(The handsome man on right, with my grandma and father)
Because this is the only journal I keep, I wanted to take the time to record some memories of him that are burned in my mind.
-When he and my Grandma Lala would babysit us, my grandma was very strict, and, in our humble opinion, wouldn't allow us to have any fun. As she tried to maintain order, he would constantly say to her, "Dejalas, Mommy!", placing a particular emphasis on the first syllable of "Dejalas", which means, "Leave them alone, Mother!"
-For dinner, he would make us "fideo", a Mexican noodle dish. He would also make us mush sometimes, which is a breakfast dish made from cornmeal, but we got to eat it for dinner.
-He made the best Kool-aid in the world for us, because he would boil the sugar with the water, causing it to be dissolved thoroughly. Perhaps it was no different than the Kool-aid my mom made, but there was just something about going to Grandpa Tito's house after school and pouring a tall, clear glass of his red Kool-aid.
-When he told us stories of his childhood, they usually involved him getting hurt, like the time when he was five years old, sneaked off with his father's horse, rode into town, then fell off, breaking his radius. When he described how he had to have it set without anesthesia, he would always recall how he had yelled, "YOWWW!" This is probably not what he really said, but this is always how he described the event.
-In fact, when he was in pain, he never made any noise at all. Once, during his last few years, he fell down and broke his finger. He adamantly refused medical treatment, but his finger was badly disfigured and needed to be reset. My sister with the PhD hadn't yet finished college, but even my father conceded that she was the person in the family with the most training on the functions of the human body, so she volunteered to set his finger for him. Only she and my dad were allowed in Grandpa's house during the procedure, and even though I stood right outside the window, waiting, I never heard him utter a sound. Later, my sister would tell me that when she had grabbed his finger and pulled it into position, his face has distorted into an excruciated expression, his eyes had filled with tears, and he had banged the palm of his hand over and over again on the table, but he never made a sound. When they all came out of the house, he was smiling and patting my sister's back, impressed with her skills.
-He seemed to be the happiest when I visited him in his home with his two great-grand children. The 17-year-old boy was only a year old during my grandfather's last year, but Grandpa Tito loved more than anything to have him sit on his lap and eat bananas, even though my son would always be distracted by his great-grandfather's soft, snow-white hair and begin to pull it with banana residue all over his chubby little hands. During these literal hair-raising occasions, my grandpa would laugh in astonishment at how many bananas his great-grandson could eat, and would also cry, "YOWWW!" as his hair was being pulled.
-When my first husband and I lived in Louisiana with our children, we would visit my parents and grandparents in El Paso, TX as often as we could, which was about once a year. When my father would share with my grandfather the good news that we were coming to town, he would cry, "Oh, no!" When my father would ask why he was upset, he would sadly reply, "Because that means we will have to say good bye again."
-The last time I saw my grandfather, besides when he was incoherent as I said goodbye to him in his deathbed, was when we were pulling out of my parents driveway headed back to Louisiana. He was standing in my father's carport, so small and sad, with his arms down at his sides, watching us leave. Perhaps he knew that was to be the last good bye.
There is tons more I could write about Grandpa Tito, but perhaps I will save that for another post. Thanks for listening.