Elodia was Rocia’s grandmother. Many years ago in Mexico, Elodia was a beautiful little girl, 13 years old, with black curly hair and brown eyes. Her father worked on a ranch and his wife and children lived on the ranch too. Alberto father owned the ranch and was in his 20’s, and one day he saw Elodia and he thought she was very grownup and beautiful, and went to her father and told him he wanted to marry Elodia. Elodia was scared. She was just a little girl. She didn’t want to marry this man. But, her father said yes to the man, so she had to marry Alberto. Perhaps it was because the man's father was a wealthy landowner? She had marry the man and had to move in the big house with the Alberto and his family.
Elodia didn’t love Alberto. People said she never forgave her father for forcing her to marry Alberto. She was always angry with her father. She had six boys and two girls by Alberto. Eight children. They all lived at Alberto’s hacienda. I asked Rocia if her grandmother Elodia, ever learned to love Alberto. She said, she didn’t know, but assumed she didn’t.
One of Elodia’s two sons was named Vicente, and when he got older, he had his eye on a young girl on their ranch named Teresa who was only 14 years old. Her father worked on the ranch. She was very beautiful. They fell in love so he went to her father and told him he wanted to marry Teresa.
Her father gave his permission, so they did marry and during the next 11 years they lived in the hacienda with Vicente and his parents, Alberto and Elodia. Teresa did all the work in the house and Vicente worked on the ranch. She helped and served her in-laws and her husband and took care of the three boys who came two years apart. Then she had a baby girl finally. She named her Rocia. She was very happy with that baby girl.
But when the baby Rocia was 4 months old, her father was murdered. A cousin shot and killed Vicente. No one talks about what happened. The cousin didn’t go to jail. Rocia didn’t know her father at all.
But what Rocia has been told by relatives, aunts and uncles, was that Vicente was a very angry man. Also he drank heavily and also he was abusive to his wife, Teresa especially when he was drinking. So who knows, maybe he was killed in a fight. Her mother does not talk about him or tell anyone what happened. She refuses to say anything bad about her first husband.
Teresa continued to live in her in-laws house after her husband was killed. The story relatives tell Rocia, is that Teresa did not like him and was scared of her father-in-law. When his wife Elodia, was away on trips to Mexico City, he would approach Teresa to go to bed with him. He bothered her many times, and one time she told that one night when Rocia was a tiny baby, Teresa was sleeping in her bed along with her children and she woke to find Alberto, her father-in-law, in bed beside her! She yelled at him to get out.
As soon as she could, Teresa married another man on the ranch, named Conception. She gladly moved out of the hacienda to Conception’s house. She never ever went back to the big house again when the children wanted to visit their grandfather and grandmother, they went alone. Teresa obviously never wanted to have anything to do with Alberto, her ex-father in law!
Teresa had three more boys with Conception. Therefore, Rocia grew up with 7 brothers and she was right in the middle. One would think she was spoiled. But she had to work very hard and it was only Rocia and her mother that did all the work for her brothers and stepfather. The boys worked in the fields with their father, and she was the one that washed all their clothes and helped her mother cook for the men and wait on them. Even when they were not working in the fields, they just hung around the house and Rocia still had to serve them and wait on them. They didn’t have running water and electricity. Rocia took the clothes down to the river and washed them in the river, using rub-boards to scrub the dirty work clothes. She did that all of her life.
Rocia says that because didn’t have a real father, she was glad, maybe, because even though some men wanted to marry her, she didn’t want to, and she didn’t have a real father for them to ask! She is very fortunate she says. They couldn’t ask her stepfather.
When she was 22 years old she met Pablo and they fell in love. He wanted to marry her and she wanted to marry him, but she didn’t have to ask anyone! She was glad.
Pablo had gone to Texas years before and had a good job in Houston. He had his green card. He had come here legally. He went home to visit his family in Mexico sometimes. That was when he met Rocia.
They got married in Mexico, and then Pablo brought his bride to Texas - to Houston - to live.
And that is Rocia’s story. Three generations after Elodia was forced to marry Alberto, the women were beginning to get free. No wonder Rocia is so happy, because she is a shining example of a woman who is free.