The rule still applies. When y ou finish all S Muir leC0111111Clided 10Se Ol t 1,70111-1111111111SiaS111. y our chores, y ou get to go out and pla y . So what will it be? Sea World, Fiesta Texas, The Alamo? Or would y ou prefer world class golfing? Shopping and hill countr y views. Either wa y , there’s something for ever y one. S 1997 OMNI HOTELS Omni San Antonio, a mere $89* per night. For families. For fun. For the weekend. ‘Plus applicable occupancy taxes. OMNI SAN ANTONIO HOTEL IH-10 AT WURZBACH IN THE COLONNADE CALL YOUR TRAVEL PLANNER OR 1-800-THE-OMNI “Valley,” from page 7 when the church declared that workers have the right to form unions, up to Pope John Paul II’s 1981 encyclical “On Human Work,” in which he wrote that a just wage is one that allows an adult to raise and establish a family. That’s one adult, not two. “The Catholic perspective is concerned not only with the interior life, the private life of the person, but also with the common good,” Alfonso says. Whereas “Americans in general have a sense that even religion becomes something very private,” Catholics tend to be more outward-looking. “There’s a kind of Protestant ethic that supports the idea of individualism, you know, Jesus as my personal savior and all that.” In particular, Alfonso says, whether they realize it or not, priests are public figures with a responsibility to get involved beyond the sacristy, the daily rituals of church life. If that means getting involved in politics, then so be it. The alternative, Alfonso says, is to accept that “we have no control over the economy, as if it were a god in itself.” There may be more than one god in the Valley, as Father Alfonso suggests. Their respective armies are on the plain. “Rodriguez,” from page 15 mothers will rigidify the “good” mother myth and make it even harder for women like Tina to seek the help they and their children need. Social services and social movements that realistically confront poverty, partner abuse, emotional trauma, and shame, Smithey says, are the real solution. Replacing these with harsh punishment simply pushes troubled mothers deeper into a closet of destructive behavior. And in Texas where the number of child homicides is increasing they are now pushed towards Death Row. “I do have to be thankful to the Lord that they decided not to execute me,” Tina said recently in a jailhouse interview. She had just been moved from prison, near Dallas, back to the Bandera County Jail so she could attend a hearing to terminate her parental rights to her surviving three children. During the two-hour conversation, she sat stolidly, hardly moving, and continued her bleak defenses of her husband. \(“He’s a jealous guy. It might have seemed to othHer tone grew vaguely flat when speaking of her family. She stiffened when asked about her childhood, her job, her youthful ambitions, and old hurts. It seemed she answered more from obligation than interest. Then it came time to talk about her latest miscarriages. Shortly after her arrest for Ramiro’s death, Tina discovered she was pregnant again. She talked about a sonogram that revealed twins. She talked about how her due date was supposed to be mid-fall. This was the first time she had ever received a medical diagnosis for pregnancy, and her lawyers asked the court to release her until her trial so she could get regular prenatal care. The court did not respond. She talked about the June day at the Bandera County Jail when she bent over while taking a shower and couldn’t straighten up. She talked about sharp pains, about bloating, about being shackled, about being taken to the hospital in a squad car, about tests and doctors and nurses and amniotic fluid and dilation, and amid this torrent of talk, Tina stood from her chair, waved her hands, raised her voice in excitement. For a moment, she was alive again. She was a woman. A human being. A maker of babies. The fetuses two males were so undeveloped that they died minutes after birth. Afterwards, she named them Roman and Fabian. As things stand today, they are the last children she will bear. Today, Roman, Fabian, and Ramiro lie side by side in Guadalupe Cemetery, a small Hispanic burial ground in a wooded area near Kerrville’s old Barrio. The shared plot is a tiny, egg-shaped mound of dirt, bordered by white pebbles and decorated inside with stones arranged like a crucifix. Ramiro’s grave is a little bigger. Someone has laid plastic flowers on it, and a cheap ceramic angel. There is also a potty seat: the little bedpan part that catches a toddler’s pee and is pulled out to be dumped into a real toilet. The potty seat is plastic and nursery yellow. It looks as cheerful and buoyant as air. Perhaps to keep it from floating away in a good wind or rain, someone has filled it with dirt. The dirt makes it heavy and solid, as though it will stay by Ramiro Perez’ grave forever. But there is nothing growing in the potty seat. It doesn’t look like anything ever will. Debbie Nathan is the investigative reporter for the San Antonio Current, where a version of this article first appeared. 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 3, 1999
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