Tag Archives: Juan Pablo

Stage 1 of Coming of Age in Mexico

Stage 1 of Coming of Age in Mexico: Yoli’s First Communion

Please click on the photos to enlarge them and to read captions.

 

Although I arrived ten minutes before Yoli’s first communion service began, Yolanda ( her mother and my housekeeper/friend of 18 years) and family must have arrived very early for they were in the second row of the church. Not willing to walk that long aisle and find there was no room left in their pew, I sat near the back, a choice I was grateful for once the incense dispersal started. Luckily, I was in an area between two open doors, so ventilation was better than it would have been trapped in the front where most of the action with the censer  was taking place. Nonetheless, I interrupted the mood with a few sneezes. The elderly lady next to me was shocked to discover I wasn’t a Catholic. Other than that, the service went smoothly except for the mother in front of me, who kept laying her daughter’s candle on the top of the pew in front of her. All three times, it was mistakenly knocked off to the floor when the woman sitting in that pew sat down again after rising for some part of the ritual. After the hour-long service, I took Yoli and her family out to Viva Mexico for lunch. Since the family of Juan Pablo’s girlfriend had three boys doing their first communion as well, they were invited to come along so our table grew from ten to eighteen, counting Luz Maria, age 6 months, whose mother Alejandra I counseled at a summer camp for children at these very tables five years ago. In case you are curious,  HERE are photos from that camp. Alejandra is the graceful dancer in Levis and camp T-shirt, second from the right. Time passes too quickly.The next time I show photos of Yoli in a long white dress and veil, she’ll probably be a bride!! Hopefully ten years or more from now.

Birthday Reflections

What person doesn’t, as they approach and then enter the year in their life that marks the year a parent died, feel some trepidation? My father, my grandfather and even my husband died at the age of 70, and some little perversity of my mind has feared all year long that I would join them.  All my life, I have avoided black cats who crossed my path and walking under ladders. When I spill salt, I throw a bit over my left shoulder, just in case. It is not that I believe, necessarily , in these superstitions, but nonetheless, I avoid them. So it is with dangers in my seventieth year.  I stayed home more.  Avoided crowds and travel. I wrote more. Got my house in order—to a degree. I lavished attention on my animals, hoping they would remember me fondly, found surrogate parents for all but the cats. 

Poor cats.  I think those cats, however, represented that sane part of me who knew I would survive this milestone. I would be here to care for them for a good many years.  Perhaps twenty-one. Perhaps twenty-six.  My mother died at the age of 91, my paternal grandmother at 96. Perhaps it would be their genetic makeup in me that would determine my lifespan.  All ridiculous meanderings of a mind left too much in solitude, by choice.  Today I turned 71, riddled by amoebas as I was last year in the week approaching my birthday, but battling back.

Last night one of my best and oldest friends called to talk me into my birthday.  As we talked, Forgottenman sent a Happy Birthday message precisely at Midnight. I opened the cards sent by my sister.  She said they were pre-birthday cards. I await the official one. 

When my alarm went off at 8 this morning to awaken me for my morning dose of antibiotics, dogs and cats remained silent. A strange occurrence.  Usually, at the first signs of my stirring, they set up their morning cacophony. This morning, however, all remained silent.  It was fifteen minutes later, after I’d read Facebook greetings and checked blog statistics, that they set up a terrific clamor.  I heard a gate creak open, although no one was scheduled for work this morning.  A key turned in the front lock. My bedroom door opened.  It was Yolanda and family: Juan Pablo, Oscar, and Yoli, with chihuahua Bryan in arms. Oscar carried flowers. Juan Pablo a gift. It was a surprise early-morning birthday visit before they all drove Yolanda to work in La Ribera. I made coffee, poured fruit juice for the kids and small shots of a special pistachio mescal for the adults. Not me, as I’m on antibiotics. We took photos, tried to introduce Bryan the dog to my dogs.  Oscar cracked open the door to the doggie domain just a bit. My dogs, sniffing and curious, were friendly.  Bryan, the runt, snarled to assert his authority, there in the arms of Oscar, his protector.

We took photos and they departed. The amoebas that seemed to be in abeyance yesterday have returned full-fold.  The late afternoon lunch I had planned with friends, (a tentative appointment since they all, too, are suffering from amoebas) will probably not happen after all. My appointment with a doctor will. I’ll see her for relief from this yearly visitor that, when it departs, always leaves me with an increased enjoyment of life and health. A profound appreciation of just feeling normal. 

As I looked for something to remove from my laptop so I could move the photos you’ll see below there to work with them, I found this poem written a few months ago.  I’ve printed it before and then forgotten it, but reading it today as a stranger might, I realized that it encapsulates a lot of what I’ve been feeling this past year; so here it is again, read with a new appreciation of what it means. 

Swimming to Sandy Bottom

Working my way to sandy bottom,
through murky waters growing clear.
Through all the things I daily think of
down to the plain facts that I fear.

Swimming down to sandy bottoms,
down to past truths and future fears.
The daily details float behind as
I face old matters in arrears.

If my whole life should tell a story,
how do the details all add up?
I’ve always thought time was a sieve, but
perhaps I’ll find it was a cup.

Working my way to sandy bottom,
the flotsam of my years floats near.
All the past terrors and past glories,
and future truths I’ve come to fear.

Working my way to sandy bottom,
no oxygen to draw my breath.
Working our ways to sandy bottom,
we spend our lives to buy our death.

All the glories and the triumphs.
All the failures and the fears.
All the trophies we’ve collected,
and all the tattered, used-up years.

Working our ways to sandy bottoms,
will there be gold grains in the sands?
Too late to spend discovered riches,
they slip like lives right through our hands.

Working our ways to sandy bottoms,
our lives lift up as we swim down,
As we leave the past behind us,
we find our future all around.

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