Sangre de mi sangre
Herminia Mendible died when my mother was only eight years old in an car crash, when she had a stroke. Régulo Miquilena died when my mother was sixteen years old, again, because of a stroke, which he had while blissfully reading to my mother in their garden in Venezuela. Adelaida del Pilar, my mother, became an orphan in the middle of her teenage years. Her concept of family was truncated by fate and by the wealth my grandparents left behind. The remaining part of the family fought for it, and not for the two orphan girls.
Fernando Clemente, my soon to be father, started dating my soon to be mother after meeting in college. She was seventeen, studying Administration. He was twenty, halfway through a degree in Architecture. A few months into the relationship, the “rhythm method" proved to be not very effective in birth control. Adelaida was eighteen and pregnant with me when she married Fernando. He was twenty-one, and about to drop out from college so that he could work to support his new family. Three years later, they would be divorced.
Fanny Cuellar, the only grandmother I ever knew, died when I was fourteen years old. A car ran over her, while she was on one of her regular morning walks around the neighborhood. Francisco Sandoval, the only grandfather I ever had, died when I was sixteen years old, essentially out of loneliness. Again, the sense of family was truncated: both of my parents have a painful and tumultuous relationship with their siblings because of the never ending battles over the material things their parents left behind.
I’m not familiar with the concept of grandparents. I am not familiar with my aunts and uncles. I only know the two people that conceived me.
Adelaida and Fernando went on with their lives and got married again. They started two new families, and made new sets of offspring. At the age of ten, I was introduced to the complex concept of a “brother” when Andrés was born. Later on, in my mid-teenage years, my sister Manuela arrived, a year and a half before my younger brother Matteo.
It was only in my early years as a young adult, that I started to become familiar with the concept of a family, and the different forms of it.
Sometimes you are born into a family, other times your family begins to take shape long after you are born.