Susan Law did not look well as she stood in line along with my wife, Aida, and others waiting for the clinic to open its doors. “I’m in severe pain,” she said. “I hope the doctor can do surgery on my gall bladder. I take Ibuprofen every night.” Ibuprofen is one of the many pain killers that those of us getting up in age rely on. Pain killers are often the difference between a miserable night and some semblance of sleep.
I had known Susan just as long as I have known my wife – in excess of 50 years. Susan was genuinely concerned. The chit chat veered to her care should she need to convalesce. “Tony’s son from his first marriage is staying with me. We helped him and his wife become citizens. So I am not too concerned.” Tony was Antonio Orendain of Texas Farmworker’s fame, the rebel farm labor organizer who broke with Cesar Chavez and formed his own union, mounting a few wildcat strikes in the fields of South Texas.
I did not know that Tony had been been married in Mexico prior to coming to the United States. With his second wife, Raquel, Tony had great kids, a couple of doctors, I believe, and two lawyers who practice in South Texas. When Raquel died, Tony and Susan partnered up. Tony died on April 12, 2016.
I met Susan during the Spring of 1968, right after Hurricane Beulah struck the Rio Grande Valley, and just as chicanos in South Texas were beginning to get organized into various fledgling groups: a handful of older activists called themselves “PASSO,” and small groups of high school students were organizing the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO). The Rev. Ed Krueger was organizing families from various colonias in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties, along the U.S.- Mexico border into self-help groups which would later associate as “Colonias del Valle”. After graduating from college in California, Susan took a trip across the country and by sheer coincidence ended up joining Rev. Ed Krueger’s efforts. She would never leave the Rio Grande Valley. Susan would work with the Tony Orendain and the Texas Farmworkers Union for a time. But most of her employment would be with Texas Rural Legal Aid working with David Hall. see the January 2021 edition of Ibero Aztlan for our interview of David Hall.
It was either A Tale of Two Cities or Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto that I was working my way through and was bothered that I could not make out how “bourgeoisie” was pronounced. After one of the evening meetings of the campesinos at Colonias del Valle I asked Susan about the pronunciation. Some fifty years later, Susan did not recall the occasion. A few months before she died on July 30, 2021 at the age of 75, I convinced Susan to write an article on the asylum-seeking families from Central America who had spent an entire year huddled in their makeshift camps in Matamoros and Reynosa. She looked at me if she were hardly worthy of such a thing. Susan had the same reaction when I sought her interview by voice recorder. We had planned to do to a ZOOM video. Rest in peace, friend.
 See Susan’s article on the “Tias & Abuelas,” March 2021 edition, www.iberoaztlan.com.