© 2019 Tapestry, Annual TAMUK Women & Gender Studies Journal

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Gabriella Breitenfeld

Elma Saenz

            My Grandmother Elma Saenz, was born July 7, 1945. She was born in her aunt’s house in San Diego, Tx. There were six children total in her family, my grandmother being the oldest child, a year later her brothers Felix and Amado were born, following with her sisters Gloria and Mary, and lastly her brother Jose. Her mother’s name was Olivia Lopez, she was born at the ranch in Guajillo, Tx. Her father’s name was Felix Saenz, he was also born at a ranch called Santo Niño. They both got married and lived together at the Guajillo ranch. Felix her father was a farmer and rancher, he also owned his own dairy farm, Olivia her mother was a stay at home house wife.

            Life as a child for my grandmother, was very fun, exiting and full of love, being that her family was very poor. She remembers always helping out with chores around the house as well as the farm before and after school. Once my grandmother’s mother started having too many children to live at her house, she then moved in with her grandmother. This house was a three-bedroom house with a kitchen, dining room and living room, there was also a bathroom with running water, but they did not have a water heater. Since, my grandmother was the only child living in the house, she had her own bedroom, she described her room as being “L” shaped, it was not too big nor too small it was just the perfect size for her, her room also had a screen door so she would walk outside.

            Being that there was no internet or television back then, my grandmother and her cousins would get every creative with making toys that they could play games with, one of the toys she remembers making were little stilts, there were made out of old cans and were wrapped around with

wire for security so you could walk. Also, my grandmother and her cousins would have their own tire, with races to see who could push them the fastest. Lastly, she would play with her dolls and chalkboard. Her favorite childhood memory was when her family would go down by the pond and say scary stories at night. Even though my grandmother was the oldest child, she remembers starting school with her younger brother because they had both started at the same time. One harsh experience that she remembers from school, is that when she was in the second grade the teacher had hit her on the hands with a ruler, because she had lost her book. Another experience she remembers, is when her and her best friend got kicked out of class because they were laughing too much. Academically, my grandmother was very conscientious about the grades she made in school, grades were always very important to her, she remembers always making the honor roll in her school and if she did not do well as she had hoped in a class, she would get major headaches. 

            My grandmother worked very hard to get her education, graduating high school in San Diego as well as

getting her college degree (Bachelors and Masters) at A&I to what we know now as TAMUK, so she could Peruse her degree as an English teacher. In 1967, she got her first job as a junior high school English teacher in San Diego, Texas. As a first-year teacher she had a very hard time, because no one in her class had learned how to read, she said that this was a big shocker as well as an eye opener. She succeeded her mission at the end of that year by teaching all her students the correct way to read.

             I was in the hospital just born when my grandmother first met me, she cried tears of joy when the doctor lifted me and saw my face for the first time. She hopes that I push forward in life with a positive attitude even when times get hard, and strive to have a successful life. She feels honored that I am attending this university because this is when she went to school and got her education. One major hope that my grandmother has for me is to be happy, she always told me, “Being happy with what you do is the most important thing in your life.”

 

             My grandmother’s inspiration will help me to succeed at TAMUK, by following in her footsteps to have a happy life. She just makes me want to keep going and be successful just the same way that she was. It gives me some sort of motivation and a sense of greater knowledge, knowing that even though you go through a lot of things you can be very successful.  She is very important to me because she has always been there for me, and everyone else that is in my family. Also, our friend’s. She is what you could call “the rock” of our family. Her inspiration to me is how well she can keep her head up high and her spirits strong through everything and anything.