Friday, December 4, 2009

Hand in Hand (19)

"Congratulations brother on your graduation," Mauricia said to Andres as she hugged him. Carmela complimented, "Andres, you look very handsome in your shirt. The tailor did a good job." Mauricia could not help but try to ignore that comment as it brought memories of Francisco back to mind. The family held a party at the house for Andres' graduation. All their new friends and neighbors were invited. Maria Guadalupe came with her daughter Lisette to visit for the occasion. Maria Guadalupe seemed happier since her daughter's adoption although her husband was not as receptive. Lisette was a dainty little girl with almond shaped eyes, tiny lips and fair skinned. Lisette was everything to Maria Guadalupe and she showered her with toys and clothes. Mauricia was happy to see Maria Guadalupe in a better mood and enjoying her life with her new daughter.

As the evening went on Mauricia excused herself and went to her room with Teresa to go to bed. Mauricia was not in a festive mood and felt she needed to finally take care of her concerns face to face with Francisco. "I have to go to the railroad company and find Francisco", Mauricia stated aloud. "What is wrong with me? I need to get this off my chest and maybe I can finally move on. That is what I will do. Once I say what I need to say to Francisco I think I will feel much better."

The next morning Mauricia was sick to her stomach from nervousness about going to Francisco's job to speak to him. After breakfast Mauricia was getting dressed to go to the railroad company when there was a knock at the front door. Mauricia scurried to the door to see who it was and found Estella standing there with a huge grin. Estella leaped over to Mauricia and hugged her stating, "Cousin, it has been a long time since we've seen each other! How are you and Teresita?" Mauricia answered while in embrace, "We're doing well, thank you Estella. Where are you staying?" Estella waved her arm in the air and said, "Awww, I'm staying with a comadre from Zacatecas that now lives here in San Luis. When are you able to sit down and converse? I have some information you may find important about your family lineage!" Mauricia reluctantly answered, "Well, I was about to go and see someone," as she scratched her head. "If you're busy I can come back another day or do you mind if we walk and talk? I know you will want to know what I know!" Estella said as she shook Mauricia by the shoulders. "Alright, let's go Estella. If it's that urgent come with me." Mauricia motioned Estella to come inside and soon they were heading out of the house. Teresa enjoyed Estella's company as she was more playful than Mauricia and abides to Teresa's requests to be swung around and carried.

"Well, what is this news you have to tell me that is urgent?" asked Mauricia. Estella asked Mauricia, "Do you know the name, Aurelio Manrique?" "Yes, I've heard of him on the radio or somewhere, why?" Mauricia looked at Estella. ""In speaking with the elders on your mother's side in Zacatecas they repeatedly mentioned he was your mother's uncle, which makes him your second uncle." Estella jumped in elation. "Do you not understand? This man was governor of the state of San Luis, a politician in Mexico City and Director of the National Library of Congress in Mexico City! This is a huge piece of your puzzle." Mauricia looked at the ground as they walked and focused on Estella's face and said, "How sure are you of this? His last name has no z." Estella responded, "Oh Mauricia, everyone is dropping a letter or changing their last names now a days. Some people in the pueblo's don't know exactly who's father is who or take on another family surname due to issues. Mauricia laughed and said, "Your right Estella, I was only a Manriquez for many years until I met my real father. Regardless, I'm happy for his accomplishments and proud that we come from such a strong lineage. This helps me answer a lot about myself and my mother."

As the women continued their walk, Estella asked Mauricia, "Where are you going? With the news I have given you, your still in a daze. What's going on?" Mauricia looked at Estella and asked her not to mention anything and began to tell her the encounter she had with Francisco. Estella told Mauricia, "You have struggled since your mother's death and I can only say follow your heart. Talk to the man. Remember, he accepted you with your daughter and respected you like no other. I think he deserves a moment to explain his side of the story. Anyhow, who else will put up your stubbornness woman?" Mauricia smiled and said, "Your right, that is why I am going to the railroad company to look for him." Estella hugged Mauricia and said, "No one is perfect Mauricia. Some men have problems and some men have no shame. The only way to tell the difference between a dysfunctional man and a descent man is when problems arise the dysfunctional man will always quit and run away. A descent man will fight against everything, put their family first, and love their companion through all hurdles. No marriage is perfect but if life has brought you together every time, I can tell you, God is trying to give you a message. You are meant for each other. Why don't you put your problems together and support each other? Ha ha ha, Estella laughs boisterously as she slaps her leg." Mauricia sternly looks at Estella, "Don't make fun! Do you know how long I have suffered for this man?" Estella looks at Mauricia and tells her, "Learn to laugh at yourself Mauricia. If you cannot laugh at yourself, you will spend the rest of your life crying. Now go and find him! I will wait here with Teresa at the front of the company building." "Thank you Estella, I will try not to take long." as Mauricia touched Estella's hand. "Don't take too long or else I will have Teresa asking for handouts!" Estella yelled as Mauricia went through the door. Mauricia winced as she heard Estella's comment.

"Can I help you Senorita?" asked a man as he approached Mauricia. "Yes, I am looking for Francisco Alvarez. I need to relay a message to him please." Mauricia nervously responded. "Oh, Francisco! You can find him in the back by the dock station. He works loading trucks. Go through this back door and down the stairs. Make a right and walk to the next building by the tracks and he should be there." "Thank you sir." Mauricia said as she hurried to the back door. Mauricia hesitated once she hit the bottom of the stairs. Her heart was racing and her palms started sweating. Mauricia could not understand why she was so nervous but knew in her heart she had to go through her plan.

As Mauricia approached the building she heard whistles and comments yelled at her, "Hey sweetie, are you looking for me? You've found me!" In an instant she heard someone say, "Shut up!" Everyone turned around and Francisco stood there and dropped the load he was carrying to the ground. He walked over to Mauricia and said, "Thank you for coming. I'm sorry you had to go through this." Mauricia blushed and said, "When do you have a moment to talk?" Francisco looked at her and said "my lunch hour is coming up and we can talk then." "I'll wait in the front of the building with Teresa and Estella." "Estella is here? How is the old maid? Feisty as always?" Francisco chuckled. "Francisco!" Mauricia said as she hit his arm.

Mauricia waited patiently in the front of the railroad company as she and Estella entertained Teresa. Moment's later, Francisco walked out with his lunch pail at hand and approached the ladies. "Hello Estella, nice to see you." as he shook her hand. Estella shook Francisco's hand and said, "Doing great! Visiting family and came to see what Mauricia is up to. Now can you two talk and get this straightened out?" Francisco walked the ladies and Teresa to the nearest Plaza to sit at the park benches and talk. Mauricia heard about Francisco's illness, the wedding, his marriage with Ana and the problems that followed. "You have two children Francisco?" asked Mauricia. "Yes, Francisco and Beatrice." answered Francisco. "Mauricia, I love my children very much. They are the only thing I care about in this world aside from you. They live with their mother here in San Luis. I see them on occasion to make sure they are fine. These are not words I am saying to you. I mean them. Everything that happened was not what I wanted for us. The house was supposed to be ours, I wanted to marry you, my life was to be with you and I feel like a failure that I let you down and I have nothing to offer. I want to be with you. I understand my situation is not good and with my divorce it may take time to finally get it approved but I know I want that done even if I have to die doing it. I want to marry you Mauricia. When I am with you I feel at peace and do not have to worry about you hurting me. We've been hurt enough by life and other people. I want to protect, love, and live with you for the rest of my life." Mauricia had tears in her eyes and had no words to say as she was overcome with emotion. She knew Francisco made her feel safe and respected her when everyone else shunned her in town. Mauricia held Francisco's hand and said, "Together, these hands will accomplish and overcome many things. I am willing to go through it all with you Francisco." Francisco stood up and picked up Mauricia in elation as he hugged her and thanked her profusely. Embarrassed, Mauricia kept saying, "Francisco! Your causing a scene, put me down!" Francisco said, "I'm putting you down now, but today your coming home to stay with me forever!" Mauricia stood in shock and thought, "What are my brother's going to say about this?"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

To Sin or Not to Sin? (18)

Once Mauricia regained her thoughts after seeing Francisco, she walked back to La Iglesia del Carmen where she met with Padre Vicente about teaching on the weekends. Unfortunately, Padre Vicente had plenty of people assisting him in religion classes and Mauricia was disappointed. "Is there anything I can help with aside from the classes?" asked Mauricia. At this point she needed to get out of the house and find a distraction from Francisco and the confines of the house. "Senorita Delgado, I will inquire within the church and see if your services can be utilized elsewhere." responded Padre Vicente. "Thank you padre, I will return in a week to check again." Mauricia graciously answered as she kissed his ring finger out of respect.

Upon her arrival to the house a letter was waiting for her on the kitchen table. Mauricia's cousin, Estella, was coming in from Zacatecas to stay for a month. Mauricia appreciated Estella as she understood Mauricia's yearning about her past and her extended family. Mauricia and Estella were never very close but Estella always provided some information about her family or background when she had found some new information. Estella was a free spirit who was several years older than Mauricia. She had long black and gray hair which she wore in a braid with brightly colored ribbons. Mauricia admired Estella as she was not afraid to get up and venture to unknown places. Mauricia called her "La Gitana" (the gypsy).

As Mauricia folded Estella's letter and placed it in her pocket another thought came to her mind. "What is going on with Carlos? I haven't heard from him since the move and the last letter he sent indicated he was on his last year of service in the military." Teresa ran into the room and hugged Mauricia's leg, "Mama!" "Did you enjoy yourself at the Plaza? asked Mauricia. "Si! Uncle Miguel bought me peanuts and we fed the birds seeds. There was a lot of birds mama!" Teresa explained as her little hands motioned frantically showing Mauricia the extent of birds at the plaza. Mauricia picked up Teresa and took her to the kitchen to get dinner ready.

A couple of days later Mauricia could not stop thinking about her encounter with Francisco. She was angry at herself for not being able to forget him and continue with her life. "I am going to the church for a confession. This is worrying me so much I cannot concentrate on my responsibilities." Mauricia told herself as she was brushing her hair. She dressed Teresa and headed out of the house by mid-morning to the closest church by the house.

"Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been one month since my last confession." Mauricia began at the confessional while Teresa sat on the pew next to her. "What brings you to confession my daughter?" answered the anonymous priest behind the screen. By now Mauricia wanted to remain anonymous as the situation with Francisco had perplexed her so much she did not want anyone to know. She felt if anyone was aware, especially her brothers, they would not approve and give her a hard time. "Father, I still have feelings for a married man. I know it is a sin but our relationship was interrupted by another woman who married him while he was close to death." Mauricia blurted out and held her breath anticipating the priest's response. "Well... If he is married there is nothing else to say my child." he responded. "I understand, but can I explain what happened in order for you to understand my situation and help me put my thoughts in order?" begged Mauricia. "I will pray 200 rosaries if I can have a moment of your time to hear my story and tell me if I am wrong or what I need to do." Mauricia blurted. Nothing came from the other side of the screen for almost 10 seconds, then a sigh came out and said, " I will entertain your thoughts and will give you the best advice I am able to provide through the help of our Lord. I must request we meet in my office as this may take longer than the confessional permits." Mauricia was content with anything at this point and followed the priest to the back of the church in a small office behind the altar.

Mauricia began to tell her story to the priest. Thirty minutes into the conversation the priest gets up and tells her, "My child, I feel you have suffered tremendously in the lifetime you have experienced to this time. What keeps you motivated to continue?" Mauricia did not fully comprehend his question but to the best of her ability responded, "Well, I keep hoping and praying I will have a good seat in heaven waiting for me. I've certainly been through enough and when it is time for me to go I will follow." The priest chuckled and accepted her response as he sat back down. "Now, you say Francisco had paperwork indicating he was coerced into marriage under duress?" asked the priest. "Yes, he indicated he had paperwork and was in the process of a divorce." Mauricia confirmed. "You are aware this is a difficult task to accomplish through the church young lady? Are you willing to wait and go through the time it will take to get this done? I am not approving you to live in sin. I am only explaining this will not be an easy feat. This will not be completed in a year or so, we are dealing with the Catholic Church, and there are several steps that need to be approved." Mauricia sat in the chair wringing her handkerchief and said, "I am now aware this will be a great deal of time and work involved to accomplish. Thank you for explaining the steps and reality of Francisco's situation to me." Mauricia kissed the priest's ring finger and began to leave his office with Teresa in tow when he said, "my child, if you ever need to talk again please come back." Mauricia smiled, nodded her head, turned around and headed out the door.