(Continued from Part 1)
Sunday morning would find me again in the kitchen with my Grandmother. She was making coffee and fresh tortillas for breakfast. As she and I were the only ones yet awake, she would chat with me about the goings on of the night before, silly stories about the livestock and then take me to the chicken coop to steal the steamy warm eggs from under the fluffy hens. These things I remember. I, the princess of the family even then. I cherish every memory, every smell, and every taste. The memories of my people and the times they spent with me. These are the things I am made of, what makes me who I am. This is where I am from!
Now, today Sunday, the last day of yet another three-day party. The hole was dug, the fires set, the songs sung, the dancing and the tequila flowed and the food eaten by so many of my family members that I could not name them all in one sitting. This time it was here, at my mother's house. Not in Mexico from where the custom comes. For most of the family is now here, at least the ones I am closest to. The two factions of this family come together at this time for the birthday of Omero; in his 40th year is now the male matriarch of the Hernandez family, related to my mother's mother. His father, Omero Sr. would have taken that place but he passed some time ago. His memory remains in his son. So much like him. I here the saying over and over "Tal palo tal estilla." translates to "the leaf does not fall far from the tree."
We are huddled in the kitchen; my uncle plays the guitar as he used to do when I was two. My uncle was so very young and handsome then, now he is still handsome but the grey colors his hair and his pretty wife whom I still call "The pretty Aunt." is there beside him as they sing romantic songs looking at each other eye to eye. It makes us all tear up to see the love. It is all the same as it always was. Only the honored guest is different. But the moving speeches begin and we are all teary eyed and even friends of the family are moved to speak for the great wealth of good fortune, which surrounds our good Omero. Then the birthday boy leaves with his family, his wife, sister, her husband, their children and his mother. What a gift to have all of them here with him we all comment. That group leaves and my uncle picks up the guitar again, we open another bottle of tequila, I go to get my 91-year-old grandmother from her bedroom where she sits and crochets. I tell her we are going to sing to her now, it is only 4PM and we continue singing. With my grandmother here, we sing the old songs and everything continues as it always has. This is where I come from.
I have found it is important for us to have an understanding of our past, our history, where we come from. I find it is a source of strength, a type of ground upon which to stand. This story was written about three days I had spent at my Mother's house in 2008. Three days of a birthday party for a cousin of mine done in the way my family did when they were still in Mexico. Here is my account of my memories of such parties.
Feel free to ask any questions in case I did not make something clear.
The Three-Day Party
-Or- "This Is Where I Come From"
It's Sunday, 2:00 PM and the music has been on since 11:00 this morning. The last day of a three day birthday party not unlike so many I have been to since I can remember sometime around the age of two... for some reason I ask myself the question, "Where do I come from?"
I remember the ranch, it was on top of a hill and my grandparents lived there and had a farm where they made a meager living. My mother's family were poor but noble people who worked the land. They originated from the state of Veracruz at the southern end of Mexico. I know the story, my Grandfather was run out of the southern town where they lived because of his forward thinking ideas. He became the mayor of the small town where I met him called Tulancingo, southwest of Mexico City. I remember when there was no power or running water in that village. I also remember how, over the years, he brought those amenities to the town and how he transformed the quality of life for so many. But that was my Grandfather.
Where do I come from? Some of my people have blond hair and light eyes. My Grandfather did. These traits came, no doubt, from the infusion of Spanish blood from the conquistadors who came to the new world to find their fortunes. They raped our women and from this I now have cousins with blond hair and light eyes.
My father's family were rich, from the North of Mexico and my father inherited the tall, dark handsomeness of his father which was passed on to me. However, that is a story for another time.
Now I will speak of the family that comes from the South. The family that came from poor beginnings to find their fortune here in these United States.
My father was always referred to as Don Longinos. A title of great respect. He was the man who brought my mother and I to visit her family in a great big new car. My father who allowed my mother to send money to her family every month so they could survive. It was my mother who made many things possible for many people in her family over the years.
I was all of two years old the first time I sat by the fires and listened to the guitars and watched as the men drank tequila and the local drink called pulque (made from the agave plant). I listened to the songs and they let me sing along. Even let me sing one or two on my own. What a novelty I must have been. The little princess from the United States who was brave enough to sing with the Mariachi. Who sang the old songs with the confidence that few men had. What a novelty I must have been.
The singing went on to the wee hours and the last men standing would bring up the barbacoa that had been cooking under the ground, under the big bonfire that was the center of the revelry the first night of the party. I remember going to bed with the first light of dawn. By mid morning I was awake again to find my grandmother in the dirt floor kitchen. My dear Grandmother who would bathe the poor cat before my arrival because she knew I would insist on sleeping with it as I did at home with my own. She would have real butter for my bread in the morning and plenty of fresh avocados which I loved. These were luxuries for these poor people, but nothing was spared when my family made the trek to visit our roots.
The whole village would come by to partake in the bounty of the barbacoa on Saturday. I would sit by my mother as the procession of people would come by to pay homage. It was one of my first lessons in protocol and it was the first time of all the times we would sit in such a procession, part of every visit we made to the family when we went back to Mexico. At that time, I did not know why. We were important, that much I understood. I recall my mother trying to explain to me how we were related or who each person was related to, a neighbor or friend of a relative or godfather or godmother to whom. My little head could not retain all the names or all the connections. I only knew that these people belonged to me somehow and that I should be nice to them.
The people would eat. Food and drink were always the center of every gathering. Years later I came to understand that my father and later my mother were instrumental in paying for these feasts when we came. This granted my parents honor and respect throughout the family, which was transferred to me by association.
It would be later in the day when the party would begin again in earnest. In those days, because there was no power, the lights were candles and gas lanterns and the music was live. The musicians would come and be assisted by family members with their guitars. I remember the stucco walls of the great room of my grandparent's house. The house was made in the manner of the better homes in Southern Mexico and the great room had the hooks in the walls for the hammocks that would come out at night. Because my grandparents had actual beds, this denoted a rise in economic status. These things I came to understand years later when I actually visited the lands of my mother's birth.
The day I saw one of the huts where my mother took her first breath was a great surprise. The structure had three walls! No front and a pounded dirt floor! Everything took place in the one room. I got to see it when we went on a safari to the jungles of Veracruz to see a rather large property my mother was considering buying. Once we got to the place where the jeep could no longer go and our party had to continue on foot with the aid of machetes, we came to a clearing in the jungle where an indigenous family had set up their little shack. Here I was hiking past this little structure in my fine leather boots. In passing, my mother pointed casually to the shack and said, "that looks like the house in which I was born." I stopped to take a look at the scrawny chickens running about the side of the shack, the weathered boards and palm fronds of the roof and the shaded interior where I could make out a woman bent over an open oven with several children in various stages of undress playing on the floor. A week later, in the museum of natural history in the City of Mexico, I saw another one of those huts in an archeology exhibit on indigenous peoples. It dawned on me then ... this is where I am from.
But on that long ago Saturday when I was two, the night was upon us and the magic of the lanterns bathed the revelers with light. My tall, strong father danced with me in his arms then would place me down only to be lifted by another uncle to be danced with again. I would sing, dance and laugh with my family until the wee hours. Then, with the light of dawn, I would fall asleep on one of the beds with a warm cat in my arms.
(Continued in part 2)
Came across this story some time ago and it found me again. We do not know what the effect of our actions will be. However, if we insist on doing the right thing and believe everything happens for a reason, we might make a difference as this poor farmer did with his good deed:
His name was Fleming, he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had Saved. "I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life." "No, I can not accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer.
At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel. "Is that your son?" the nobleman asked. "Yes," the farmer replied proudly. "I will make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he will no doubt grow to be a man we will both be proud of." And that he did.
Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London. He went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.
Years later, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son's name? Sir Winston Churchill.
I'm sure you've heard: What goes around comes around.
Wishing all good things come to you.
A few days ago I participated in a lecture to promote a new lecture series to be given at the healing center near my home. As I am a life coach, they wanted me to participate and perhaps give classes there. Since the topic was "Love" in honor of Valentines day I thought I would speak on how to effectively identify what is important to us in a relationship.
In the years of working with clients I have found that when two people get into trouble it is because someone's value got stepped on. In our society, many are not aware of what their values really are. Ask around and you will find this to be true. Of course the basics like honesty, integrity and responsibility will come up. But, for example, it is important for me to be listened to by the person I am speaking to, if the person is looking around the room while I am speaking, I feel it is disrespectful. I was speaking to someone last night and even though I knew the person suffered from ADD, I found this to be true. Then, I tend to surround myself with people who are really good at something and take pride in this and respect others for their talents and abilities. It is something that is important to me. Although these things may not seem very important with an acquaintance, they could become points of contention in a long term relationship.
The exercise I gave the class was to make a list of all the things they "did not" want in a relationship. I asked them to look all the way back to their parents and all their own relationships, then to look at any relationship they had seen with friends and family. It could also be helpful to recall examples from books, movies or any other source and to make the list extensive. Once they had this done, the real work would begin. The job would be to take each "not want" and from this, discover what it tells them about what they "do want" then to make another list of all the things wanted. This new list will help clearly define what is important to the person and could be a guide in looking for that "right one!" It would also give a clear picture of what types of values are important to this person so they can be expressed when necessary.
Then I asked a few people to give me some "Not Wants" to serve as examples. The first woman sternly said "I don't want a cheater." Then I gave this example as to what it might say about what she did want:
Want someone with integrity
Someone who respects themselves and others
Someone who's sense of honor would never allow them to do such a thing
Someone who loved her so much he would never do anything to hurt or dishonor her
... I am sure she could get more ... but you get the idea.
I have found this exercise to be so useful for my clients, and the attendees were so excited to get started on their own lists, that I thought I would share it with you.
I hope you find your heart's desire, great happiness and joy,
Happy Valentines Day!
I have a little boy and his name is Oscar. A tan/gray tabby who was a rescue cat. My friend who saves cats called me in tears one day because she could not place him. He had been in a cage for six years at a Vet's office. Oscar had been kept in a cage because he did not get along with other animals and no one had taken the time to acclimate him. They also used him as a blood donor.
When he came, he was fat like the Garfield cartoon cat and I started him on a play and workout program right away! Oscar was a bit traumatized and I had to break him of some very bad habits. Like attacking or biting when he was scared. With the help of some pillows and a squirt water bottle I began to train him. He did not like to be picked up or held. He was not too keen on hugs either. The poor little boy did not know how to be a kitty cat!
It has taken two years and a lot of love and patience, but Oscar is now a very sweet, loving kitty. He is happy and healthy and even gets along with my room mate's dog Maxwell!
He has also taught me a lot about what men want and need. Understanding, tenderness and respect. This is what my furry little boy Oscar, taught me.