This picture may not seem like much to most people, however, it reminds me of growing up in the dusty old town of Las Cruces, New Mexico. I was raised here and with my Hispanic family background images like these are something that I hold dear to my heart. I may not have the religious connection the photo that most other Hispanic people have, but when I visit this shrine that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Catholicism memories from very early ages come rushing back.
My family had the habit of getting together every weekend informally on Saturdays and formally on Sundays, so it turns out that I would see the majority of my very large family every weekend for at LEAST two days a week. What this did for my childhood was connect me to a large group of people that I was related to. We developed friendships, and forged bonds that would last a lifetime. These people are the people I would rely on as I got older and the people who are my closest link to my past. I have an undying love for these people and they are far too many to name. I am almost certain I would leave out quite a bit of those that are important to me and that would be unfair.
This image above represents the past and the present and is a direct depiction of my family life as it has progressed. The shrine which is hand-built was put together by my talented and artistic Grandfather Samuel Barrio. This man is responsible for a large number of my cousins being talented and artistic. My Grandfather on my Barrio side of my family was a man of few words, a man of many talents, an artist and a profound speaker. This was a man who was powerful and demanded respect, when he talked people became quiet and listened, when he offered help people gratefully accepted, when something needed to be done he quickly offered his labor. I am told of his generosity and his diligent work attitude. I am told that at the age of 14 he lied to an employer about being able to drive and taught himself how to drive so he could keep a delivery truck driver position. I am told that he also literally offered the shirt off of his back to a homeless and destitute young man with a lack of clothing. I am told that he worked as a house painter for many years to support his wife, and his 7 children. This was the man who not only worked diligently as a house painter but also worked on the side as an artist. My grandfather was a talented man who sought to bring beauty into this world that can so cruelly call you away. My grandfather inspired my cousin Angel to be an artist, my cousin Jonathan to be an artist, my brother Michael to be a writer, and of course he inspired me to create worlds with words. His medium of art was painting with acrylic and using gourds as sculpture. He was truly amazing and he was unfortunately taken from my family earlier than he should have been, his life was claimed by Leukemia. I have a lot of respect for this man and I seek to always represent the ideals that he held.
These images are of art and items that are old and fading. They have stood the test of time and have survived for decades. They always bring me back to when I was a child. There were many times when I was growing up when I saw these images, every time I see these pictures, these pieces of art I am transported to a simpler time, a time in which my family was my center, when I had peace and the future was uncertain. Now days life is complicated and I grasp onto artifacts that bring me comfort. I look to the past and bask in it, I experience the present and try to be present in it, and I look to the future and I have hope for it. This is my family, my life, my history, I love where I come from and I love who I am.