A window to my past…

A few weekends ago my abuelita was in town. I hadn’t seen her in a long while because I have been overwhelmed with my studies and, quite frankly, it’s difficult to travel with my one year old daughter.

We spent the day together. We spent the day cooking, talking, and enjoying each others company…..well, actually, me regañó to the max degree! She scolded me, she nagged me about how undomesticated I am and how little I value the extended family I have in my life, and then she broke out into tears….se le salieron las lagrimas ;(

She reminded me that she grew up with no one. Literally. She was an orphan in Jalisco, Mexico about 60+ years ago. Her older sister went to look for her when she old enough and they lived together for many years. My abuelita reminded me that she had to teach herself everything she knows about life, which included what I lacked, cooking skills to start.

As I was washing dishes she reminded me that, though, I am too busy pursuing a doctoral degree, and she only reached a second grade education, that she is much more educated.

Let me pause…..

I know it seems that I am portraying my abuelita in a negative light, but what I am actually trying to show is a window to my past. Our day together was pleasant. The stories she shared with me and the thoughts about how I am living my life came out of concern and are rooted in the pain she has felt in hers. She was trying to pass down some consejos to me and that is something I can appreciate. The whole day I felt like she was trying to share as much as possible with me about what life has taught her, while at the same time, I know that part of her rambling is due to old age, but still. The woman had something to say.

This post is a perfect example as to why I want my bebita to learn Spanish. Many times when I try to share something, the words that most poignantly describe the thought, story, or sentiment of what I am trying to say are in Spanish.

That particular afternoon, with my Abuelita Cata, could not have been lived had I not known Spanish.

The Bilingual Connection in Texas(Tejas)

The other day I was speaking in Spanish, like I always do with my daughter, and in English, like I always do with my sister. Somewhere between talking to my sister about her studying for the GRE while at the same time chasing my baby girl around the room, I ended up blurting out to my sister, “Toma your pencil.” After I had grabbed it from my 17 month old as she attempted to put it in her mouth, which is nothing out of the ordinary. This is how she explores her world. Apparently, this is how my bilingual world connects, sometimes. They meet in the middle of a sentence. It should really be no surprise that so many people in Texas code-switch, blend Spanish and English, sometimes making a new word using the 2 languages.

This is the bilingual connection. This is Texas!

25 Years without my Father….

This coming year, 2012, marks the 25th year of my fathers passing. Interestingly, it is also the year I turn 36, the same age he was when he died.

I want to write a post that can highlight the difference his passing has made in my life. I was only 11 years old when he left. For many years I would view his passing as the time away he had spent from me, my two sisters and my mom. For the longest time I would count how many objects, whether they were tangible things or the people in our life, that were also around when he was alive. And although the things, and unfortunately, the people dwindled in numbers as the years past, his absence was never forgotten.

They say the way someone dies is a crucial factor in understanding the way people mourn a loss. They also say that the hardest losses to endure are those of first and foremost a child, then a parent, and lastly a spouse. Well, in my fathers case and because he was so young, we, as a family mourned heavily as he was a young father, son, and husband.

As the years pass, I think I will always feel like a part of me aches and like a part of me will always feel like I am missing something…someone. The times in my life that have been the hardest living without my father for so long have always been pivotal moments in my life, like: graduating from high school and college, getting married, and most recently having a baby.

During these past 25 years, he has missed a lot, a lot I think he would be proud of, but the truth is…he has still spent a lot of time away from us. About once a year I dream that he and I are sitting in front of each other. I am trying to catch him up on every little detail about my life and my sisters lives, and although it is nice to think that through dreams those who have passed away may be the way they communicate with those of us who are still living, the time we lost can be hard to compromise….

As I write and reread this post I realize that there is probably not enough space to describe how his absence has left a huge impression in my life, so I’ll stop here.