Saturday, September 19, 2009

Till Death Do Us Part (Ch. 13)

"Maria Guadalupe, you have my deepest sympathy. I hope your holding up well." Julia told Maria Guadalupe as she saw her at church. Maria Guadalupe responds, "I'm doing well, thank you. The doctor told me to take it easy after this last miscarriage. I will be up and running around in a short time. I have to, mother and her friends are hosting a gathering for the upcoming holidays. I need to get in shape to wear my new dress and shoes." Julia responded," you should not rush your recovery, you need time to heal." Maria Guadalupe waved her hand in the air and said, "Oh, what does the doctor know, I'm young and will be able to have another child." Julia asked, "How is Don Leopoldo doing after his attack? Does the doctor think it was his heart?" Maria Guadalupe said, "The doctor does think it was related to his heart. He's doing much better now and is back at the store after only a month off. He cannot stay at home for long, he goes crazy. Such a hard headed man!" "I'm glad to hear he is doing better. I will keep praying for his well-being, send him my best please" Julia says goodbye to Ma. Guadalupe and leaves the church.

Mauricia, Teresa, and Maria del Carmen are waiting outside the church as Ma. Guadalupe makes her way to meet them. "Hello ladies! My, My, what are you two doing here? Is it not too early for you both to be here this lovely Sunday morning? You two should be at home cooking, cleaning or whatever you like to do." At that moment, Mario walks up and greets Ma. del Carmen and Mauricia. Ma. del Carmen introduces him, "Maria Guadalupe, this is Mario Acevedo, my suitor." "Oh dear! My sister finally left the house to meet other people! No wonder your at church. " Maria Guadalupe says as she laughs and places her hand over her mouth. Mauricia pinches Ma. Guadalupe on the back while she is pretending to hold her lovingly. Ma. Guadalupe glares at Mauricia and says, "I have important things to do today. I must go, it was a pleasure to meet you Mr. Acevedo." Mario does not know what to make of the introduction but is not interested as Ma. del Carmen is there and that is all that mattered to him.

Mauricia and Teresa make their way back home as she leaves Ma. del Carmen and Mario at the Plaza in front of the church. She knew they wanted to be left alone to talk. A block down into her walk, Mauricia decides to go to her father's store to check on him. "Father! Hello?" Don Leopoldo answers, "I'm in the back packing!" Mauricia makes her way to the back of the store and sees Don Leopoldo placing heavy parcels on the top shelf. "Father! Now the doctor said you need to take it easy at this time! Where is Juanito?" Don Leopoldo says, "I sent him to run an errand to pick up more packing paper. Mauricia do not worry, I'm fine," as he pats her on the back. Teresa puts up her hands and says, "Buelo!" Don Leopoldo hands over a tiny cup of gelatin and a small spoon to Teresa and tells her, "Here is a gelatin for my princess." He turns around at Mauricia and says, "Mauricia, I will come in as soon as Juanito gets back, agreed?" Mauricia agrees and says, "We'll meet you inside father. Lunch will be waiting for you."

The day passed calmly, aside from Ma. Guadalupe's rude remarks, Don Leopoldo came in and ate lunch and Mauricia sent him upstairs to rest in his room. Ma. del Carmen comes back home and says goodbye to Mario. Both Ma. del Carmen and Mario are smitten as Mauricia can see. Mauricia greets Ma. del Carmen, "Hello Ma. del Carmen, did you enjoy yourself today?" Ma. del Carmen grabs Mauricia's arm and says, "Of course sister, I had a wonderful time. Mario and I can sit for hours and discuss many things. He is very smart and has a kind heart." Curiosity kills Mauricia and she asks, "I remember you ordered your wedding dress. Is Mario planning on asking for your hand soon? I cannot see you buying a dress for nothing." Ma. del Carmen grins and whispers to Mauricia, "Mario is planning on asking for my hand tomorrow!" Mauricia tells Ma. del Carmen, "That is enough for me! Let's make dinner!"

Carmela comes home as she had a headache and asked that her dinner be brought to her room. Don Leopoldo and Carmela have not shared a room in years and they each slept in different living quarters. Ma. del Carmen races upstairs to take her mother's dinner. "Knock, Knock." she knocks on the door. "Come in" answers Carmela. Ma. del Carmen tells Carmela, "I have your dinner mother, where would you like it placed?" Carmela had a cold wet cloth over her eyes to alleviate any discomfort. She told Ma. del Carmen, "place it anywhere, I don't care." Ma. del Carmen places her mother's tray on her dresser and sneaks out of the room.
Later that night, Mauricia is brushing Teresa's hair in Ma. del Carmen's room. "Ma. del Carmen, can I ask you something?" asks Mauricia. Ma. del Carmen turns around from putting up her clothes and says, "Of course, go ahead." Mauricia clears her throat and asks, "When you get married to Mario, can Teresa and I come to visit?" Ma. del Carmen smiles and says, "I would love to have you over as much as possible. Mario loves you and Teresa as much as I do." Mauricia laughs and says, "I should be mad at you. You're leaving me alone to cook and clean for everybody. That is not the real problem, I am more afraid of Carmela." Ma. del Carmen responds, "As long as father is here, mother has no say so about you and Teresa. He takes care of everyone, including my mother. She will act rudely but do not listen to her, she is a bitter woman who enjoys material things instead of family." Mauricia gives Ma. del Carmen a mischevious smirk and says, "Thank you Ma. del Carmen, you have given me a bit of hope after you move out. Teresa and I will miss you, but if anything happens with Carmela we are moving in with you." Maria del Carmen hops into bed beside Mauricia and says, "I am not married yet, stop kidding around Mauricia. Do you want to sleep in my room tonight?" Mauricia likes the idea and agrees to stay in her room. They both stay up talking about childhood experiences and Ma. del Carmen's wedding preparations until they doze off to sleep.

Mauricia sits up immediately in bed the next morning as someone is knocking on Ma. del Carmen's door. Ma. del Carmen opens the door and Andres and Miguel tell the girls they overslept and to get up. In a hurry, Mauricia gets herself and Teresa ready and meets Ma. del Carmen in the kitchen. "What happened to us?" asks Mauricia. "We stayed up too late talking and we overslept." Ma. del Carmen answered. Mauricia wonders aloud while counting on her fingers, "Andres and Miguel prepared coffee for themselves this morning. Poor father did not have anything. I'll take something for him to eat at the store." Ma. del Carmen begins to prepare some egg sandwiches for Don Leopoldo and places them in a pail for Mauricia to take to the store. Carmela appears at the door, disheveled, and pale. Carmela asks Mauricia, "Where are you going with that pail?" Mauricia looks over at Carmela and freezes in place and says, "I am taking father breakfast as Ma. del Carmen and I overslept. I'm sorry, it...." Carmela interrupts Mauricia and says, "Don't bother going to the store, call the doctor, I think your father is dead." Mauricia tells Ma. del Carmen to run to the room while she tells Juanito to find the doctor. Juanito races away in search of Dr. Lazaro. When Mauricia returns to the house she runs upstairs to find Ma. del Carmen sobbing over her father's body on the floor. Carmela says, "It looks like he might have had another attack and tried to get up for help." Mauricia kneels down next to his body with Teresa wailing in the background. Mauricia's thoughts begin to race and she wonders, "God why him? I know I should not ask, but was I too happy for too long that he had to be taken away?" Andres and Miguel arrive shortly after as Juanito found them on their way to their bus stop. Andres yells as he shakes Don Leopoldo's body, "Father! Father! Don't leave us. Please!" Dr. Lazaro runs in and immediately moves everyone out of the way to take Don Leopoldo's pulse. He pulled out his stethoscope to check his heart then looked up at everyone and said, "I am very sorry. Don Leopoldo is dead."

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