Every day, but today a little more. We spent it in Palmdale with mi tia, La Huera (The light skin one). Yes skin tone you’ll see is a big deal in my family like in many families/history/society.
First memory shared: That my mama (born and raised in the farm) worked in colonial big city Guadalajara, Jalisco cleaning a family’s home when she was in her 20s. If I could visit that family, I would.
Second memory shared: When my aunt was born, who is very light skinned, one man from the farm joked that my mama must hide since her sister was born, because my mama was darker. This was sparked by my cousin’s remark how interesting that my nena, and I are darker skin complected (he said oscuros), compared to them.
Third memory: my darker skin complected grandfather and those hands working the farmland with tenderly love sometimes would hit my red headed butcher industrious grandmother, and that my mama once intervened, getting blows herself. According to my aunt, that was the beginning of my mother’s health demise. The bruise on her face that eventually according to my aunt, became exposed and Cancer making a home in my mama’s body. By the age of 30 (my age) my mama was in the US, a new mama having birthed my older brother, also had Cancer on her life buckle.
Secrets. Lies. Migration. Joy. Violence. Remembering. Healing. Death. Re-birth. Common threads in families.
My aunt can share, especially sad stories.
Last time I saw her was 13 months ago. My phone was off, because I was ON with this woman, who I see once a year.
She asked why, hija was it that I saw you over a year ago. I looked her in the eye, and said like a rebellious teenage daughter “no real good reason, tia. Time just flies.” Felt pretty superfluous.
She went on to share about the tumba abandonada, the deserted tomb where my mama’s remains are. I didn’t say “She’s in my house, with me.” She compared tombs my grandmother’s in Michoacan who for mother’s day always has a corona, can you believe that far away and well taken care of? Uy. If they knew how much my mama’s legacy is celebrated in my house. How much I talk to my little one about my mama. I said, okay. I hear this, I’m with you and your pain, Tia.
Then she spoke of the last moments with my grandfather exactly two years ago. My grandfather dying a day before this birthday, buried on his birthday.
Feeling a little guilty that I told my friend that No I didn’t need his frequent flier miles to say my goodbyes to my already deceased grandfather, I had a trip already planned to San Felipe, with my daughter, my niece and her mother … I was siding with life. I thought then, life, joy, children, beaches by the desert.
I admitted, tia, I was 28 immature, and excited to rejuvenate by the beach, I couldn’t be with my grandfather. I didn’t tell her, that I wish I would see him alive in his farm, and not saying goodbye, that was too heavy. I wanted my only living grandfather to not die before I was ready, but he died before my timeline accompanying my dead grandma and mama. It was ridiculously much.
I chose beach. Desert. Children.
Sighing I listened to my aunt and her descriptive story of their last moments, letting my eyes get wet but not tears to roll down my cheeks. Mi tia huera needed me to witness all her memories and not get distracted by tears … I didn’t leave sad from that place, connected is the word. Present and incredibly hopeful, with little Amaya and Alexa by my side.
Si, memoir. Memoir needs birthing.