‘They Don’t Know If I’m Alive’: 97-Year-Old Abuelita Abandoned By All 16 Children
Veracruz-based social media reporter Jaime Toral interviewed 97-year-old Isabel Méndez Jiménez about how all 16 of her children abandoned her, causing her to live in extreme poverty. Explaining that her children “don’t know” if she is alive or not, the videos show how the abuelita barely has anything to eat, usually subsisting on small portions of beans and nopales.
Jiménez explained through tears that although she had 16 children, “none of them” are with her or take time to care for her today. Videos show her living in a run-down home, surrounded by dogs and cats she has taken in.
Viewers can also see the abuelita embroidering napkins, a pastime that has served her well in order to support herself. That being said, at 97 years old, it is hard to believe she can still participate in the trade — even more so because she has an eye condition that may soon leave her blind.
The woman also described to Toral how her children are all married now, and that her sons’ wives worry about their own mothers and families — not about her. Meanwhile, her sons are “governed” by their wives decisions, leaving her alone and hungry in the shack she currently lives in.
With the bit of money she manages to bring together, presumably from the napkins she sells, Jiménez is sometimes able to buy cheese, meat, and tortillas. However, these are luxuries for her, and she usually sticks to a big pot of beans she makes for herself. When she doesn’t even have beans? She eats a tortilla with a bit of salt.
Toral published his full interview with Jiménez on his YouTube page, which further details the woman’s struggles. In the video, she cries as she talks about how she lives completely alone, and that her 16 children “forgot about her.” In tattered clothes, she explains in disbelief that even though she had “so many” kids, they don’t think about their mother.
She explained that her husband died when she was just 33 years old, working in both Mexico and Chicago in order to support her own parents and children. She put her kids through school, too.
In a separate video, Toral gifts Jiménez chicken and vegetables he bought for her at the supermarket so she has “something to eat.” As thankful as ever, she says her story “is not a lie” and is her difficult day-to-day reality. In turn, she gives Toral a few avocados.
As per Univision, Toral also gave the woman 3,000 pesos (around 150 U.S. dollars) to buy more food and clothes. This made Jiménez break down in tears.
Toral’s followers were deeply moved by the woman’s story, with one user commenting, “Hopefully her children see these videos and it touches their hearts, so they visit her.” Another wrote that content like this “is worth watching.”
Even more users continue to worry about the abuelita, asking Toral to “keep visiting her” and “helping her.” One commenter wrote, “You can tell she is very thankful, humble, and she needs it… You can see she enjoys your company.”
While there does not seem to be a GoFundMe page set up for Jiménez, we have our eyes peeled — and hope Toral continues to visit her and give her life a dose of care and support.