Sunday, April 7, 2013

Is There No Hope for this Place?

Monday morning of Holy Week Estela arrived with Astrid who was headed to the vet clinic.  As there were others in the house Estela asked if she could speak to me privately.  We headed upstairs and I closed the bedroom door.  I expected her to tell me that Alex had been killed in prison.

But instead she started crying and told me that her tiny, 95-pound, virginal looking, barely 17-year old daughter, Jackie, was four months pregnant.  Just that morning she had taken the still vomiting teen to the local health center where she was quickly diagnosed as five months short of being a mother.  Estela will be a grandmother by the time she is 36.  Estela reported that everyone in the household was furious with Jackie.  Denis asked through tears "how could you do this after everything Tia Joan has done for us?"  Astrid shouted "we can't have a baby in this house; we are studying."  Estela furious because Jackie had declined all offers of birth control saying "I am too young to have a boyfriend."

Fortunately, I had upcoming travel plans which kept me from seeing Jackie for about ten days which was almost enough time to cool down and speak to her rationally.  I asked her what her plans for the baby where and she indicated that she had none.  I asked if she was going to move in with the boy and his family. "No." I asked her how she was going to pay for diapers, clothing, food, medicine, education and she shook her head and said "my mother will help."  I reminded her, in her mother's presence, that her mother was barely making ends meet as it was, that she could ill afford another child, that she needed to work and the baby would not be coming to work with her at my house.

I further told her that I thought that it would make sense to consider giving the baby up for adoption, that there were wonderful families for whom the baby would be a miracle and they could give the baby a two parent home and many more opportunties than she could provide.  She shook her head.  I told her that she needed to think about it, that she needed to put the baby's welfare before her own, that she also needed to think about herself, her mother, brother and sister.  So, that is where that is at this writing.

Many more are delivering the same message to Jackie including, this week, a wonderful Guatemalan woman who is a psycologist.  As it turns out I just happen to know a wonderful family who is looking to adopt after losing a child last year in an accident. Stay tuned.  Who knows how this will all play out. The decision has to be Jackie's but those of us with a few more miles need to make sure that she is thinking somewhat straight.

A few hours after talking to Jackie the wonderful psychologist came to my house with the director of Cristofer and Mishelle's school to meet with Marielos and her fairly wise older sister, Gladys. Gladly, my only role was to take Marielos's three kids out for some dinner. Naturally, they chose McDonalds.  I had a tuna salad while they ingested poison in the form of fries, chocolate milk and a questionable burger. Upon returning to my house I was given the signal to carry on upstairs.  Cris had the iPad, Mishelle the iPhone and Diego worked on a homework project.  Some three hours later I got the word that they were finished downstairs.

Once again, we shall see.  It turns out that some of Alex's stories about Marielos's mother were actually confirmed as true.  While I like her father I have always felt that there was something missing with her mother.  No one but the mother had had a key to the house so no one could be in the house if she wasn't there. Marielos and Gladys confirmed that their mother is an alcoholic and, for whatever reason (still to be explored - could be all her fatherless children) the mother has been particularly hard on Marielos.  While she struggles to feed three children her mother has been charging her rent, increasing the amount quite regularly and routinely threatening to throw her and her children out for being behind in her rent.

I had often wondered why the two sisters (Gladys is divorced and has three slighly older kids and a big house) hadn't joined forces.  Quite obviously Marielos was still subscribing to Alex's stories of his innocence and expecting him home any day.  With a sentence of 42 years she has had to deal with reality. At the end of the lengthy meeting it was decided that Marielos and her three kids would move into her sister's house.  The two came by the next evening to explain their plan to me. They had told their mother that Marielos would be leaving and apparently, the mother wanted to keep 10-year old Diego as payment for the unpaid rent.  She likely would have pulled him out of school and put him to work.  The sisters said "NO" so the mother said she would be keeping all of Marielos's furnishings except her beds and television.  At this writing the move has likely already taken place and the next chapter will involve some debt restructuring along with some conditions.

However, amidst all the drama there have been a couple of bright spots.  Denis saved up his car wash earnings so that he could be a "carrier" in the Good Friday procession, one of the biggest of Holy Week.  It took a bit of scrambling and following the procession of several thousand people around town in order to catch of a photo of him at about 1:30 in the morning.

Denis is the one with the smile.
Denis and Jackie just received their first set of grades from their home schooling program and Denis had his highest grades ever with an 85 average.  He was beaming. Jackie, who gets an F is common sense did very well in other subjects.

Astrid, who continues to grow by leaps and bounds, has been longing for a puppy as she has seen a few rescued street dogs come in and go out again at the clinic where she volunteers.  A few days ago the vet called me and said he had a four-month old pure bred Golden Retriever puppy that had been abandoned at the clinic and asked me if I thought Astrid would like it. Yesterday she took "Nala" home with her.

Astrid, Nala and vet tech, Christian.

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