A Mexican family

In April of 2002, I became an insider of a Mexican family. It was the difference between night and day, the stuff I was privy too, things I heard. More than anything, less lying.

Mexicans are marathon liars, most of which are what we call fibs in English, little white lies, not fatties like Hitler saying he has no plans to invade Poland, that he’s okay with the status quo. But, more often than not, asking a Mexican a question will produce an answer the responder feels most comfortable with, regardless of its connection to reality.

The day before my marriage in April of 2002, I received one set of information from the kin. The day after, I received a contrary set, all relating to the same topics. The change was drastic. They stopped lying to me. And that continues to this day.

Well, mostly. Lying is deeply ingrained in the Mexican culture.

I can be standing right there when, for example, someone asks my child bride something. She responds. Moments later, the questioner departs, and she turns to me and says exactly the opposite. She’s telling me the truth while she told the other person what she felt most comfortable with.

Mexicans loathe discord of any sort whatsoever.

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Relatives everywhere

I rarely write about my Mexican family here. I used to, years ago on the previous website, but I don’t now because it could be chancy. I like these people, mostly, and want to maintain harmony. Not one of them speaks English, but you never know.

Mexicans are famous for family ties. I imagine that’s a Latino thing, not just Mexican, but I only know Mexicans. I’ve long had a theory about this family fixation/obsession.

Mexican history has been tumultuous and violent. Corrupt governments have focused little on helping citizens. So the citizens are on their own, usually, and that makes family very important.

Not only have governments been unreliable, so has the Catholic Church. It’s corrupt too.

When my child bride first speaks in the morning after waking, it’s something about a relative. The last thing she talks about at night before turning out the light is something about a relative. Most of the conversation during the day concerns relatives.

I do not know if this is typical, but I suspect it’s quite common.

For contrast, let’s look at my last wife, the second one. She also was one of 10 children in a Catholic family, but they aren’t Latinos. The siblings were almost never topics of conversation.

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Difficult times

My Mexican family has a difficult history, more so than most, I imagine. My child bride’s father was a family doctor/surgeon in a small town in the State of Michoacán. He kept his wife pregnant full-time till she died having the fifth baby. She was just 31. Stranded, he needed help fast, so he remarried quickly, not choosing too well, it turned out.

Take care when choosing spouses, something I learned late.

Take care when choosing spouses.

The baby assembly line resumed with the second wife. There were five more kids, splat, splat, splat, etc., plus a sixth out of wedlock from a girlfriend. Now we’re up to 11. The doc, to his credit, treated the 11th as an equal, no shirking of responsibility.

The 11th is now a locksmith in Morelia.

After his first wife died, due to the overload of kids, the doctor sent one to live with a sister, another to live with a brother, keeping three with himself and the new bride.

We are fewer now. Two were murdered in unrelated incidents. One died of a heart attack a couple of years ago in his early 50s. My child bride now has just two full siblings, four half siblings, plus one sibling of one quarter, the aforementioned locksmith.

Some are quite successful, and some are dirt poor. One half sister, a mechanical engineer, is married to a German and lives in Germany. One full sister has a degree in agronomy, though she’s never used it. One of the deceased brothers also was an agronomist, but he was murdered at age 26.

One half brother has a shady past that he abandoned many years ago, deciding to go straight. He owns a Chinese restaurant in Querétaro. Another half brother is in a wheelchair due to an affliction that was poorly treated in a government hospital. He is married to an indigenous woman from Oaxaca, and they own a laundromat in Querétaro.

A half brother and a half sister, one in Querétaro and the other in Morelia, are always just squeaking by, wondering where the next tortilla is coming from. Their lives never change. And it’s not circumstances or bad luck. It’s just them.

Personalities matter.

One full sister, the one deposited decades ago with her aunt when Mama died, owns a coffeeshop she inherited here on the mountaintop. The other full sister, with the agronomy degree, spent her work life as a rabble-rousing teacher. There was never a street protest or highway blockade that didn’t have her name on it.

She’s retired from that, and now owns a small store selling something or other. We do not get along, but it’s not due to her radical politics. It’s the same reason I don’t get along with my own sister: She screams at people. Never a good idea to scream at me.

It’s never a good idea to scream at me.

So what I lost family-wise above the Rio Bravo, a sister and a daughter, I have more than made up for down here with what seems to be 10,000 relatives who are the source of endless conversation. And I haven’t touched on the nieces, nephews and assorted spouses.

That would require an effort on the scale of War and Peace.

12 thoughts on “A Mexican family

  1. Why would the locksmith out of wedlock brother be but a quarter-sibling to your wife? He has the same genetic share from his sire as those born to the sire’s second wife, which ought to make him a half-sibling.

    But you’re right about saying whatever you think the listener would be most comfortable hearing. It takes a long time for extranjeros to develop that skill. Because the host often takes such offense when you decline an invitation, even if you’re having open heart surgery or friends visiting from Saltillo, never mind that you’d rather crawl over broken glass than accept that invitation, you learn to say “If I can” or “I’d love to.” Neither commits you to attending, but neither exactly comes off as declining the invitation.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: Okay, he’s a half-sibling too, I guess, but having sprouted from the womb of another woman, I just felt, I guess, perhaps subconsciously, that he needed to be downgraded a level. Let’s not inject clear thinking into this.

      Ironically, he’s one of my preferred brothers-in-law, though we rarely see him. He doesn’t cause trouble, which is more than can be said for some of them.

      As for the waffling replies, I too have fallen into the habit. It does not make me proud. On the other hand, my wife often finds me horrendously direct.

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  2. Well, I learned a new word today, AGRONOMY. I had to look it up, how funny I’ve never heard it before.
    I guess the important thing here is feeling like a part of the family. Its funny, most married men seem to get close to the wife’s family.

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    1. Nomad: Agronomy indeed. I’m here to serve. I think it’s just a fancy word for farming.

      As for getting close to the wife’s family, I don’t have much choice since of the two remaining relatives I have above the border, one abandoned me, and I abandoned the other. Sad, all around.

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        1. Coming from a large, generational, agricultural family I have two brothers and various cousins that are “ingenieros agrónomos.” Some specialized in fitonecnia, which means crops, and others specialized in zootecnia, which is the study of breeding and raising livestock, such as bovino, porcino, ovino, caprino, etc.

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          1. Antonio: Yes, that is what my deceased brother-in-law was, ingeniero agrónomo. And a sister-in-law too, though she never practiced it, focusing instead on being a rabble-rouser member of the “teaching” profession.

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    1. Señor Cotton: He is 18. He’s kinda aiming to graduate from high school still. He’s in, I think, the 10th grade, and has been “schooling” online for over a year due to the pandemic. Mostly, he sits in his bedroom, door closed, lights off, playing video games.

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