Taking the time

February 14, 2023

The journey to get where he is now wasn’t easy.

After crossing the border, Garcia and his mother walked to Chicago expecting to meet their relatives.

But no one was there.

They didn’t know the language and weren’t in the country legally. Going back to Mexico was not an option.

“I remember we just lived under the bridge by Lawrence and Lake Shore Drive,” Garcia said. “We just stayed there. We also lived in abandoned buildings and parks.”

They endured hunger, cold and sickness for a year. Then one cold, early morning in February, Garcia’s mother started coughing up blood.

They went to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital in Cook County, which helps immigrants and low-income people.

After nine hours, Garcia was told his mother only had six months to live.

“It was hard,” Garcia said. “And I didn’t know what to do.”

I remember we just lived under the bridge…

— Alfonso Garcia, LULAC adviser and success coach

Remembering these moments isn’t easy for Garcia.

It wasn’t possible until he started going to therapy many years later.

His voice broke and his eyes welled with tears as he spoke. Occasionally, he had to wipe the tears with his scarf. But he says he is happy that he can tell his story now.

Three months after the hospital visit, the only person Garcia loved died in his arms.

The last time Garcia saw his mother was when her body was cremated. He left with her ashes in a small box.

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