Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Visit X 2 (10)

Several months into Mauricia's new life proved to be a challenge but she felt welcomed by her half brothers and sisters. She understood not everyone like Maria Guadalupe or her mother would receive her with open arms but she respected everyone's difference of opinion. Mauricia was content with having a home, family, and being close to her father. Mauricia did not take long before she began to volunteer at the church in Salinas de Hidalgo giving communion classes to 40 children every weekend. Aside from teaching, Mauricia sang in the choir, when time permitted, as she also had to tend to Teresa. Many times Maria del Carmen would accompany Mauricia to church to help her with Teresa or participate with her in classes. Both sisters grew very close and formed a bond they both knew would be lifelong.

"Mauricia!" called out Maria del Carmen, "Julia is at the door!" Mauricia ran to the door to see what was the matter. Julia worked at the church with Mauricia on the weekends. Julia asked, "Mauricia, Doña Inez is ill, and will not be able to sing in this afternoons choir to sing the Angelus in Latin and your the only other person that can do it, will you be able to go?" Mauricia responded, "Of course, let me make arrangements to go and I will be there this afternoon." Mauricia turns around to look at Maria del Carmen and said, "Maria del Carmen, would you go with me to watch Teresa while I sing and then we can walk around in the Plaza?" Maria del Carmen was hesitant as she rarely left the house only to go on errands or to church on the weekends. "I don't know Mauricia. I can watch Teresa here in the house." "Ay Maria del Carmen, you never know. Maybe God is your matchmaker. You will never find your future husband sitting here in the house instead of going to church with me!" Maria del Carmen throws Mauricia a washcloth and tells her to get ready and says, "You think you know everything. Lately, Mario from the choir has been coming by to visit me when no one is around. Of course, we sit out here on the bench and converse." Mauricia anxiously wraps her arm around her sister and asks, "So do you like Mario?" Ma. del Carmen responds, "I think so, he's a gentleman, and we have much in common." "Wonderful!" Mauricia yells out. "Now I do not feel bad leaving you here. Let me get ready."

Mauricia bathed and after getting dressed ran by Ma. del Carmen to confirm she was leaving and to kiss Teresa goodbye. Five o'clock mass was about to begin and Father Eduardo did not like anyone to be late before mass. Mauricia makes it to the church with six minutes to spare as the house is several blocks away from the main avenue. Everyone in the choir took their places and mass began. Many things ran through Mauricia's mind at that moment while she was listening to mass. She said a prayer thanking God for a roof over her head, food, family, and a healthy daughter. The moment for Mauricia to sing the Angelus came along and she stood up to sing. Mauricia had a beautiful voice and everyone enjoyed listening to her sing. Meanwhile, outside the church in the plaza a military troop begins to ride into town.

"Whoa! Stop your horses! I said Stop!" as the comandante ordered his troop. The comandante gets off his horse and said, "Am I in heaven? It sounds like an angel is singing. Who is that and where is it coming from?" A farmer passes by with his cart and he asked the man who was singing. The man shrugs his shoulders and asked if he could leave. A woman approaches the comandante, "I know who is singing!" The comandante asked her to come to him and she said, "It's Mauricia Delgado, she just moved here a couple of months ago." The comandante stands in silence then orders the woman to find Mauricia and bring her to him. The woman shocked and scared does as he says and runs to the church. She whispers in Mauricia's ear about the request and Mauricia goes with her to see what the commotion is about. The comandante remains standing by his horse and his troop behind him waiting for orders. As Mauricia approaches him she stops before him and says, "My name is Mauricia Delgado, who is looking for me?" The comandante answers, "It is I that requested for you, Carlos Manriquez, your brother." Mauricia screams, "Mi Niño!" (my boy), as they hug.

Carlos orders his troop to rest in the plaza as he sits at a bench with Mauricia. While holding hands tightly, she caresses his face with the other hand and asks him how he has been. Crying, Carlos begins to tell Mauricia about the death of the woman who took him from his mother's home. After the woman passed, after moving out of state, he was sent to live with an uncle who owned a ranch. His uncle was a passive fellow but his wife was always beating him and asking him to do hard labor around the house. "Mauricia, all I ever wanted to do was get an education. They never sent me to school. My uncles wife said you did not want me or else you would have found me. I ran away at the age of twelve, angry at the world. I walked for three straight days through the mountains and came along a circus. I joined them and stayed for three years. After the circus, I found the military and lied about my age to get in." Mauricia gasps, "Carlos I do not agree with you being in the military. We have finally found each other and I do not want to lose you now." Carlos nods in agreement, "Please understand sister, I did not care what happened to me. I felt I belonged to no one. I thought no one loved me and till this day do not believe in friends and the only thing I believed in was myself. By joining the military I felt if I died no one would care if I was here or gone. Some days I wished for death." Mauricia tells him, "Carlos, how can you wish for death if God does not grant wishes, he answers prayers." Carlos laughed and continued to tell Mauricia, "I have completed the most difficult assignments in the military as I feared nothing and no one, that is why I'm a comandante. Now I have a reason to live sister." Carlos looks around to determine the time and tells Mauricia, "I must go, my troop is heading north and we must continue before nightfall." "Carlos" Mauricia interrupted him and said, "I need somewhere to contact you, do you have an address?" Carlos wrote down the address she could use to send him correspondence. Carlos digs in his horse's satchel and pulls out a small photograph. He hands over the photograph to Mauricia and said, "Here, we had these made to send out to our loved ones but as I had no one to send it to I've carried it with me all this time. Mauricia, please keep it as a remembrance of me." "Of course Carlos, and we mustn't lose contact, please." Mauricia says as she hugs him goodbye. Carlos gets back on his horse and yells for his men to follow. Mauricia stands in the plaza clutching his photograph as he rides away to whatever destination is in store for him. Mauricia thinks to herself, "Was this a dream? She looks down at her photograph and realizes they found each other. Elated she goes back to the church to light a candle to her mother and many other deceased relatives she thinks may have led to their reunion. As Mauricia is running to the church she thinks, "I hope I have enough candles!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Open the Door and Run!

Writing my grandmother's story has proven to be beneficial, not only for myself but my family. I am beginning to see we were not all familiar with her life. Many of my family members carry bits and pieces of stories or conversations they had with my grandmother throughtout her lifetime. Unfortunately, many of us, including myself, are so caught up with making ends meet or running in this rat race called life we forget to see the smaller and more important things around us. We forget to look at ourselves, our families, and surroundings. I love to read but there are many nights I get home and am lucky enough to cook a meal, sit down and eat with the family, wash dishes, sign paperwork, and go over anything I need to do the following day or look out for the rest of the week.

I tell my children day in and day out, it IS important to know all types of history. Everything has an origin. I witnessed my grandmother's void and how it affected her personally. She felt incomplete as her life gave her many downfalls but you would not have thought that by meeting her. She continued her strong faith in her religion and her family. Regardless of what she went through she had faith we would all succeed no matter what mistakes we made along the way. By researching everything about her, there are many similarities to her life and my own I am now beginning to see. I won't divulge any details at this point but for my friends that truly know me, definitely know I have had my share of downfalls. I wish I would have known a lot more of the things I know now about my grandmother to prove that I was not alone in my struggles. Like I tell everyone around me, "I'm not the first, nor will I be the last person to experience suffering, so don't pity me."

I think we need to pity ignorance. Don't get me wrong, ignorance not of people that do not have the knowledge. I am referring to the ingnorance we are all guilty of. Many of us have the tools and knowledge around us to understand each other, and our surroundings but we do not bother to go that extra mile to educate ourselves about anything outside our own circle. We need to step out of that circle to experience life, not seclude ourselves. I know I'm talking off the hip, and many people do not have the money to travel or be educated. I don't think that's true. I had no money and found a way to get my education and as far as traveling I along with other friends and family have traveled to different states in the U.S. and on my own went as far as Belize to visit different ruins in Quintana Roo and stay with friends along the way. Learn from others, read books, drive somewhere but don't stay put! Life is too short.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Photograph (9)

The next morning Maria del Carmen gave Mauricia a tour around the house. Mauricia and Maria del Carmen immediately came together as they were both curiously drawn to each other. When they arrived in the parlor Mauricia notices photographs along a dresser and admires them. "Oh, Maria del Carmen, your picture is beautiful! Where did you take that photograph?" asked Mauricia. Maria del Carmen answered, "Our father paid for each of us to take a photograph for his birthday this last year." Mauricia thought of photographs as a luxury. Not everyone she knew possessed one, and if they had them displayed at home that meant they were distinguished. This new life she was beginning to experience was hard for her to believe. Both ladies bumped into Don Leopoldo in the hall on his way to the store and he told Mauricia if she needed anything to call him.

Carmela appeared in the kitchen for breakfast and Maria del Carmen served her eggs and coffee with a piece of sweet bread on the side. Carmela introduced herself but Mauricia sensed a feeling of hypocrisy from her when she spoke to her at the breakfast table. "Mauricia I expect that you will pitch in the household duties as you can see Maria del Carmen is exceptional at that. I am too busy in my society groups and church to tend to this household and Maria del Carmen has always liked doing this. Is that not right, Maria del Carmen?" "Of course mother." Maria del Carmen kept her answer short as she did not want to continue the conversation with her mother. Carmela sips her coffee one last time and walks off while saying, "Oh! Make sure you wash the floors in the parlor, I plan on having company this weekend."

Mauricia stared at Maria del Carmen and asked, "are you forced to do the work around here?" "Of course not, I actually enjoy taking care of my family. Besides, it's good practice for when the time comes for me to get married and have a family. You know Mauricia, I cannot wait to get married one day and have a home of my own to tend to." Mauricia touches Maria del Carmen's hand and says, "I hope you find a man that is appreciative enough of the woman you are and builds you a castle!" Maria del Carmen gasps then lets out a giggle when she responds, "Mauricia! We're lucky enough to find a man that does not beat or cheats on us, don't say such frivolous things!"

Andres and Miguel came in a bit later as they had to get to their classes. Andres was an apprentice at a Barber shop and Miguel was studying to be an accountant. Both men did not say much as they devoured their food. They both took turns playing with Teresa. Teresa laughed as she gave each man a piece of her sweet bread and they made funny faces. A short time after both men left, Maria Guadalupe strolled into the kitchen and took her time eating while asking Mauricia questions of where she was born and who was Teresa's father. Fortunately, Maria del Carmen told Maria Guadalupe, "Stop that! There you go again, putting your nose where your not supposed to! What did father say about that?" "It's not wrong of me to ask, I think we should all know Carmen." Maria Guadalupe rudely responded.

Maria Guadalupe finished her food and told Maria del Carmen she would be out and about with her friends as they were planning a social gathering at one of her friends house. Mauricia thought "The apple did not fall far from the tree; Maria Guadalupe was almost identical to her mother in personality." Maria del Carmen told Mauricia, "We will not have to worry about Maria Guadalupe that long. She is engaged to be married and will be leaving in several months. My parents are very happy as her fiance has his own grocery store. Mother is excited because she sees more financial options for the family and father is happy as he is content she will not go hungry and will be taken care of." Mauricia began to see the differences in priorities between her father and Carmela.

"What do you want to do now Mauricia?" asked Maria del Carmen. Curiosity was killing Mauricia and she asked, "Why are you so nice to me?" Maria del Carmen looked at her and said, "Your my sister Mauricia, regardless of how you came along, God made us sisters for a reason." Shocked by her kindness Mauricia told Maria del Carmen, "You are such a good person Maria del Carmen, not many people see things in that way, I've always been called a bastard and you treat me like family without even knowing me." Maria del Carmen assured her, "Don't worry so much Mauricia, you have us now and your a Delgado. Father made that very clear to each one of us many times. He spoke of you as if you were around us all the time, hoping to find you one day. Now Mauricia, what do you want to do?" Mauricia answered, "First I'll help you clean the floor and then I want to talk to Don Leopoldo, I mean father, about getting a photograph taken of myself." After cleaning the parlor floor both ladies talk to Don Leopoldo of Mauricia's wish and he hands over some money to Mauricia and tells her to call the photographer to make arrangements. The photographer arrived that same day and asked where to set up but in her hurry to take the photograph, Mauricia forgets they oiled the parlor floor and it was still wet. Mauricia decided to take the photograph outside in the patio.

A week later the photographer dropped off Mauricia's photograph to the house and handed it over to Carmela, who laughed when she opened the package. Carmela showed it to her children stating, "What an ignorant! She took a photograph outside. This is not an appropriate photograph. What a waste of money!" Mauricia walks in and overhears her comments. Mauricia asked Carmela, "Is that my photograph?" Carmela handed over the package and said, "Yes, Mauricia here it is. The photographer just dropped it off. What made you think of taking the photograph outside?" Mauricia looked down at her package sadly and said, "I do not know, the floor was wet and I did not want to waste the photographers time and thought of the patio. I don't care if it looks foolish, I am excited I have a photograph of myself. I hardly remember my mother, and having a photograph of myself is priceless for me to pass on to my daughter." She walks out of the room as Maria del Carmen just shakes her head in disgust over her mother's comments. Once Mauricia walks out of the door to head back to the bedroom her frown turns into a large smile. The only thing on her mind at that moment is, "I have a photograph and it's mine!"
(Both photographs are of the real Maria del Carmen on top and Mauricia on the bottom)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A New Leaf (8)

"Next stop! Salinas de Hidalgo, San Luis Potosi!" The train attendant yelled. Mauricia started gathering her belongings over one shoulder and propped a sleeping Teresa over the other. Once again, Mauricia had to figure out how she would locate her way to the address she had in her hand. Mauricia asked the woman at the ticket window, at the train station, the direction she should be heading. The woman told her to go through the main doors and there would be buses that could take her where she needed to go. Mauricia heads out the front doors but is perplexed by the commotion in the streets. She feels disoriented and stops a fruit vendor to ask which bus can she take that will drop her off closer to her father's home. The fruit vendor tells her to catch the bus named "La Novia", which translates to "the girlfriend", and to let the driver know her destination so he can drop her off at the right place.

"La Novia" comes around the corner and the bus driver starts honking to warn passengers of its arrival. Mauricia hurries to get in line. As Mauricia gets in to sit down, she tells the driver her father's address and he assures her he knows where to go and have a seat. "I'll yell at you when we get close by, ok?" as the bus driver confirms with Mauricia. Ten blocks into the drive the bus driver says, "Lady! The colonia is right over there to the left passing this church. Once you walk two blocks down that street, Calle Ordon should be on your right." "Thank you sir for your help!" Mauricia says as she gets off.

By now Teresa is awake and fussy but luckily Mauricia split the sweet bread into pieces for her to eat in intervals. Mauricia pulls out another piece of sweet bread and hands it over to Teresa telling her, "Please Teresa, wait a little bit longer and I'll feed you, can you wait?" "Si mama." Teresa responds as she shoves the bread in her mouth. When they turn the corner to get to Calle Ordon, Mauricia notices a grocery store at the corner with the name Delgado on top. Mauricia smiles at Teresa and says, "Teresa, we must be rich!"

Mauricia walks into the grocery store as that is the location of the address Cipriana gave her. A tall, heavy set, man walks to the front of the store and asks what she needed. Mauricia responds to him, "My name is Mauricia Delgado and I am looking for Leopoldo Delgado, I am his daughter." The man's eyes widen as he comes around the counter and hugs Mauricia while telling her he is Leopoldo Delgado. In Leopoldo's elation he tells Mauricia, "I never thought I would see you! I would have personally picked you up myself if I knew where you were when your mother died." Mauricia pushes him away slightly and says, "I am sorry Mr. Delgado, I need some space. A couple of days ago I found out the man I thought was my father was not. I was then told about your relationship with my mother and your identity. I do not mean to disrespect you in any way, I am getting used to this situation and I appreciate you taking my daughter and myself into your home. I hope I do not cause any problems within your household." Mr. Delgado guarantees there is no problem as he tells her a little about his home life. "Mauricia, let me tell you, I loved your mother and did not intend to hurt her. My marriage was never a true relationship, and my wife always had lovers. I was always busy with work, as a distributor, and when I found out about her secrets, I knew I deserved to be with someone that loved me. I met your mother and intended to divorce Carmela, due to infidelity, but when your mother found out I was still married, she cut all communication with me and moved to another area. Now that I have said my piece, I hope we can establish some kind of relationship." Mauricia responded, "Of course, we'll have more than enough time to talk about things." Mr. Delgado informed Mauricia she had two half brothers and half sisters. Their names were, Maria Guadalupe, Maria Del Carmen, Andres, and Miguel.

Mr. Delgado tells Mauricia to stay in the store with him until it is time to shut down so he can introduce her appropriately to the family. Mr. Delgado makes Mauricia and Teresa sandwiches. While they are eating Mauricia asked, "Do they know I exist?" Mr. Delgado responded, "They know about you. I told everyone about you when we had our last child, Maria del Carmen, a year after your birth. I was tired of living a lie and I promised to stay in this marriage for the children. Now that they are older, and beginning to lead their own paths, Carmela and I live separate lives. Carmela has never changed and she doesn't have any say so about you staying with us. If she bothers you, tell me Mauricia." The chime on the clock goes off as it is 9:00 p.m. Mr. Delgado turns off the lights and begins to walk Mauricia to the front of the store to lock the door and says, "It's time for us to go home, can I carry my granddaughter?"

Around the corner of the family grocery store was the house. The house was two stories and a beautiful shade of blue, dark, and striking. Mauricia was holding her breath wondering what was awaiting her behind the front doors. Mr. Delgado announces he is home and within a couple of minutes her half brothers and sisters run out to see the stranger that arrived with their father. I would like for you to meet your sister, Mauricia and your niece, Teresa. Everyone cordially shake her hand and greet Teresa. Mauricia's half brother's are more distant but observant through the whole situation. Maria Guadalupe the eldest daughter seems more aloof. She tells Mauricia, "Oh hello, how are you? So your the daughter father had in that town somewhere in the mountains? Hmmm, interesting, as she inspects Mauricia's attire from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. Maria Del Carmen pushes her sister out of the way and immediately offers to take Mauricia's things to their room when their eyes meet. Mauricia says, "We look alike." "So we do", laughs Ma. del Carmen. Mauricia is astounded at the similarities and happily walks with Ma. del Carmen back to her room for a good nights rest.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Waking Up (7)

"Mama, mama, wake up!" Teresa said as she poked Mauricia from under the covers. Mauricia tugs back at the covers hiding her face from the sunlight. "Stop Teresa, un momento", Mauricia responds in a groggy voice. She starts to regain her thoughts and musters the courage to get out of bed. Teresa whined "I'm hungry". "Alright, mi niña." Mauricia lovingly responded. Mauricia tidied up the room and dressed Teresa and herself before heading out to the kitchen.

Cipriana and Eduardo sat in the kitchen finishing breakfast when Mauricia and Teresa walk in. "Good morning Mauricia," Cipriana announces and gives Teresa a kiss on the cheek as she reaches over to hug her. Cipriana informs Mauricia, "Lucia left early this morning to San Juan, she told me what happened last night. My dear God, Mauricia, I am so sorry." Mauricia stopped Cipriana before she went any further into the conversation and said, "I have felt sorry for myself too long and I do not want any more pity. Please Cipriana, let's not discuss this topic any further." Cipriana agreed, "As you wish Mauricia, just convince Eduardo not to attack Francisco for hurting your pride." Eduardo exclaims, "Don't let me see him alone in the streets! He deserves a good beating for the humiliation he's put you through!" Mauricia responds, "You won't do such a thing! Not one of us will act as depraved as he or his family did. What's done is done, I am hurt, yes but today is another day and Francisco is a married man. Whatever happened was a horrible nightmare, but now I am awake and ready to move on. Beating Francisco will only get you or the family into problems." "That's true Eduardo." Cipriana interjects as she puts her arm on his shoulder to calm him down.

As Mauricia is washing dishes after breakfast, she begins to tell Cipriana what she is planning. "Cipriana, I am not a coward, nor do I run away from my problems. I left this town before because it reminded me of how much pain I had gone through. Now that Francisco is married, and the humiliation of seeing him or any of his family anywhere in town will only hurt me more. Cipriana, I am tired of fighting the world, I am tired, I want to leave." Cipriana said, "I knew you might say that, and now is a better time to tell you what I was intending to inform you the night of your dilemma. Mauricia, your father, Manuel, was not your real father." Mauricia in shock asks, "What are you talking about? Why did my mother not say anything? Why?" Cipriana puts her hand up and says, "Stop asking questions and listen! Let me finish." Cipriana proceeded to tell Mauricia, "Manuel married your mother after you were born, and Delgado is not his grandmother's family name as they told you. Delgado is your true father's last name, his name is Leopoldo Delgado. Your mother met your father as he traveled for business, as a distributor, and she fell in love with him. One of his co-workers told her he was married and she cut off the relationship while she was pregnant with you. Your mother was very hurt that he lied but proceeded to go on with her life when she met Manuel. Manuel could never have children and he recognized you as his child, in his eye's you were his child. That is why, Mauricia, there were no other children until after his death." Mauricia was speechless, Cipriana continued to say, "Recently, your real father has inquired about your whereabouts when he heard you were in town. He found out about your mother's death but was not aware about what happened to you. I have corresponded with him about you and Teresa, and he is very interested in meeting you both. Mauricia, think about this and let me know if you would like to go to Salinas." Cipriana gets up and goes back to her room to rest as the sun and the conversation had physically and emotionally tired her.

Mauricia paces back and forth in her room as Teresa is playing with her stuffed doll on the bed. "Should I go see this man that I've never known, who is my real father or should I go to a new town to look for a better life alone?" Mauricia thought about it over and over, as Teresa is very young. The risks she would take to go to a new town alone outweighed the risks of her meeting her father and any family she has in Salinas. Mauricia prayed about it and made up her mind, "Teresa, we're going to Salinas."

That night Mauricia talked to Cipriana and Eduardo about her decision. Cipriana provided the information she needed to find her father in Salinas. Mauricia thanked them for helping her and Teresa and accepting them into their family. Cipriana gave Mauricia some money and prepared some tacos and put sweet bread in a pail for her to take on the trip.

Early Monday morning everyone is at the train station. Mauricia is anxiously waiting for the train to arrive as the morning breeze is too cool for Cipriana and Teresa to tolerate. "The train is here!" Eduardo yells out and hurries Mauricia and Teresa, with their belongings, to the train. Mauricia gives Cipriana a hug as Cipriana blesses both of them and Mauricia promises to keep in touch. As Mauricia gets on the train and sits down, she looks back and wonders if this will be the last time she sees Cipriana. Mauricia begins to cry as she is leaving behind the only family life she ever experienced. She hugs Teresa tightly, and buries her head in her small torso, praying that the decision she has made is the correct one.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Happy Couple (6)

"Please doctor, come inside, we do not know what else to do." Francisco's cousin, Julio, explained. "For the past two days, Francisco has been coughing up black mucus, and having night sweats. What is this?" As the doctor examined Francisco he said, "I don't think it's black lung, he's too young. Although, he has been working at the mines almost ten years, it's hard to say." Second guessing himself, the doctor again responded, "I wouldn't be surprised though if he has black lung, you never know. This is a mining town, and most of our boys who start out early in the mines are lucky not to get gravely ill before fifty." "Let me see what I can do."

Julio rushed to Francisco's parent's home to bring them over to discuss Francisco's illness. His parents cautiously kept track of the doctor's words, and Don Ruperto asked, "Do you see any signs of improvement for my son soon?" The doctor responded, "I cannot assure anything at this stage of his illness as we do not know how long he has been sick before exhibiting symptoms. His fever has not gone down, and I've given him a sedative to sleep and antibiotics to help with any infection." Doña Rocio gave Don Ruperto a worried look and cried, "What are we going to do now? I pray that we do not lose our son, Ruperto!" The only response Don Ruperto gave was, "I do not either but if my son dies, he will die a man. There is only one thing we need to do now."

Mauricia woke up early Saturday morning to clean the patio before heading to the market with Cipriana. The cleaning girl, Lucia, met her outside as she swept and watered the plants. "Good morning Mauricia, how did you sleep?" Mauricia responded, "not well, for some reason I feel bad, not sick but just down." Lucia laughed and said, "Oh, it's only because Francisco has not come over to see you! You will be fine tomorrow, you'll see." "Your right," answered Mauricia, "tomorrow I will see him and hope he is in a better mood to talk. I'm off to the market to catch up with Cipriana. Eduardo and she should be opening up by now, and today is a busy day for business." Before Mauricia left, she ran back to her room to kiss Teresa goodbye and give her daily blessing.

The day passed quickly as customers flew in and out picking up their orders of meat. Mauricia can only think about Francisco and why he acted so strangely the other night. While Mauricia scrambled to clean up behind Eduardo and pass orders to the front, Cipriana stopped her and told her, "Mauricia, there is something I need to discuss with you tonight." Puzzled but cooperative Mauricia said, "Whatever you say Cipriana, I'm available when you need me." Cipriana hobbled back to work at the front. "Hurry up woman! Your as slow as a mula!" Eduardo yelled out to Mauricia. "Who are you calling a Mule?" Mauricia snapped back as she slings slabs of fat off the floor towards Eduardo.

Later that evening, as Cipriana and Mauricia entered the house, Lucia is sitting in the patio crying into her apron. Mauricia rushed over and said, "What's wrong Lucia? Is Teresa alright?" Lucia cried out, "Yes, she's fine! I received terrible news that my mother is dying back home and I need to see her!" Mauricia began to feel old emotions brewing inside of her. She could sense the fear and sadness in Lucia; something Mauricia knew very well. Mauricia hugged Lucia tightly and caressed her hair in hopes of calming her down. Cipriana said, "Take her to the church to pray for her mother, and to provide Lucia strength for this change in her life." In order to soothe her state of shock, Mauricia knelt down and told Lucia, "Yes Lucia, let's go to the church, and we can pray for your mother. Early tomorrow morning, you can catch the first train out to see her." Cipriana agreed to stay with Teresa and the two ladies rushed over to the church.

Upon arriving at the church, Mauricia and Lucia chose to sit in the back of the church as the candles provided good lighting. Mauricia began to tell Lucia, "I think life gives us good and bad things to make us better people. When I was younger, I thought I was being punished for something I did. As I grew older, I realized that's how life is; babies are born and people die, we can't escape this. We have to prepare ourselves for life's changes when they come." Tears began to stream down Mauricia's face as she concluded, "Unfortunately, some of us are thrown into those changes."

Lucia wiped away her tears as she finished praying, and she began to notice people standing at the front of the church. Their shadows could be seen by the flickering candles off the alter. Lucia asked, "Mauricia, look over there, what is that?" Mauricia squinted and said, "It looks like this couple is getting married. I cannot see from here, let's get a closer look." "No, no!" Lucia cried as she tugged on Mauricia's reboso, "I don't think that would be a wise thing to do." Lucia advised, "It looks like they do not want to be bothered and it doesn't look like a happy wedding either." In the distance they overheard the priest say "I now pronounce you man and wife." The groom began to fall and two men captured him before he hit the ground. Mauricia heard a woman yell, "Francisco!" Mauricia jumped up and, holding her reboso to her face, she scurried to the front to catch a better view. At that moment, Don Ruperto jumped out to stop Mauricia and said, "What are you doing here? Can't you see that Francisco is now married, and he did not take your relationship seriously?" Mauricia yelled out, "He's been sick! He doesn't know what he's doing! Francisco! Francisco! What are you doing?" The priest jumped in to hold Mauricia back as Don Ruperto went to help Julio hold up Francisco. As the families walked out of the church, they yelled obscenities at Mauricia. Ana darted to Mauricia and said, "You meant nothing to him! Go find someone else. He knew there would never be anything with you. You were just his last adventure! He bought me the house, not you."

Mauricia didn't understand what her eyes were seeing or what her ears were hearing. Why didn't Francisco protect her when they yelled obscenties at her, or defend her from Don Ruperto and Ana? All Mauricia could think was "Francisco looked and acted drunk! What in the world is going on?" The priest grabbed on to Mauricia and shook her saying, "You need to control yourself Mauricia, there is nothing you can do. They are now married by the church and that is a sacred thing." The priest was right; Francisco was no longer hers to love. He made a commitment to Ana before the church and that is not to be taken lightly. "There is no way I will come between a marriage." Mauricia whispered. Lucia ran up to Mauricia and held on to her arm as they left the church crying; both crying for lost loves.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Over My Dead Body (5)

"Sign right here and the house is yours", said the seller. Francisco could not believe he had purchased his own home and would soon surprise Mauricia. On his way home, Francisco kept rubbing his fingers on the key in his pants pocket to make sure he was not dreaming. Soon he would let his family know he was going to marry Mauricia even without their approval, and had used his pension money to buy the house. His parents would not support the marriage as Mauricia had nothing to bring to the family and no background. That didn't matter to Francisco, his parents depended on him for money for too many years. His parents forced him and his siblings to work since childhood and they endured years of beatings if they came home without a penny. Francisco thought, "Funny how their perfect image of a family deceived everyone." He was ready to break loose from the chains. For a moment he felt faint, Francisco shook it off as earlier in the day he was fighting off chills and a cough but what he needed was rest. He had put in many hours at the mines which wore him out and needed to regain his energy.

Upon his arrival, Francisco darts through the door to get to his room, he notices there are people in the living room with his parents but is able to run by without any interruption. No sooner that he felt he was able to rest when he hears, "Son!" as his father, Don Ruperto, calls out, "Come over and say hello!" Francisco hides the house key in his top dresser drawer, wrapped in a handkerchief and runs back to greet everyone. Doña Rocio, Francisco's mother, points out that his second cousin, Anna, has been dying to say hello. Francisco thought, "I just saw her at the market yesterday what do they mean dying to say hello?"

Anna is a beautiful young woman but in Francisco's eyes she is hollow, no inner strength or values. Anna does not like to do housework or anything that requires labor. One time he even overheard her complain to her friends, "I can't wait to find a man with money, then I can hire someone else to do my grunt work!" Francisco never took a liking to her, she was just like all the other women he had encountered in the past. He knew in his heart that Mauricia was the right woman for him, she never followed anyone, she was led by faith and self motivation to succeed.
Francisco says hello to Anna's parents, Mr. & Mrs. Gonzalez and as he takes Anna's hand to greet her she giggles. He slightly shakes it, barely touching her, when his mother says softly, "Francisco, your father and I have been discussing your future with Anna's parents and feel it would benefit both families if you both wed." Francisco screeches, "What?" His mother answers, "Yes, we have struggled too long and feel anything you make in the mines should be kept within the family as Anna's parent's have their corner store and that will benefit both sides. Francisco glares at them and says "First dead before I do that!" and proceeded to tell everyone, "you know who I am with and want to marry!" "Don Ruperto shouts back, "You don't mean that woman with that bastard child!" "Yes!", answers Francisco, and in a lower tone gritting his teeth says "I even bought a house out of my pension money for us, so now I want to see how you can get your hands on that!" Francisco storms out of the room and slams the house door behind him as he makes his way to Mauricia's aunt's home to see her. Mauricia always seems to calm him in moments of despair.

"Mauricia! Francisco is here to see you!" Cipriana announces. Mauricia runs from the kitchen to the patio to greet him but he still seems agitated. "What's wrong?" Mauricia questions. "Nothing, just problems with my second cousin, Anna, she's, she's ugh!" "I don't want to talk about that, I wanted to get away to get my thoughts in order." "Okay, if that's what you want, we can sit in silence." Mauricia was suspicious why he mentioned Anna. Mauricia had heard that Anna had a crush on Francisco and she had mentioned her fear of Anna always following him around. Francisco assured her he had no interest in her and not to think such things. Mauricia decided to ask him other questions to get his mind off whatever made him angry to begin with. "How was work?" Mauricia asked. Francisco proceeds to explain it was the same as usual when he starts coughing again. Mauricia advises, "You need to get that checked Francisco, it doesn't sound good." When she felt his forehead he was burning up. Mauricia told Francisco if he couldn't go back home for the time being, he needed to find somewhere else to recuperate. "I think your right", Francisco says, "I need to rest but I will not be able to do that at my parent's house. I think I will go to my cousin, Julio's house. I can stay there for a couple of days, things will die down, and I'll get better." "Good idea." Mauricia responds. Francisco gets up to leave and kisses Mauricia on the forehead as he heads out the door and says, "I love you and I will see you on Sunday." "God willing, within the next four days you should get better." responds Mauricia and waves goodbye.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Worth the Wait (4)

"Where are you?" calls out Mauricia. She hears giggling in the background as she is playing hide and seek with Teresa. "I hear you but I cannot see you!" She yells in the patio looking around through the late afternoon sunlight shadowing the trees behind her. Again, she hears giggling and then a sneeze. "Bless you!" she responds, hoping to get her to say something else, but Teresa is no dummy, she's learned her mother's tricks. No answer. In the back of Mauricia's mind she's hoping Teresa did not go hide in the outhouse again, she almost fell in the hole the last time and that was a huge mess to clean up! As Mauricia passes the staircase she feels a little hand grab her ankle. "Ha! Did I scare you momma?" asked Teresa. "Of course you did!" Mauricia laughed as she picked up Teresa and walked back to the kitchen. Cipriana sat in the kitchen drinking hot chocolate, enjoying the night's cool breeze when they walked in. Cipriana said, "Mauricia, it's almost time for tonight's service and we musn't be late. Tonight's mass is dedicated to Benjamin for his birthday." Mauricia answered, "Of course, don't forget your cane, I don't want you falling down." As the ladies left for service they left Teresa with cousin Eduardo as she was getting over her cold.

The service was beautiful, and at the end of mass the names of the deceased were mentioned in the dedication. Cipriana sat there misty eyed. She missed Benjamin and his strange ways, as he always made her laugh. She prayed Mauricia would find someone that would love her and take care of her as she had been through enough misery. Cipriana pulled herself up to thank the Priest and give a donation to the church. Mauricia helped her up to her feet and she started to walk her way over to his office and asked Mauricia to wait for her outside. Regardless of her age, Cipriana tried to maintain as much independence as possible. Cipriana called on Mauricia only when she walked long distances such as that night.

The night began to get chilly and Mauricia hoped Cipriana could see the priest quickly. "All we need is for Cipriana to stand behind some long-winded woman or man that wants to talk about how much money they've donated to the church and how they outdo everyone else." The darkness brings out a sense of fear out of Mauricia after the attack. Mauricia prayed, "God forgive my awful thoughts, but you know why I'm in a hurry." Mauricia heard someone call out to her, "So what brings you back to church? You were in too much of a hurry the last time I saw you here!" She squinted her eyes and saw Francisco Alvarez walking towards her from a crowd. He carried himself differently than everyone else. He walked with such confidence it made her feel funny, as she caught her thoughts she started thinking "What is this? He needs to get away, why did I not bring Teresa to ward him off?" Mauricia always thought that men would be scared off by a woman with a child as she felt like damaged goods. Francisco stood there and asked for Teresa. "She's fine and at home." she responded as she looked away. "I won't bite you." Francisco assured her. "Look! My hands will be behind my back." She looked up and smiled. "I knew there was a smile underneath that frown of yours!" Francisco exclaimed as Mauricia stood in shock and said, "I don't always frown, do I?" He answered, "Everytime I've seen you around you look as if your angry at the world." Mauricia snapped back, "That's your opinion. Go bother someone else, remember I have a daughter and you don't want to be seen with me." Francisco responded curtly this time and said, "I will only say this once, anything that is hard to get is worth the work and wait, and that includes you! I noticed you years ago, and you were always busy with church or classes. You fell off the face of the earth and no one knew where you went. I see you again with your daughter and still my intentions have not faltered. I'm asking one more time, will you and Teresa take a walk with me?" Mauricia stood in shock as thoughts of her mother raced through her mind, the hurt, anguish, heartbreak and loss. Yet, Francisco stood there tall, tanned, and she sensed a strength in him that she needed. She answered, "Alright, I will accept your offer and Teresa will always be with me, remember that!" Francisco answered as he looked in her eyes, "You wouldn't be Mauricia without Teresa."

Cipriana called out for Mauricia as she made her way outside the church doors. She noticed Mauricia talking to Francisco as she said goodbye to him and began approaching her. She asked Mauricia, "So I take you have a suitor?" Mauricia grinned and told her about their conversation and Cipriana smiled but at the same time offered her advice. "Remember to always be a lady, command respect, and respect him, and please take your time, I don't want you to get hurt." Mauricia hugged her and whispered to her, "Thank you for your words Cipriana, they mean so much to me."

Francisco and Mauricia took many walks after service over the weekends. Teresa felt at ease around Francisco and within time their relationship blossomed into something more meaninful and stable. Mauricia was finally happy and felt like she was standing on solid ground. Francisco worked in the mines and that worried Mauricia but he promised he would quit soon, as luck around there was dwindling down. Mauricia did not know Francisco was gathering enough money to save for a house and put the rest in the bank to ask her to marry him.

Monday, August 3, 2009

One Steps Forward, Two Step Back (3)

Months later after the terrible incident, Mauricia continued her daily routine of teaching Sunday lecture and attending music class. Within time she started to worry she would have to make a decision about what she was going to do. She feared once Gertrudes figured out she was pregnant she would surely kick her out of the house. The thought of getting rid of her baby never crossed Mauricia's mind. She felt compelled to take care of it, and she knew in her heart it was not the child's fault it was coming into the world.

Mauricia had to resign from her lectures and classes. Instead of telling Gertrudes about the changes, Mauricia continued to leave the house to take extra jobs and earn money to save for the baby. Mauricia washed, ironed, mended, and cleaned out houses. She did whatever she could to collect as much money for the moment Gertrudes would kick her out. When Mauricia made it home one night Gertrudes was waiting in the parlor and asked Mauricia to see her. Gertrudes told Mauricia "my friend, Carmen, told me you have been seen doing extra work for people in town. Is this true?" Mauricia said "yes", and decided to tell Gertrudes the truth. She was four months pregnant. Gertrudes responded, "Well you know what this means, don't you? I should have known you would end up like your mother." As tears ran down Mauricia's face, she couldn't hold back her anger. Mauricia ran to the servant's quarters to get her items which had been ready for this moment. She grabbed her rosary, bible, and few family photos she had found and taken from Gertrudes's belongings. Mauricia ran out and told her "I may be pregnant but at least I know how to love, and I'm not an evil hearted person like you! I pray you don't die alone and someone at least cares enough to take care of you like I did!"

Mauricia ran out of Gertrudes's house clutching her bible and rosary while carrying her bag. Inside the bible were the photos she had found. One of the photos had a description on the back indicating it was her aunt Cipriana and her late mother, along with Cipriana's address in Tampico, Mexico. Mauricia said, "I have to leave! I cannot stay here anymore and be reminded of my pain, I can't!" She decided to try her luck elsewhere and find her aunt Cipriana and see what life held in store for her. Mauricia purchased a ticket for the next train to Tampico and left.

Upon arriving in Tampico, Mauricia found her aunt Cipriana's home and knocked on the door. "Hello! Hello! Hello!" someone yelled from afar. Mauricia waited and again knocked. "Hello! Hello! Hello!" again someone yelled. Suddenly, the door cracked open and she saw a wrinkly old man peer through the crack with a large grin. "Sorry, I can't buy anything, the wife will get mad!" then proceeded to close the door. Mauricia held it open and said "please! I'm looking for Cipriana, does she live here?" The old man laughed and said "Yes, Cipriana lives here, hold on." The door gets slammed shut, and Mauricia is left wondering if he is working with a full set of marbles or just decided not to assist her. As Mauricia goes to knock again, the door opens up, and there stands a short, slender, older woman, with her gray hair all wrapped up in a neat bun. "Can I help you?" she asks. "Yes, my name is Mauricia Delgado and I believe your my aunt Cipriana." Mauricia began to tell her about her journey to find her and her pregnancy. Cipriana proceeded to tell Mauricia "Well, I don't see any problem with you living with us. I need help with my husband, Benjamin, he's a little crazy in his old age, and watching him and taking care of a house is difficult enough."

Mauricia was much happier with Cipriana who later introduced her to other relatives on her father's side that she had never met. Everyone in the family was either a butcher or worked in the mines. When Cipriana left to work in the family meat market, Mauricia had to tend to the house and make sure Benjamin was taken care of. Mauricia did not receive wages for doing her job, she was promised a place to sleep and eat and that was it.

Benjamin was a happy fellow who kept to himself and liked to doodle on paper and whittle wood. While Mauricia would clean the house Benjamin would talk to Mauricia about different topics from politics, witches, and other stories he repeated from time to time. Mauricia had to make sure the door was locked as he liked to walk outside and wander but nine months into her pregnancy Mauricia could not keep up with him.

Fall came around and so did Teresa Delgado. She was Mauricia's pride and joy and with her came a renewed sense of hope to live. During the time Mauricia gave birth, Benjamin became very ill and passed away, leaving Cipriana alone. Mauricia continued to care for the house but within time Cipriana asked her to work in the meat market with her and bring Teresa along. Working at the meat market was very hard, she learned to gut pigs, chickens, and ducks. Cipriana could not keep up with this work and Mauricia could tell she was beginning to feel more tired each day.

One day while walking home, after working at the meat market, Cipriana mentioned to Mauricia about moving to Pinos, Mexico, where she was born. Mauricia thought long and hard as she would have to return to the place she ran away from. Cipriana assured her she would not be alone and her cousins were moving with them to open a family market there. Mauricia agreed as long as they stayed on the other side of town away from her terrible memories. Everyone packed their belongings and sold the house. Cipriana felt more at ease going back to her birthplace as she felt she didn't have much more time on this earth.

Pinos looked the same after being away two years. There were new buildings here and there but at least there were more people than before. The first thing Mauricia needed to do was go to the church and pray. Mauricia took Teresa as she wanted the priest to give her a blessing too. Before entering the church, Mauricia let Teresa play by the fountain. Teresa watched the water trickling off the sides and splashing bits of water on her little face. Teresa giggled as she enjoyed the water and it provided relief from the hot sun. Mauricia could not help but feel like she was being watched. She turned around and a gentleman by the front of the church turns around and looks the other way. She scoops up Teresa and hurries her way into the church for service. Once service is over, she gets the priest to give Teresa a blessing and they proceed to go home. The same gentleman from the front door attended service and she caught his glimpse again but this time he smiled. She recognized him, but from where? Mauricia begins to think and remembers he was a suitor that had asked her out for a walk a long time ago. His name is Francisco Alvarez, now she remembered! Mauricia thought, "Oh well, that was a long time ago and he's not as blind to see I now have a child."

Mauricia and Teresa were patiently waiting while everyone exited the church when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Mauricia turns around to see Francisco smiling and said, "I haven't seen you in ages, how have you been?" "I'm fine, thank you." Mauricia responded curtly. "This is my daughter Teresa." Francisco didn't budge, "Your daughter is very cute, your husband must be very proud." "I'm very proud, her father is not around, and your being nosy." Mauricia answered. As soon as she saw an open area, Mauricia squeezed her way through and disappeared through the crowd leaving Francisco just shaking his head.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What About You?

It's normal to need companionship and love. We yearn to be with a person that will compliment us as a rock to lean on, a motivator, or a team member that will not let us down when the game of life comes down to the nitty gritty. The need for love is not the question but at what cost? Divorce rates are high and many children are born to single parents, which single parenting is not the the topic, it's making bad decisions choosing a mate. I think we've steered away from what a relationship should be than a glamorized parade with a lot of nice things to see on the outside but no substance on the inside. We concentrate too much on finding the perfect man/woman, money, or throw ourselves into anything without much thought for fear of being alone. I know this sounds cruel or hits a sour note but it's a harsh reality that has frustrated a lot of us in the past and continues for the single, divorced, and widowed that have decided to take that next step forward.

Many people go to the wrong places to find a companion and end up disappointed. Be realistic, are you going to find your soulmate at the club? When people go to a club it's to dance, drink it up, and let loose with friends. It's the perfect environment for a one night stand or maybe meet someone that will be a fling but a long term relationship, hardly.

Both men and women expect to find the perfect man/woman with a grandious list of qualifications when they cannot even meet half of that list. Why should you ask for someone to be tall, dark, and handsome with a lot of money when you don't care about your health, watch tv most of your free time and are still working the same 9-5 job you complain about every day? At times we need to analyze our inner self and then makeover our persona to attract the right person. What I am trying to say is this: Sometimes life drags us through the mud through divorce, death, or depression for whatever reason. We let ourselves get stuck in a rut. During that bout or immobility our self esteem, personality, and appearance take a hard hit and we display the scars through our emotions and physical appearance. Don't walk around displaying your past injuries.

Remember we all have had our moments of failure or loss and we need time to recuperate and then bring ourselves back up to rise again with an attitude that no matter what has happened we will succeed. When it's the right time to rise again, then check yourself and make sure you are standing on solid ground; know what you want before looking and criticizing others. Let me explain it this way, we cannot go to the grocery store hungry as we will leave with a bunch of items we don't need or end up disatisfied. Same concept for dating: why go out there when your not ready, don't know what you really want, and end up with the wrong person, unhappy and with more regrets?

I by no means am saying be someone else, that's the problem today, people put up a front and if a guy says, "I love baseball!" the woman interested in him miraculously loves baseball too when she doesn't even know how to hold the darn ball! Some relationships are composed of couples that wear matching t-shirts and some who respect each other's individuality but whatever your preference know what you want, be yourself, and be upfront. Don't hide anything for that will make things worse when the truth comes out. I firmly believe you attract the way you act but be honest with yourself before making a grocery list on a potential mate. Check the merchandise for good quality, I'm not referring in the appearance but what is inside. No one wants a bad woman or man. There are too many imposters, cheap brands, and bad lemons out there so steer clear!

Open your inner circle and try something new, go to a ballgame with your friends, go to different social events, or take up a new hobby, you never know who you will meet and you will add to the qualities of the great person you already are. There is someone for everyone but we need to open up too, and not try so hard; let things fall where they may. Best of luck and smile! No one likes to approach a person that always has that ticked off look, what about you?