The Affliction by Carlos and Joseph Najera

(Dear Reader: Since I wrote this a few days ago I have been hearing and seeing on the news programs alarming words about this year’s Flu season. This a quote from MSNBC: “Nationwide, the flu has spread to more than 80 percent of the U.S., latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated. More than 2,200 people had been hospitalized since October, and 18 children have died.”  joseph)

Around 1917, one in five American children did not live to be six years old. Influenza and pneumonia along with tuberculosis and simple afflictions such as diarrhea decimated our populations. Life expectancy for men was only fifty-three years and for women, life expectancy was fifty-four.

Infant mortality in some towns and cities was as high as 30%. Diphtheria, measles, scarlet fever and whopping cough were common and potentially fatal diseases. In the 1880s and  in the early 1900s so many people died from influenza, a new word was invented, it was called a Pandemic. Researchers estimated that about 675,000 died died from influenza in the years 1918 to 1919.

grandmother number two

It happened again, that worried look on my mother’s face. This time there was a new circle of women there helping my mom. Most of them were John’s people, he had a lot of relatives. His grandfather had twenty-two children and all of them had large families as well. That meant there were many aunts and uncles and cousins. Most of them lived nearby.

I believe my mom had missed the mysterious ways and presence of Doña Tula, but the ladies that did show up had their own mysterious ways. They showed up and took over. It was just like in the old Western movies, water was boiling, the ladies were rushing back and forth in the kitchen to the girls’ bedroom. One lady brought in leaves from the lemon tree outside and made some tea.

The rest of us stayed outside. John got a campfire glowing in the backyard. None of the rest of us were allowed to be inside, so John and Roberto spread out blankets for us to sleep on near the fire. He had a plow disc and put it on the fire like a bowl. He used that to cook some meat for us.

As I struggled to fall asleep I could hear the ladies inside all of them were busy. I knew my mama was crying, she was too miserable and worried to do anything else. I could hear the sounds of the ladies praying.

We woke up in the early morning light to the sounds of wailing.

She was my older sister.

She was the one that took me by the hand

and showed my around my new school.

She taught me to say yes and no.

She taught me to say please and thank you.

She helped me understand

what the teachers expected of me in school and even around town.

She taught me how to read.

She was my friend and my playmate.

She was my sister.

Alice number two 

“Alice” María Alejandrina Nájera (1902 to 1917)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About jedwardnajera

I am a Poet. I live the life of a poet. I am an artist, a member of Gallery 9 in Los Altos, California. I published a novel Nena the Fairy and the Iron Rose, available through Amazon Books. I spent over thirty five years in a classroom. My father kept a living record of his lifetime as he lived through the Twentieth Century. He was born in 1908 and almost lived long enough to see us enter the new millennium. He was a mechanical engineer and had a wonderful love of history and science. He entrusted to me nearly 400 pages that he wrote through the years. He wrote in Spanish and I have spent six months translating these pages into English. Now I am in the process of editing, rewriting, and revising them. I am trying to post a new entry or chapter each Friday. Check in on us at least once a week for the latest post.
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One Response to The Affliction by Carlos and Joseph Najera

  1. Biblis Vox says:

    I just came across your blog completely by accident – but my family also settled in Imperial Valley (Holtville) at the turn of the 20th century. They came from the Oklahoma territories and Kansas, not Mexico, but they too eventually headed a little further north to Oxnard, where my mom grew up. My grandfather, who was born and raised in Imperial Valley and only went to Oxnard after he was married with young children, turns 90 in 2013. I am excited to show him your blog – and your father’s writing. I think it’ll bring back a lot of memories! Thank you for doing this, it is wonderful that your father wrote down so much and equally wonderful that you are ensuring that his words are heard.

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