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Column: Reuniting once again

‘I told her it would be different this time - we were going to come back and see them again really soon.’

%22My+little+sister+Natalia+and+I+were+young+when+we+last+saw+our+dad+and+we+didn%27t+think+we+would+see+his+side+of+the+family+again.%22+Courtesy+of+Maria+Filomeno.

"My little sister Natalia and I were young when we last saw our dad and we didn't think we would see his side of the family again." Courtesy of Maria Filomeno.

"My little sister Natalia and I were young when we last saw our dad and we didn't think we would see his side of the family again." Courtesy of Maria Filomeno.

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The last memory I could recall of my dad was when we walked to my grandma’s house and I fell down a small hill. My dad helped me up and he was surprised I wasn’t crying. My little sister Natalia and I were so young at the time and we didn’t think we would see his side of the family again.

I was nervous and excited when my mom gave my sister and I permission to travel to Mexico to meet my dad and half siblings for the first time in 13 years. We traveled to Mexico this past June and it turned out to be the longest car ride we’ve ever been on. When Natalia and I arrived in Tejupilco, Mexico, we waited near a church for my uncle and grandmother to arrive.

It was our first time traveling and we were nervous – actually, I was freaking out. After all these years, I was going to meet my dad.

The feeling of anxiety hit me again when I realized I would be meeting my relatives, who were like strangers to me. My uncle and my grandma came to pick us up and as soon as she noticed us, she started shedding tears of joy. When we were kids, she used to take care of us while my mom and dad were constantly working all the time. While she hugged us, she told my sister and me about how much she missed us and that she’s glad she was able to see us one more time. However, she felt unfamiliar to me. Natalia and I were used to calling her every once in a while, but honestly it felt like I was meeting her again for the first time.

She talked to us like we were still those little kids she used to know. I remember having a good relationship with my grandma and I used to go with her everywhere she went, while my sister had a closer relationship with my aunt.

We would be staying with my grandma that night; she lives on a hill which we had to hike up while carrying our heavy luggage. My sister and I were exhausted and sweating and we couldn’t believe she walks that hill every day to get home. It was getting late but we started talking to get our minds off the heat and long road ahead of us. She told childhood stories about us and the more we talked, the more I became comfortable with her.

The following day, Natalia and I went to visit our dad at his home. We were both terrified of finally meeting him. We knew he was married and had three daughters who we only knew about from pictures. When he saw us he was excited and shocked as we were finally at his home; he took us out to eat and it was a good opportunity to get to know each other. For the following days, we went for walks around Tejupilco, watched movies and celebrated his birthday. I was enjoying my life in Mexico.

My dad later gave us a tour of Tejupilco and I noticed people around there all know each other. The townspeople were saying hello to my dad and he introduced us to his friends. These people knew us from when we were kids but we had no idea who they were. We were even able to meet our godparents who we didn’t even know we had.

I spent my birthday at my grandma’s house and it has been my most memorable birthday. I was able to spend it with the people I grew to be attached to. It was a rainy day which ruined my plans and we thought people would not show up. However once the rain stopped, people showed up, and it was fun and entertaining meeting more family members.

Our time in Mexico quickly came to a close. I spent a month with my family which made me feel like I knew them forever, and the thought of having to leave them again the next day made me upset. I had to wake up around 4 to get ready and eat breakfast. It was finally time to say goodbye to my dad. I told him I had a good time getting to know him and enjoyed all the fun activities we did including walking around Tejupilco with the family and getting to know the area. It was nice reminiscing on memories from when we were kids.

The saddest goodbye was leaving my grandma. I know how deeply she loves me and it was difficult for her to see us walk away again, like when we were kids. She hugged us, not wanting to let go this time. I told her it would be different this time – we were going to come back and see them again really soon.

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