We were never allowed to look inside the purse. I used to guess what could be in there; semi-precious stones, candy, toys - all the stuff I think would be important. We were only allowed to carry it or bring it to her but never, ever look into it. I remember riding in the Datsun with Mom and her purse was unzipped in the center console. As I peered into it I remember being disappointed. I saw papers, the money holder, Mom's "wip-stic" and napkins. I quickly looked away so Mom wouldn't get suspicious.
I got yelled at once because I set Mom's purse on the floor. I was 15. Being the snotty teenager that I was I said, "Who cares? What's the big deal?" Mom explained to me that "If you put your purse on the floor, Satan will reach into your purse and steal your money." I rolled my eyes (which I'm really good at, my eyelids flutter and everything). This was no doubt one of those Mexican myths passed on from Gramma to Mom. When I pictured it, I tried my best not to laugh because Mom was already so mad at me. When I think about it now, the myth was a scapegoat. Maybe it was Satan taking all the money she worked so hard for with two jobs; just enough to make ends meet sometimes. Her purse was usually heavy; heavy with worry and stress. Those disappointing papers were bills to pay and bank statements. I think I might of seen a bottle of Advil in there too. The purse was an unforgiving weight over her shoulder reminding her of all the she has to do.
Mom doesn't carry a purse now. She's gone from working all hours of the day to being a homemaker. The big purse is non-existent. She has a tiny zip up tote, there's just enough room for her I.D., a credit card or two, a pocket for money and maybe a pen. Way to go Mom.