By: Michelle L. Garcia
A petite, a pixie cut blonde (for now) dressed in jeans and a San Diego "Hard Rock Couture" t-shirt, Ericka Santana could pass as a teen on her way to the mall and not the thirty-five year old woman that has seen tough times. As I catch a glimpse of the small cross tattoo on her hand, Ericka tells us her story.
Ericka was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. She was only a year old when her father died. His passing left her mother to assume the role of both parents. Her mother worked long, extensive hours to provide for her children. She was strict and demanded respect. She was both mother and father and often impatient with her children. Not understanding her mother's situation, Ericka grew to be afraid of her. But Ericka insists she had a happy childhood and isn't looking for sympathy.
When Ericka was nine years old, she found a firecracker. And as any curious and mischievous child would, Ericka found a way to light it. Thinking it was a sparkler, she held the firecracker right in front of her face. The firecracker exploded! The sound was so loud, she became dizzy. Afraid of what her mother might do to her as punishment, Ericka kept her own secret. The vibrating sounds of her footsteps sounded like canon booms in her head but she still kept her secret. She would stick her head out the window of the moving car; hear the wind whistle in one ear and not the other. But she still kept her secret. It was a year before she saw a doctor for her hearing problems. She was finally able to tell someone what had happened to her. The doctor discovered that her right eardrum had completely ruptured and her left one was severely damaged. Believing education would be easier to obtain for a slightly deaf girl in the U.S., her mother sent her to live with her sister. Ericka enrolled in public school and wore hearing aids throughout junior high. The hearing aids stopped working for her by the time Ericka completed the 10th grade. Feeling out of place and without any special needs support, she opted to drop out.
Ericka was eighteen when she became pregnant. Her passport had expired and rather than risk getting stuck in Mexico, Ericka decided to stay in Texas. She married her high school sweetheart, moved to Minnesota and had two more children. Life in Minnesota was difficult on a single income and the family hit hard times. After six years, she and her family moved back to South Texas.
We find ways of coping when life gets tough. Ericka chose to read books. She has accumulated over two thousand digital books and has read every one. It was through reading the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer that Ericka realized she wanted to write. She knew she had a knack for storytelling. Able to recount a story more than once and with the same precise detail, she started researching what she needed to do to become a writer. Eventually she began taking notes on the story she wanted to write. The plot and the characters started to flow.
Looking at Ericka, you would never know she is completely deaf or that she is reading your lips. Reading her writings, all in English, you would never know she only speaks Spanish. Ericka does not know sign language. She was never given the opportunity so she never learned. But none of this affects her spirit; it drives her dream.
Ericka currently works as a Sales Representative at Santana's Wigs & Hair Extensions. She is married to her high school sweetheart Alex and along with their three children, resides in Brownsville, Texas. She is currently working on the next volume of her series, Turbulent Desire Series, available early 2015.