I’ve been sitting here, freaking out a bit to be honest, wondering what in the world to write my first blog post about. And as I freak out, a voice in the back of my mind says “write about your heroes”. I know this sounds cheesy at first, but the idea keeps nudging at me because of a recent Spanish assignment on the topic. The sad thing is, my heroes never even got the chance to know how much they mean to me. My heroes will never be famous, and few people will ever know about their accomplishments.
My mami and papi, my Bolivian grandparents, grew up in a poverty-stricken country, and my mami never even got to finish elementary school. Their marriage was arranged, and they worked their butts off from the time they were just teenagers in order to provide for the family they would someday have. Their lives were hard. My papi was a miner, and although the pay was relatively good, it could never make up for the damage it caused his body. When she was young, my mami would ride up into the Andes in the back of a truck to sell food to a bunch of rough, dirty miners. She attributed her arthritic knees to the hours she’d spend in the back of the truck in the freezing hours of the early morning. I’ll never forget how she’d always pile blankets onto my lap to keep me from getting bad knees like hers, or how my papi’s nails were black from coal until the day he died.
Everything that my mami and papi sacrificed, and all the hard work that they did, made it possible for my uncles and aunt to get an education and go to a university. As I approach the end of my undergrad career, I think about their sacrifices more and more. Had they not done this for my father and their other children, would I even be able to go to college? Probably not. Everything I have, and all that I am, I owe to them–and I never got to thank them.
My papi passed away in 2002, and the 28th of this month will be the one-year anniversary of my mami’s passing. Her death really solidified the necessity to get their portraits tattooed on my arm. Papi’s portrait was completed this past January, and Mami’s will be joining him on Thursday. I can’t help but tear up as I write this. I hope that, as they look down on me, they can see how thankful I am, and how having their beautiful faces permanently inked onto my skin is my way of thanking them and keeping them close to me always. Les amo por siempre Mami y Papi, mis heroes.