears everywhere!  Old black and white photos are strewn on the picnic table in the park and man oh man genes don't lie.   I said to myself,  "If I ever had a brother, wow, that's what he would look like!"

The embrace between Peter and my grandma is one I will never forget.   Imagine growing up, not even knowing you are of Mexican decent.      In the meantime,  our large extended family accept Peter and his sisters with love, affection, and stories about the father he never knew.     Peter  has since lost his mother, and my grandma is gone now too.   Only some relatives may hold the key to the mystery that surrounds his real life story.     I feel for Peter, and hope that he finds all the answers he is looking for to put his mind and heart at peace.

Who knows, maybe someday he and I will write a book or a screenplay about his ordeal.


The Border Blog