My mother, Mari, was the third daughter but ninth child within her thirteen siblings. She was born in the state of Morelos in southern Mexico on January 13th, 1968 to parents Tomasita and Donato Chavez. From the first week she was born, her life would have twists and turns starting with her father getting her birth date wrong on her birth certificate. Technically, she was born in January, but because of this hiccup, her legal birthday is in February. As a child, she enjoyed riding her bike, swimming in el lago with her siblings and friends, and going to school. On Sunday mornings she would go into town with her mom to sell sweet bread that her dad would bake. For years she was an overweight teenager so at eighteen, she decided to change that and immediately started dieting in an unhealthy way which would end up following her into her adult years. During this time, she began college in Mexico City. A few years go by and even though she was only one year away from graduating and receiving her diploma, she decided to go across the border to the United States to see where that takes her. She knew of a coyote that previously helped her brothers across, so she decided to take the plunge.
Now living in Palm Springs, California, she lived with her uncle and two cousins for a few months. Similar to the majority of immigrants that cross over, she didn’t speak any English and didn’t know nothing about the culture on this side of the border. She soon grew homesick and wanted to return to Mexico until one day, her prima, Marybell introduced Mari to a man named Abel. These two fell in love and she no longer wanted to go back home. As luck would have it, she ended up being deported to Tijuana three months later. Her now love stricken boyfriend would send her money until he was able to find a coyote that could bring her back to Palm Springs. Two months after her return to the U.S. and only six months after meeting, they decided to get married and had a small ceremony. After being head over heels with him for those six months, her life quickly turned upside down and became complicated. Her first year of marriage was the worst year of her life because of Abel’s anger issues. Not to only paint Abel in a negative light, he is actually a loving and caring family man but had many issues to deal with. Although he has never cheated and never physically harmed her, he was verbally and emotionally abusive. He calmed down after that first year but still not enough. For the next twenty years, he would continue to be verbally abusive and had a nasty temper. She mentioned how she would have to walk on eggshells for many years to not trigger his anger and sometimes contemplated divorcing him but because she was a religious woman, she knew she wouldn’t.
In the year 1993, two years after being married, Mari had her first child. Her first child was a tiny girl that needed to be incubated for a few days. She would stay at home with their daughter while Abel worked in room service at a couple hotels. The following year held another stressful life event. She wound up getting pregnant with a baby boy and unfortunately experienced a miscarriage a few months into the pregnancy. Still, she had to stay home all day with her now one-year-old while her husband would work eleven hour shifts. She felt alone and empty inside for a few months and because her husband was still a machista at the time, he was not helpful or attentive towards how she felt or what she needed emotionally. Now in the year 1995, she gave birth to her second daughter, who is also her last child. As Mari was about to give birth for the second time, her baby somehow turned around. The baby was about to come out feet first, so the doctors had to perform an emergency cesarian section.
Then came summertime and Mari was living in a desert, with a two-year-old, a newborn, and her husband was still working long hours but now he was also going to community college. This was happening as Mari and Abel moved to a bigger house for their new family. Another hardship was just beginning due to the fact they were only able to move half of their mobile home at the moment. This was the most difficult, financially speaking, time of their lives. They were on food stamps, collecting unemployment, and since they only had half of their mobile home, they had no water at home for a couple months. Tensions rose a couple years later to the point where Mari had enough of Abel’s abuse and childishness, so she left. She packed some bags and took her daughters to Los Angeles to stay with her sister. After a week of Abel begging her to come back home, she did. It wasn’t long before he went back to his old ways.
Forwarding to five years later, their daughters now seven and five, Mari decided it was time to go to work. Abel showed her the ropes of working in the hotel industry and was able to get her a maid position. After working their way up, they decided they loved working the banquet department of hotels. A couple more years pass by and Mari is offered an assistant manager position in her department. Mari and Abel decided that since they are both working full time now, she would only work mornings and he would only work nights so one parent can always be home with the children. At this point in time, Abel’s machismo is becoming less predominant and now views Mari as an equal partner in the marriage but still has his anger issues. She soon learned how to stand up for herself and isn’t pushed around anymore. It took her some years to learn to not back down when her and Abel are fighting but she finally realizes that she doesn’t deserve to be treated how she had been treated before.
As I bring her story to a close, we decided to end her story in the present but wanted to mention a few life events from her past. She has now been a banquet manager for about seventeen years, and she loves every single part of the job. She has excelled in her career and has won several awards within the hospitality industry in the Coachella Valley. She has learned how to maintain a healthy diet after years of on and off insane dieting. After all the ups and downs that Mari and Abel have experienced together, they will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in June 2021. They ended up moving to San Diego in 2016 to be closer to their daughters and for a different way of life. Mari has blossomed into a beautiful, strong, and independent woman who positively impacts everyone she meets.