Wednesday, April 06, 2005

My Grandmother

I sit here today in deep thought over the death of my grandmother who succumbed to cancer this past Friday. Tomorrow I will leave home for the funeral services which I’m sure will be emotionally draining for everyone involved. When speaking with family on the phone I can tell that everyone is emotionally spent already, but there still lingers this deep pain that seems not wanting to believe the end has arrived. Maybe there was a glimmer of hope in their hearts and minds; after all, my grandmother had fought the disease for two years and seemed to be willing to fight for many more years to come.

I guess you always expect that out of people who have overcome so much in their lives. Like maybe they have that one more great fight in them. Alas, the body can only take so much wear and tear over the years. I guess that’s the reality of life, one day all of our bodies will not be able to fight that one last fight and we will succumb.

There is a small part of me that thinks it would have been great to see my grandmother alive one last time. I had my plane ticket to visit this coming week but she passed six days before my arrival. I have no regrets about that. We had spoken over the phone and had an understanding between one another. I can’t really describe that understanding; I guess some people would call it a bond. There are just those people with whom you speak with no words said. Some of us have this bond with friends, if one were to die the other would know what his friend would want. The two may have never even spoken about post-life, but there would just be this understanding. I remember the last time we spoke on the phone. It was late and I called a bit intoxicated but happy to speak with her. I saw a CD by one of her favorite singers, Jose Alfredo Jimenez and threw it on. I always loved to sing his songs to my grandma and so I just sat there and sang song and after song and cried my eyes out telling her how much I loved her. She would laugh and say, “yo se, Mijo” (I know, Son) as to comfort me. Song after song I sang and she never skipped a beat on any of the songs. One song we both loved and one which I made sure to sing to her goes as follows:

Yo sé bien que estoy afuera
pero el día en que yo me muera
sé que tendrás que llorar

Llorar y llorar
llorar y llorar

Dirás que no me quisiste
pero vas a estar muy triste
y así te vas a quedar

Con dinero y sin dinero
hago siempre lo que quiero
y mi palabra es la ley
no tengo trono ni reina
ni nadie que me comprenda
pero sigo siendo el rey

Una piedra del camino
me enseñó que mi destino
era rodar y rodar

Rodar y rodar
rodar y rodar

Después me dijo un arriero
que no hay que llegar primero
pero hay que saber llegar

Con dinero y sin dinero
hago siempre lo que quiero
y mi palabra es la ley
no tengo trono ni reina
ni nadie que me comprenda
pero sigo siendo el rey.

My grandmother took care of me much of my life. I would come home after school and she would be at home after returning from working in the fields to have my after school lunch ready for me. I remember those days like they were yesterday. Now in my office here in NYC thousands of miles away from her home I can still smell her house and her homemade flour tortillas cooking (a very distinct smell indeed) on the comal.

I learned some of the most valuable lessons in life from my grandmother. I know that everyone rants and raves about how great someone is in death and I think that is needed. Yet, one of the things that I remember distinctly about my grandmother I her self critique. Not in a negative way, but she was always very critical about the way she lived her life and always took pride in saying when she was wrong (which wasn’t that often..haha!). I always found that to be one of the great qualities of my grandmother. She never lied to herself about when she was wrong. She was always accountable for her wrongdoings and although she wouldn’t always apologize for them, she did account for them. It’s something I feel many of us don’t do today…we are always looking to lay the blame on others.

No words can do my grandmother justice. So I will just end with this:

Maria Reyes
She was a Daughter of Mexico. Born to Parents who were servants on a hacienda. She claimed Texas as her soil and home upon arrival to the United States. A loyal wife who never re-married after the passing of her husband. She was the mother to three children, six grandchildren, and three great grandchildren; all of which called her Mom. A proud woman who tilled the earths ground working in the fields of the United States and also packaged that harvest at night working in a cannery. In sum, she was my life, my joy and my heart and she will be missed. Mom, may you soul rest my beautiful Queen and please save me a seat next to you up above. And just maybe you can have me a nice hot tortilla waiting upon my arrival as you always had here on earth.

Con Amor Tu Mijo,
Joaquin Manuel Ochoa Reyes

7 Comments:

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Felicia :) said...

Fantastic tribute. I wish you the very best during this trying week ahead of you.

Dios te bendiga.

 
At 3:10 PM, Blogger Ignatious said...

wonderful and touching post. i'm sorry for your loss.

 
At 7:11 AM, Blogger Joanne1111 said...

I am truly sorry for your loss.

I wish I would have had the chance to know my Grandparents the way you knew her.

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger Dr. Pauly said...

Amazing tribute. Sorry for your tremendous loss.

 
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