Lost and Found
story by Katherine McLean
Her feet sank into the floor and her heart sank to her stomach. It had rained and her house was no longer a home. It was a cesspool. Adelino Santiago lived in a small shack with a dirt floor that had turned to mud. She wiped the muck from her children's bodies, but it was no use. The mud swallowed everything, tainted everything. That was Mexico — her beloved home but also her jail cell. She knew she must get out. She knew there was more.
Today, Adelino Santiago lives in Henderson, Ky., with her husband, and three children. Her husband, Vicente Salpo, works all day, for as many hours as he can get. Adelino works during the hours the children are in school. Their eldest daughter, Maria, 18, works as a full-time waitress.
Funds are tight in the household, and the majority of the revenue is invested in Mirka, 9, and Vicente, 7. Those youngest two children, Adelino describes with ecstasy, are "true Americans," having been born here. Adelino and Vicente and their daughter Maria are willing to do anything to ensure a better future for the children. Sacrifices are made daily in order to provide Mirka and Vicente with material goods the family deems necessary to help the children assimilate into American culture. Their hope is that Mirka and Vicente can fit into this culture so they may be successful within it.
Despite her own disconnect with American culture, Adelino selflessly encourages her children to embrace it. She fears that by pushing them into a culture that is foreign to her, she risks disconnecting with her own children. Yet Adelino drives Mirka and Vicente to adopt America without her. She is willing to break her own heart in order for her children to have a better life.