I am Hispanic, the granddaughter of Aurora Gutierrez. She loved sitting on her front porch, gazing out over the Superstition mountains from her home in a copper-mining village in Arizona. This is the way I remember her. One day, she said, very seriously, “Mija, don’t let anyone say to you that you don’t seem Hispanic. You are my granddaughter; we are very proud of our heritage. You tell them, you tell them who you are.” Which could only mean one thing, she knows people don’t think I am Hispanic when they meet me. 😂
Sitting there on her porch, she most often wanted to speak to me about when she had to give my mother to her sister to raise. She cried about that every day, and it haunted her until the day she died.
My grandmother had a 3rd-grade education and grew up moving back and forth between Culican, Mexico, and Superior, Arizona. She was a “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II working in a factory in LA in her 20’s.
She had a love affair, as grown women do. She got pregnant, as is natural. Society was happy to benefit from her labor as an adult woman but chided her and ostracized her when she did the most natural thing in the world: she had a baby.
At the moment of giving birth to my mother, our conservative Mexican family felt compelled to take the baby out of her arms and scold my grandmother for her sin. She did not get a chance to bond fully with her baby; rather society wanted her to experience agony and guilt. And she did, for the rest of her life.
So while I was proud to be her granddaughter, and I loved her deeply, I have been angry with certain aspects of our culture, namely the Christian faith forced on the Native Indians of North and South America, which became a part of the mestizo culture of Mexican-Americans. That set of false beliefs and taboos about women’s bodies and sexual reproduction created so much unnecessary anguish. Witnessing that suffering turned me into the feminist I am today.
She spent her last few weeks in hospice in my home and died at the age of 96. The day before she passed, she asked for a sip of a margarita, so I made her one, and then we sang, and I danced around her bed, and howled the grita, and it was good to see her smile and her arms flowing along with the music one last time.
Stephanie Schull, Kegelbell Inventor and CEO