Interview with Calixto Jiménez

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1)     What was  your childhood like and where did you live?

“My childhood… what I can remember is when I  was 5 years old I lived here in Puerto Rico with my parents. There’s an image that I still remember, it was a small incident. While I was walking with my mother through the town streets, in one of the corners there was a man sitting, eating outside. When I passed near him I saw he had fried sweet plantains. Since I was only 5 years old, I reached out toward the man’s plate and took one of his fried sweet plantains. My mother was embarrassed and she scolded me, but the gentleman was all like ‘No no no, there’s no problem, do you want more?’ Even though my mother still scolded me the gentleman knew how to deal with the situation in a kind way. He showed the warmth of the country people, even more towards a little kid. I still remember that really clearly after such a long time.”

2)     Did you live all your life in Puerto Rico?

“No. Right after I was 5 years old we moved to the United States, where I studied in elementary school.”

3)     Did you stay there?

“No. While I studied there that I can remember, everything was fine, but unexpectedly, like in the 1960’s  my mother died. My maternal grandparents claimed my custody so that I would live with them in the town of Lares, Puerto Rico; a really different place from what I was used to. There were no buildings, nor big schools or any of those things. There were just woods, small roads but really long. I had to walk like 8 kilometers to get to my new school from where I lived with my grandparents.”

4)     How did you adjust yourself to that?

“Well, the change was dramatic and hard. But I was like nine years old when that happened and at that age any child just wants to see and get to know the world around him. Even after that sad situation of losing my mother, I can tell she really helped me with a calm personality that would help me live with my grandparents. There were no other children in the house, and well I was a little mischievous. Where I moved there were a lot of animals. There were chickens, dogs, cats, goats, a lot of different fruits and everything it was like a paradise for me. The only thing was, that at night things were really different. No electricity, meant no TV, no fridge and there were no cartoons! It was a dark world during the night; only  stars, trees and the sound of insects and loneliness all around.”

5)     Did you have any other siblings?

“Yes. When my mother died they all stayed in the States and I was the only one that moved to Puerto Rico with my grandparents. There were other people that claimed them, so after that I was not able to see them again until many years after. I was already an adult when I got to see some of them.”

6)     What and where did you study?

“Right after I got to Puerto Rico with my grandparents I started studying in an elementary school in Lares and then I moved to the Vocational  School in  Mayaguez. I worked at a factory and then I started working for the government as a firefighter. I had the opportunity to study in the UPR, Bayamon Campus  while I worked, which not everyone was allowed to.”

7)     Any experiences that changed your world’s perspective or the way you think?

“Yes there was something that changed it. While I worked I suffered an accident. At that moment I thought that the accident could have cost my life. I was sent to the hospital and the situation was pretty tough but I did learn.”

8)     What exactly happened?

I received  treatment for a while and I learned to value my life. A door from a store fell and hit me in the head and I was unconscious. The door was made of metal and glass so I bled profusely. My hand tendons were hurt. All I know is that when I woke up I was in the hospital all bandaged up. I was approximately 40 years old.”

9)     Did you have a family then?

“Yes. Thank God I had my wife and my oldest son. I was forming my home which brought me a lot of stability after the accident.”

10)  What do you love most about your life right now?

I love and appreciate life. I personally am glad with the decisions I was able to make, which in my opinion have been right, such  as being friends with good people with no bad habits. I actually never rejected the rest but I was really picky with whom I shared with, a group of friends that influenced me to do good things. I’m also happy because of the teachings of my grandparents. Last but not least I feel I have been blessed with my family, my wife and my two children.”

“I like and appreciate this. It’s really good to take some time to listen to what people think and listen  to what they have to tell.”

 

2 Comments

  1. Janice, i really liked the interview you did to your father. I agree with when you say that there a lots of things that we dont know of our closests family. Sometime we get caught up with work, study, friends,etc. and do not spend much time with them to get to know them better and hear all those valuable experiences that one day will helps us get through life as they have but with our own desitions. I really liked how your dad is so grateful of his family and his desitions in life. It must have been very difficult for him to pass through that accident but as he says, he took refuge in his family, which in life, it is one of the most important things. PS. I am glad to have learm more about your dad because even though i know, i’ve never known much about your family.

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