Family timeline awash in memories… by Dani Marty
Updated: May 7, 2019
Her father called her “rock head”. A term of endearment coined from the translation of their family name. One year he drew faces on stones and presented them as gifts. She laughed, as they often did. So much did she miss the good days. The days before he tied his own noose, downtrodden and empty from years of methamphetamine addiction.
He never taught her Spanish. Never told her about family traditions. There were none. Raised by a heroine addict, convinced that her god had forgiven her trespasses. Absentee father he had finally made amends with as an adult. Their family traditions consisted of strip searches so mom could steal his hard-earned money. He stowed away what he could in order to buy glasses for his sister.
His mother was not allowed to be alone with his children. Nana hated his “guara” wife and wanted her “hijitos” to be brown. Leaving them in the sun for hours without sunscreen. She remembered days with her Nana. One cough resulted in a chest full of Vicks Vaporub. She was happy when her father put a stop to unsupervised visits.
Her world view was small for years. Raised with a racist mother who used her Hispanic mother-in-law’s abuse as an excuse to be hateful. Her mother changed her and her brother’s last names to spite their father. Never knowing she gave them the gift of white privilege as a result. In one day a Peña became a Marty and nobody ever asked why she was white skinned again.
She wasted years ignoring the traditions of her home. Always convinced that she would move away one day. A consistent sentiment shared in the house. Her mother was always trying to get out. “Land of Entrapment” she called it. Her mother had been forced to move to a new place the day after she graduated high school and rebelled from the moment she arrived. Her mother had loved her father, though. The only one she would ever commit to. They just never made it work. He chose drugs over family and violence over commitment.
She still missed days of being his “rock head”. The girl he loved the most and took to ballets when he was sober. His prima ballerina. Now an adult, she finally looked to her past. Finally began to delve into her heritage, her local traditions. This was her home, this was her life. Her mother got out, just as she said she would, no longer “trapped”. She had stayed. She had made this her home. Embracing her past, she finally looked to the future.
Dani Marty is a Latinx writer from New Mexico. She lettered in Creative Writing in high school and took several Creative Writing and Poetry courses in college. She has been writing for over 16 years and has recently begun sharing her work. She has been published in Neon Mariposa Magazine online and is learning to be confident in her creativity.