Five Days, Five Photos, Five Stories, Day 1
Lighting a Candle for San Antonio
When I arrived home and found the candle burning next to the virgin of Guadalupe on the counter between my kitchen and dining room, I took a fast survey. It wasn’t mother’s day as there was no photo of my mother next to it. The celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe was months away. It wasn’t Dia de los Muertos. What could this new conflagration represent?
I had left soon after Yolanda arrived in the morning. She had run out to the car with coffee in my go mug and a bottle of water. Sweet Yolanda, who was half mother, half sister. She had been helping me since I moved to Mexico fourteen years before: cleaning my house, bringing a local healer to my house when I was ill to “cure” me via massage, now and then bringing her babies for me to dance around my house as she cleaned or ironed or washed clothes.
We had a wonderful symbiotic relationship. She made my house a home and relieved me from tedious tasks so I could write. I was her chief bank and no-interest loan officer…loaning the money for their new house, more land, a new used car when theirs was totaled by a drunk with no insurance. She always paid me back, either via installments deducted from her salary or in lump sums sometime down the line.
Yolanda, Pasiano my gardener, their families and I went on short vacations together to the Guadalajara zoo or to see the wildflowers in Tapalpa, loading up my full-sized van to capacity. This happens in Mexico. Your gardener and housekeeper become your extended family and you become theirs.
So it is that Yolanda occasionally sets me right in the world as well. The first year I didn’t build a Day of the Dead altar for my husband, she queried. “Oh, so you no longer miss your husband?” I built a shrine. On mother’s day, she was the one who moved my mother’s picture from the guest bedroom onto the counter next to the virgin and lit a candle.
What was the candle for this time? I asked her on Wednesday, when she arrived for one of her three-times-weekly three hour sessions. This time, Senora, it was for San Antonio. He was the finder of lost things, and we had been searching in vain for weeks for the lost cord and microphone for my amplifier. The bowl of water under the glass with the candle in it was to cool the glass so it didn’t shatter.
I had let the candle burn all day until I went to bed. When Yolanda arrived two days later, she lit it again. Then hours after her arrival as I still sat at my computer blogging my blog, she came into the room carrying a large Ziploc plastic bag. It was the cord and mike!
“Where did you find it?” I asked.
“It was in with the sheets,” she answered.
“We’ve been losing a lot of things lately,” I said. “Remember when we looked for weeks for my bag of lost keys and I found them in the drawer with the light bulbs?”
“Yes,” she answered. “And do you remember that I lit a candle that day as well?”
Let me say right now that I am not a religious person. I don’t pray, although now and then in a really stressful situation, I will address the God of my youth. But, I am coming to have faith in Yolanda. When she tells me to light a candle, I do so. And I’ve never missed a Day of the Dead Shrine since her last reminder.
I was nominated by Irene Waters for this challenge. You can see her first day’s submission HERE.