S2: Episode 38 - Eugenio

Episode Information

Hunger & Resilience – Episode 38 – Eugenio

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Hunger and Resilience, narrative histories about the complexity and experiences of hunger. A traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, executive director. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice. Episode 38, Eugenio.

Eugenio:  I remember pulling a red wagon and going out to sell beans, gallon sized green beans, corn. When I came back, if I didn’t have enough of the items sold that I took, uh, I would get a beating from my mom. She used to throw dishes, beer bottles, whatever happened to be in the way. My mother would tell me at times that she was gonna kill me at night when I’d go to sleep. So sleep underneath the bed or in the closet, whichever. I felt more comfortable at the time. I would say the worst was my dad ’cause he had more strength and his force was more felt. Once my dad was very upset at me and, um, got the fan belt off the car and I remember almost begging saying, dad, I’m sorry. Don’t hit me. Don’t hit me. And he grabbed my hand and he just swung. And, uh, I guess I, I hated him in a way because of what he was doing.

I, I, I left home totally when I was, uh, 17, I actually started roaming the streets. It became part of my life. People were scared of me because of the, uh, brutality that I would take my fights to. I was a hardcore person. I had no love or compassion for people, and if anybody did me wrong, I would just hunt them down to the point where I got even I didn’t kill ’em. But I, I retaliated in 1999 when I got injured, I also got divorced. I had two knee surgeries. I’m pending a back surgery, so it has really devastated my life. In 2000, I received custody of my children it’s being hard, but it’s being very loving because I’ve got to see ’em every day. I love working. I enjoy working. I consider myself a workaholic. After I got injured, I really felt very hopeless and helpless. Not being able to buy the milk for the cereal, you, you know, uh, it’s just pressure that, that that builds up and you go out there and just try to get the resources from wherever you can.

Food is something that people take for granted. You see people waste food, throw food away, and you, and you and you and you don’t have it. You just wish that there was something there to eat. You know, even if it’s just bread and butter or bread and jelly or anything. And sometimes, you know, uh, eat oatmeal in the morning and eat oatmeal again in the afternoon and eat oatmeal in the evening as your meal all day, because those are things that you can stretch. I have experienced hunger in my life in different amount of times. It affects you in your whole, in your whole day. It, uh, it frustrates you. It angers you. You have a uncomfortable feeling that is just in the back of your mind that won’t go away.

Whenever thing’s got so difficult that I couldn’t prepare a meal, I would feel my children’s pain and I would discipline them by raising my tone of voice at them and telling ’em to go to their room because I didn’t want to hear them asking me for food. And obedient, they were, they would go to their room and I would feel so bad and sometimes I’d go to my room and I would just cry ’cause I felt so helpless. Deep down, I was hurting from my children ’cause I didn’t have a solution. The biggest change in my life has been being converted into a Christian, knowing that there are people that do share that kind of love, that the word speaks about. There is a solution to hunger, and I’ve applied that in my life and that solution is to just help those that need help with food. Just prepare a bag and give it to them.

My dad was, uh, 91 when he passed away. The last six months of his life, he was in a nursing home. I would go visit him every day because nobody was there for him. None of my brothers, none of my sisters, not even his wife, my mom. But I knew in my heart that he was my dad, and I knew in my heart that he was gonna die. I guess I never forgot why he spanked me the way he did, but I just wanted him to know that I, for that, I, I forgave him. And I knew that in my heart I wanted to be a better father to my children. I know that I didn’t deserve those kind of beatings, but that’s the way my life was.

[Outro Music]

Host: Eugenio was in search for stability, a search for a new identity in a way to break the cycle of abuse and violence he grew up with. No child should ever be subject to abuse. Eugenio said, I found many of my answers by giving, giving food to others that were in need. One person at a time. He told me, being kind to others help me forgive and recover. These narratives are about understanding and about not forgetting. We are grateful for Eugenio’s courage, his honesty, and eloquence. May something in his story stay with you. I’m Michael Nye. You can go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for portraits and transcripts. Thank you for your generous listening.