‘When I was a little girl, about seven years old, I learned a valuable lesson. My mother had a neighborhood friend. She and a group of other ladies came to my mother’s house while she was making Mexican sugar cookies. My mother’s friend was a large woman and when she and the other ladies came over, she started eating and taking all the cookies and put many of them in her apron pocket and I asked her, ‘¿Señora, porque estas comiendo toda la comida?’ ‘Why are you eating all the food?’

My mother was horrified and told me, ‘You don’t talk to Señora Rosa that way and, being the disciplinarian that she was, grabbed me by my braids, gave me a quick swat, and made me apologize to Señora Rosa and to all the other ladies. I was then made to sit in our makeshift laundry room and pantry by myself for the rest of the afternoon.

We were poor in those days. My paper dolls were cutouts from the Sears Roebuck catalog. We were poor but we had everything we ever needed. I didn’t see that my mother enjoyed sharing what she had with our neighbors and I didn’t know that they all gathered together at their different homes and they all shared what they had. I learned then how to watch my tongue and to respect my elders and, today, that’s still very important to me. The old values still work. The old standards still ring true and, if you practice them, it will come back to you in nice ways that prove it over and over again.’

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