KATHY

“A day will come when the story inside you will want to breathe on its own. That’s when you’ll start writing.”--Sarah Noffke, Women for One 


“If I’m gonna tell a real story, I’m gonna start with my name.” --Kendrick Lamar

  

Kathy stands proudly at 4 feet, 11 inches and never lets you underestimate her although her two oldest children have been taller then her since they were in middle school. You will always find her with her nails freshly painted every two weeks, in formal wear, and attached to her wrist her small clutch purse which she refers to as her “carterita”. On her free time, she enjoys watching Korean dramas. She is the rock in her family and keeps everything running smoothly in their lives. Kathy has lived in the Inland Empire for majority of her life.

She is a mother and friend to 3 daughters, a wife, sister, tía, and a cancer survivor. Kathy is a proud hardworking woman and has built her career at the age of 23 being a property manager and helping people find home’s that are low income. Being Ecuadorian, she takes pride in her culture and tries her best to show her children how important that is. By mixing the food her kids like to eat and Ecuadorian dishes she shares most of what she would eat growing up. Teaching her children Spanish has always been important to her. 

ARRIVING IN THE UNITED STATES

Kathy was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in the mid-1970s. She grew up mainly living with her grandma in Ecuador with her older brother Stalin. When she was 13 years old her mother, step dad, younger sister, and older brother all migrated to the United States and embarked their journey to arrive to the Inland Empire. Her mother Cira was a nurse in Ecuador and her step dad Luis was a marine biologist, it was a drastic change for them to leave their lives and careers to create a better one in the United States. Kathy suffered and was very affected by this transition at a young age.


My aunt Frances, which is my mother’s sister lived here and gave us the residency to come to California. I did not know the environment, I did not know anyone. I missed my grandma which is like my second mom, we lived in her house since I was born, that’s all I knew. Not knowing the language which is English over here was really hard and made me feel very lost, alone, and shy. Which made it hard for me to communicate with anyone not being able to speak English.

HIGH SCHOOL AND YOUNG ADULTHOOD

Kathy attended high school in the 90s and learned to speak English while being enrolled in that school. Once she did she was able to make friends and come out of her comfort zone to feel less alone even though she struggled trying to learn the material that was being taught. She pushed herself to accomplish her goal and graduate high school, she did with good grades. Her family was very proud of her and she was even more proud of herself. Once she graduated high school she got her first job working at Baker’s and was able to save up to buy her own car.


Once I overcame all of my obstacles and once I was determined to learn the language and to come out of my shell, to do better. I feel like it just you know, brought opportunities. I was able to see everything in a different way. I started making friends, I was able to learn a new language, I graduated with good grades, I found a job, and I was able to save up money to purchase my own car. So that was my first accomplishment to be able to know that I did something for myself at such a young age, which I believe I was around 18, 19 years old when I bought my first car and by then I had a boyfriend. I was able have fun and enjoy life and I was able to relax and to see the good in life and just be able to enjoy more. When I was 22, I married the father of my first child, that was one of my biggest accomplishments being able to have a beautiful baby girl which is interviewing me now (we both laugh) my first born healthy baby. When she was 7, I gave birth to my second child, the relationship with their father did not work out but I was able to keep going and be there for my children and provide.

STRUGGLES THROUGHOUT HER LIFE

Kathy has endured some pain in her life and although she has learned to deal with it, it still is something that she struggles with. Every story comes with some type of negative aspect but often I find those to be some of the most important details because a lot of the time there is a learning experience or things that you may find out about yourself while dealing with really, hard for me.


It was, I want to say one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through in my 43 years of age. Not having my dad with me has been really hard because I wish he would have been there when I turned 15 to do the first dance with me, when I graduated I wish he would’ve been there, when I got married for him to walk me down the aisle (Kathy tears up) and each time I had my children I wish he would have been there to share my joy. When Alyssa my second child was about 1 year old, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I knew that I had to fight and win the battle, stay positive and keep going. Thank god, I won the battle and beat cancer. Ten years later and the cancer is back to get its ass kicked again. After going through my divorce and beating cancer I was able to meet a wonderful man and got remarried and had a third bundle of joy.

 

Website created for Oral Histories of the Inland Empire (2018).