Uno Propone Y Dios Dispone… (a guest post)

Uno Propone Y Dios Dispone

One Proposes, God Decides

by Juan Alanis

Long, straight black hair. Pitch black. Falling around her head, perfectly. Caressing her face almost. Running along the curves of her neck. Placed neatly behind, straight down the middle of her back, in a simple ponytail. Her eyes, wide and young. No sign of wrinkles. Just hope. A smile on her face. The same one she wears now, every once in a while. Not nearly as often as she did back then. Crooked. But refined. Measured. But welcoming. Warm.

No makeup on. Just a much thinner face. Defined cheekbones. Glowing.

In most of these pictures she’s wearing plain colored shirts. Grays, blues, blacks, cream colors, even some reds. Pants, with bellbottoms. Dresses, with very thin matching belts wrapped around her waist. Always with child in arms. Straddled between her knees. Sitting on her lap.

Like looking at a complete stranger, my mother in her youth is unrecognizable. There’s strength in her eyes; confidence in the way she stands; attitude, carelessness and defiance in her soul. All this I can tell by looking at her old pictures. Boxes worth, piled in stacks, both here and in Mexico, like the love letters of yesteryear, to her from my father, bien guardadas, where they won’t be destroyed, but not to be displayed in frames for everyone else to see. They are her memories, only to be shared with those closest to her heart.

In one picture, we’re standing outside, my brothers and me barefoot, all wearing track shorts, Chuy without a shirt, my older sisters, one on each side of us, Tina holding an infant Irma, facing her towards the camera, lined up side by side, a pyramid of various heights, all around my mother, in the barren sandy ground, outside of our barb wired fence, a few hundred feet away from the white, chocolate brown trimmed house we all shared. In this one she looks more like herself. Less carefree. More troubled. Stressed about feeding a family of eight. Worried about her husband’s drinking. Nervous about the looming threat of those green and white trucks pulling into our driveway one day, knocking on our door and telling us it’s time to go back to El Sauz.

My mother today is still as feisty as ever: Yo tengo boca por eso hablo. El día que ya no tenga pues ya no hablaré, pero hasta entonces voy a decir lo que quiera. A mi nadie me va detener. A mi nadie me va callar. Only now she’s lived long enough, through enough, to know defiance is useless against life.

Still, at the crossroad of her life, in these earlier pictures, my mother was all courage. That’s why a lot of them are now stacked in boxes in my own house también.

About the Author: Juan Alanis is a Texas-based writer and journalist, living in Houston with his wife and son, also host of the Hispanic-themed blog Follow him on Twitter: @juanofwords.


  1. Powerful as always, Juan. Your mother sounds like a strong woman, most mothers are – and raising 8 children, no less, isn’t for the weak. I don’t know her but I really feel you captured who she is in this piece. Beautiful.

  2. Gracias, Tracy.
    And what would you know, it ended up being a family of 9…with my seventh and youngest sibling (a sister, la consentida) being born to my mother when she was in her 40s, weighing in at over 11 pounds – we called her the whopper for a while, not anymore. But yes, my mother is all strenth and compassion that’s why she’s so often in my writing.

  3. Powerful story, Juan. Tracy- it’s great to see Juan’s words appearing on your blog; a perfect fit.

    The recollection of my mother (gone almost 3 years now) and that of other women who were like her as I was growing up is what came immediately to mind when reading this. I can picture the photographs and a mother’s eyes.

    When I was younger (teens and 20s) my cousins in Mexico (mostly women) would laugh as they would show me pictures of my mom with their moms before any of them were married, when they were carefree and beautiful. They always reminded me of how beautiful my mom was- till I came along. Among my generation/cousins, the men are far outnumbered by women, so of course the ribbing was always there.

    Thanks for the recollections and a very visual post!

  4. Nena, Carrie and Joe,
    Thank you for the wonderful compliments. I knew when partnering with Sra. Lopez nothing but great things would come – your words are our proof…and I hope you will continue supporting the inspiring writer who Tracy is, and for whom I have only the utmost of respect.


Leave a Reply to Juan of Words Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.