Clara's Sacrifice

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Both Holly Hubbard Preston and her friend Clara are making sure their children get a higher education. But what Clara has sacrificed to do so is astounding.

Last month my husband and I sent the last of our three children off to college. It was a bittersweet milestone that many a Northern California parent will pass this fall. Though I miss my daughter, I can’t complain. I had 18 solid years with that kid which is a lot more than my friend Clara had with her two boys.

When Clara came here from San Salvador as an undocumented worker 11 years ago, her boys were six and 15. Their father, to whom Clara is still married, stayed behind to raise their sons while she provided for their family in absentia. Heart wrenching as it is being away from her family for years on end, Clara stands by her decision to come here. Because of her sacrifice and hard earned dollars, Clara’s husband and sons are able to afford a safe place to live away from the violent street gangs that shot and killed her nephew five years ago. Though she hasn’t prepared a meal for her family in over a decade, Clara says she’s put plenty of food on their table. Beyond food and shelter, Clara has provided her sons with something she never had that will change their lives forever —higher education.

Clara’s eldest son, now 26, is a college graduate with a degree in computer science and a white-collar job. Her younger son, who is 17, an aspiring engineer, will start his university studies next year. As with her older son, Clara’s committed to covering his $4,000 tuition. If all goes well, he’ll earn his degree and Clara can go home. Until then, she’ll work as much as she can and continue to speak daily with her family.

I used to think I wouldn’t trade one moment with my three children for anything. Then I met Clara, who gave up countless moments with her sons in order to give them a safer, better life.


Now I’m not so sure.

With a Perspective, I’m Holly Hubbard Preston.

Holly Hubbard Preston is a North Bay writer.