|My maternal grandmother, Rosario de la Paz Rios.|
Her name was Rosario de la Paz Rios. She was a 26-year old beloved school teacher when she tragically passed, shortly after giving birth, due to not being closely monitored and having a severe heart condition. I would spend a good portion of my life trying to piece together what she was like and secretly wanting to be like her. On rare occasions when I visited with older, maternal relatives I was often told that I favored her. When I finally managed to muster up the courage to ask a closer family member about her life, I was graciously turned away. Traditionally, the older generations don't speak of the dead.
I have always known that the bulk of my heritage traces back to Mexico, with rumored drops of Italian and Puerto Rican blood on my paternal side. I have gone back as far as possible with helpful tools like ancestry.com, but have yet to make it past the early 1900s. I have been told that it would be necessary to travel into old Catholic churches in Mexico to find records beyond that. With the current situation across the border, I do not foresee that happening anytime soon. Plus, I wouldn't know where to start.
Thus, my research was at a standstill for a very long time. Until recently, I assumed that I would need to be at peace with not knowing certain things about my family's history. Many of my older relatives were gone long before I thought to ask them such questions, and those alive gave me bits and pieces of information over many years, or none at all.
|The only paperback copy my family and I |
currently own of Poemas Del Alma.
Reading through it has been more rewarding than I could have imagined. It's as if the missing puzzle piece is finally within my grasp! As I read her words, I felt so many different emotions: inspiration, pride, sadness and gratitude. Though this was certainly not the case, I felt like she had written this book, so many years ago, just for me. This was better than any story I had ever heard about her or other kinsmen. In reading her story, I learned that she was extremely well educated and graduated from Pan American College. She later married and had four children, her youngest and only girl being my grandmother. She was a woman of faith and a dedicated mother. Originally from Mexico, she was a fan and citizen of the United States, often feeling the nuances of navigating both cultures.
I immediately set out to start translating a couple of her poems into English, but was met with doubts. Would I do the poems justice? Could I translate without losing the feeling behind them? Though I am much more confident translating from Spanish to English than from English to Spanish, I am far from perfect at it. I asked a dear friend, Carla, for her help in translating certain words and colloquial phrases. Below is our first collaboration of bringing her work to life in the English language:
|My maternal great-grandparents. |
Poet Elodia M. de la Paz on her wedding day.
No me quejo Señor por lo que has hecho
pues comprendo, tus obras son perfectas;
seguiré en Tí creyendo mientras viva
aunque mis ilusiones ya estén muertas.
Quisiste un ángel más allá en tu cielo
y dirigiendo al mundo tu mirada
escogiste a mi santa hija del alma
dejándome a llorar, desesperada.
Pero a pesar del grande desconsuelo
por el dolor sufrido, te bendigo,
porque con él se lavará mi alma
y te agradezco, oh Dios, ese castigo.
Mi fé hacia Tí me hace reconocer
que poco a poco aliviarás mi herida,
manteniendo mi fuerza la esperanza
con la que pueda soportar la vida.
Mi hija se haya en el cielo, ya a tu lado
sera el ángel que cuide nuestra vida;
es lo mejor para ella destinado
pues vivirá, por siempre bendecida.
To my adored daughter, Rosario
I won't complain, Lord, for what You have done
I understand that Your ways are perfect
I will continue believing in You as long as I live
Even though my dreams are dead
You wanted another angel in Heaven
And looking at the world
You chose my soul's saintly daughter
Leaving me without hope
Though I am deeply grieved
for the pain suffered, I bless you
because with it my soul will be washed clean
and I am grateful, oh Lord, for that punishment
My faith in You makes me recognize
that little by little You will heal my wound
hope maintaining my strength
with which I can bear this life
My daughter finds herself in Heaven, by your side
she will be the angel that takes care of our lives;
it is the best destiny for her
she will live, forever blessed.
Because I looked up to my grandmother so much growing up, it made sense that I would translate the poem her mother wrote about her, first. In reading through Poemas del Alma, it seems that I have a new heroine: my great-grandmother, Elodia. It is a life goal of mine to eventually publish a book. And not just any book, but a book of poetry. This whole process has been a reminder that everything happens in due season. My great-grandmother published her only book long after her four children were grown. While I do not know if my process will take as long, I know that I need not be in a hurry.
I look forward to the rest of my journey in translation about the life of a woman I never knew, that reminds me so much of myself.