Tag Archives: the old neighborhood

Words on Wednesday …

29 Dec

Thinking of La Vecindad just last week when Chente passed away, and then I find out that someone from La Vecindad had only a few days left to live and it hit me again.

All the memories flooding in from my childhood with Doña Maria, her caring and easy-going nature, and some of best pozole I ever tasted.

She lost her battle to cancer a few days ago and I felt that saddened pained heaviness in my heart. She’d met me when I was in diapers, and knew me through my first communion, TrapperKeeper and PeeChee folder days all the way until high school graduation. I’d seen her almost everyday. She’d been part of all the carne asada and Vencindad parties. She’d been there my entire childhood watching me grow and now she was gone.

In peace, I hope. No longer suffering the hurt that comes with cancer.

I was lucky enough to see her a few days before she had passed and I mentioned my favorite story …

Being a latch-key kid growing up, it was super important not to forget or lose your your key. I happened to forget it on one occasion and I had no other choice but to sit on the steps and wait. Cold and cloudy. I waited for someone to come home.

Doña Maria’s husband, Don Chuco, coming home saw me sitting there, like a stray dog and invited me to come upstairs and wait until my parents came home. We walked in and the first thing I noticed was the smell of something savory coming out of the kitchen and the giant painting of The Last Supper hanging near their dining room.

Doña Maria came out and smiled.

Ven mija.

Mija.

That’s what she called me. It felt warm and fuzzy.

Sit down, sit down, what were you doing outside waiting, you know you could have come up here and waited inside. Come sit down, we’re gonna eat some soup. I was part of their family. In La Vecindad we were all family.

She served me a bowl of warm soup and I joined them at the table. As we began eating they both grabbed tortillas from the basket, but I just kept eating my soup. Then they grabbed another, but I just kept slurping away.

They looked at each other and smiled.

Don Maria asked if everything was all right and I said it was fine, tasted good. Don Chuco shook his head and in his big deep booming voice said …

Oyes que no sabes que con tortilla se llena la gente …”

Roughly translated it meant … Don’t you know that tortillas help you fill up? Eat up.

They laughed. I smiled. I took a tortilla from the basket.

She let me watch cartoons the rest of the afternoon, by the window, so I could see when my parents came home.

When I told my dad later that night about the Last Supper Painting, the soup, and the tortillas, he chuckled. Said we should probably buy more tortillas then …

Doña Maria smiled at the story as she sat up on the bed wincing in pain.

Ay mija.

She smiled.

I smiled.

She passed away five days later and I felt sad. Still do. Hard to picture strong, kind, salt-of-the-Earth people that I knew, that were part of my life, part of La Vecindad no longer being here.

🙂

I send her light, love, sunshine, and waves.

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Buen Camino …

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