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Wednesday, February 18, 2009It Was A Good Day
According to the family grapevine the bad days had been out numbering the good. She hoped he was having a good day. She studied the photo. It was a recent photo and his face still bore traces of the handsome young man he’d been. He was one of the few men she’d ever met in her life whose name suited him. Angel, his name was Angel and next to her grandmother, his mother, he had the prettiest blue eyes she’d ever seen. But it wasn't just his striking good looks that made her think his name suited him, it was his personality as well. He was laid back and had an aura of kindness and gentleness that always surrounded him. In all her life she'd never heard him raise his voice in anger.
He’d always been quick of wit and smile flashing the deep dimples that were the family trademark. He’d taught her how to ride on his ranch when she was a little girl and when he saw that she’d inherited his love of horses he gifted her with a chestnut brown gelding of her own. For as long as she could remember he’d called her La hija de mi Corazon (daughter of my heart).
Mom took in a deep breath and steadied herself as she dialed the number to her cousin’s home in Aragon. Her cousin answered the phone she was happy my mother had called. It would do him good to hear his favorite niece’s voice she said.
“Prima he’s not very strong I won’t be bringing him back to the United States, he’s gotten worse.”
My mother nodded her head as if her cousin could see it on the other side of the phone. She swallowed hard fighting back tears. She’d recently lost one of her beloved uncles, Angel’s younger brother and she knew she’d be losing this one as well.
“I understand prima.”
I listened as my mother’s Spanish took on a different accent from the Spanish she speaks at home to my father. My dad has a hard time understanding Spanish but when she speaks it with the Castilian accent she grew up speaking Spanish with it’s harder for him. As a result she’s adopted the Puerto Rican accented Spanish of his family. Still there are times when she’s unguarded that she has a slight accent. This was one of those times. I love these times. Her Spanish is soothing and gentle.
“I’m going to put you on speaker phone he’s been having a hard time holding onto things” her cousin said.
“’tabien (ok)” mom replied.
“Bendicion Tio Angel ” (blessings uncle)
“Dios y la virgin Maria te me bendiga” ( God and the Virgin Mary bless you), y que los angeles te favorescan (may the angels favor you.)
"Gracias, tio." (thank you uncle)
“Who are you?” he asked.
“She’s your niece Maggie papa.” his daughter said.
“You’re my niece. I’m sorry I don’t know who you are. I can’t remember much anymore. They tell me I’ve been sick.”
“It’s okay Tio I just wanted to hear your voice.”
“Whose child are you?” he asked
“I’m Delia’s daughter."
“Yes. Your sister.”
“Delia, the little one, my sister.”
“Do you look like Delia?”
“No sir I don’t."
“ You have such a lovely voice. You sound just like mama.”
There was some noise in the background as his daughter pulled a frame photo off the wall to give him a visual of my mother.
“Here papa this is Maggie.” his daughter said.
“You have beautiful eyes, very dark and you’re very fair. You are the spitting image of mama except you don’t have blue eyes or blonde hair. ”
“You are very lovely. Oh yes we are definitely related, you look like me.”
“Yes I do.”
“You take after the Irish side of the family just like me.”
“That’s what abuela (grandmother) always said.”
“Whose child are you?” he asked again.
“She had long red hair, beautiful hair. So tiny. Are you small like her?”
“No, I am several inches taller.”
“My mother is tall.”
“Yes, abuela was 5ft 10, very tall tio.”
“I am tall too. Though I think I am shrinking.” he joked.
Mom frowned, she couldn’t imagine her uncle shrinking.
“Is he really shrinking prima?” she asked.
her cousin laughed.
“Ay dios mio, this man! No Maggie he is not shrinking. He’s still 6ft 8.”
“I feel like I’m shrinking or maybe it’s just that I’m old. Old people shrink. We leave this world the same way we came in, small, baggy skin, bald, toothless, and wearing diapers.”
“Hija, Where are you from?” he asked mom.
“I live in the United States in New York tio.”
“Why are you over there? A young woman should not live far from her family, especially her tios. You should come back home to Spain. How can I watch over you if you are over there?”
“It’s okay tio I have someone to watch over me here.”
Mom sighed, her uncle did not remember her being married, and she doubted he’d remember my father or her kids today. The last time she’d spoken to her uncle he had asked about them all, recalling them in great detail.
“Yes, tio I am married.”
“Are you happy mi bella (my beauty) does he treat you well?”
“I am very happy; he is a very good man.”
“I’ll have to meet him. If I don’t approve of him I will bring you back home.”
“Yes sir. I heard my cousins have been calling to check up on you.”
the last time her brother had called he hadn’t remembered him at all and he’d been hurt.
“People call me all the time but I can’t remember them all. “
“That’s okay papa; they all love you and just want to hear the sound of your voice.”
“I’ve been ill.”
“I know” his daughter replied.
“Do you love me too mi bella?” he asked of my mother.
“With all my heart” she replied.
“I know I love you very much as well. My chest feels warm.”
“Are you okay tio, are you feeling sick?”
He laughed it was a weaker version of the deep laugh he’d always had.
“I am fine nena. It’s the love I have for you that is making me warm.”
Mom and her cousin laughed. He was always a charmer.
“Tan Bella que eres mi nina ( you’re so beautiful little girl).Will you come visit me in Spain?”
“If I can tio.”
“I’ll take you riding in the mountains hija de mi Corazon. You always loved horses . We won’t tell mama I let you ride bareback. You know she hates that. Young ladies are never supposed to ride without a saddle.”
Thirty minutes later ma hung up the phone and sat in silence. It was a good day. Tio Angel had remembered her. He remembered how they rode and how they’d painted side by side. He remembered how she’d snuggle in his lap and star gaze. He remembered the charm bracelet he’d brought her as a child and how every year on her birthday he’d added a charm. Most of all he remembered how much they’d loved each other.
Mom was far away in her thoughts when dad approached. “Babe, how’d it go?” he asked with more than a hint of concern on his face. Mom looked up at him and smiled wiping a tear from her eye. “It was a good day, a very good day.” She replied.
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