Maximo Melgarejo

My mother was left taking care of my two sisters all alone with limited English proficiency and no job.
Maximo MelgarejoMaximo Melgarejo

 

My mother and father immigrated from Peru in the late 60’s/early 70’s. My father spent some time in Florida with his cousins before heading to Chicago. He worked at the Schwin Bicycle factory in Humboldt Park while going to school full-time to become a respiratory therapist.

He worked his butt off and eventually became a respiratory therapist and worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital while raising two daughters. He was an avid runner and would often jog along the lakefront path during his lunch break. One day, while jogging, he had a brain aneurysm and was taken to the nearest hospital (which, unfortunately, was not St. Joseph’s). The hospital couldn’t find his ID (he had special running shoes with a pocket for a key or ID).

He did not come home and my mom grew concerned. It took a week to find him, but eventually she found him. He was in a coma and my mother had to make a decision to keep him on life support or take him off of life support. She made one of the toughest decisions in her life and was left taking care of my two sisters all alone with limited English proficiency and no job. Two weeks later she found out that she was pregnant.

I cannot imagine the fear and hardship she went through during those months and years, but she raised two daughters and a son by herself.

My oldest sister is an occupational therapist, my other sister is a stay at home Mom raising amazing children but worked several years as a teacher and has two advanced degrees, and a son (me) who teaches at one of the best schools in Chicago and is working toward an advanced degree in education.

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