Absent Sons: their hearts divided between two countries
The patron saint festivities usually represent family unity for families with children abroad.
Today, and always, the photo of Ángeles -extreme left-, poses in the living room of the family home, where she is remembered despite her absence.
Sofía Medeles (Ajijic, Jal.)– The patron saint festivities are a space where many families gather, with the help of The Guild of the Absent Sons, which brings children back to their native Ajijic who have immigrated and made a life abroad but whose hearts are often often divided between two countries. Angeles Medeles, an absent daughter for 21 years who currently lives in Indiana, United States, shared her feelings with Semanario Laguna during her visit to Ajijic for the festivities.
She explained that her reason for leaving Ajijic was personal growth — she felt there would be more opportunities for her to grow in every sense in the US than in Ajijic.
«I thought that in Ajijic there would not be an opportunity for me to realize my potential. I didn’t want to just be known as «the daughter of», «the sister of», or «the one with the good taste». By broadening my horizons and looking for something new I could search for myself as an individual. Although Ajijic is a big place and very close to the city, some people feel its confines as a small town, and they seek to leave what they feel is a small town but a ‘big hell’».
However, she related that not everything in her new home abroad has been personal growth and improvement. Ángeles told of bitter moments, far from her loved ones, for example, the death of her parents was difficult and made her think about her decision.
«Yes, I would leave (Ajijic) again, but I have considered returning. I had a plan in my head to return when my parents were old and sick, with the money I’d saved, and I set the dates and everything, but sometimes life moves on and my parents did too».
The Absent Sons who face these situations often come to feel a sense of guilt for not being there physically and feeling far away, even though they are not missing children.
She pointed out that one of the reasons the absent ones remain abroad is to support the family here in Ajijic. But they often build a life abroad and in some cases with a family, and must remain away to support their family there and in Ajijic; it is not possible to return and maintain the standard living for both families, it it can still be painful.
«When you have your children and they grow up in another country, although you want to instill your original traditions and customs, they have different ones and another way of living. In those cases it becomes complicated to return, which increases, for example, although it is not my case, when the grandchildren arrive. One is divided, the navel stays on one side and the heart on another,» she said
Despite the events that changed her plans, she said that she will certainly return as many times as possible and maybe someday she will stay for good.
«I would return to the peace, the tranquility, even the gossip of the people, with people who have known me all my life,– these are things that I miss, so maybe to retire would be good».
Finally, she added that although she often feels that she is just a being on the move, going around the world without a fixed destination, returning to the patron saint festivities, for her is like returning to her family, her traditions and a part of her heart.
Translated by Patrick O’Heffernan