Friday, January 22, 2010

The Grandson of a Slave Owner and a Full-Blooded Cherokee

He was born in Mexico, his name was Tito, and he was my grandfather...

(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.


Shana Putnam said...

Love your memories of your grandpa. I miss mine too and think of them often.

Lynn said...

I agree with Shana. Loved these memories of your grandpa and it reminded me of how close I was to mine. Hope you share more.

alessandra said...

I would have loved to descend from a native American, always been a fan of them.

Ginny Marie said...

Wonderful stories about your grandfather. Your memories will be treasured by your children some day!

Anonymous said...

Such great memories! And you have a wonderul blog! I was so fascinated to see what your life was like living in Mexico. So many questions ran through my mind! And for someone who thinks they are unorganized, I think that you have your stuff together. I'm jealous and I only have 1 child to take care of!

Stopping by to welcome you to the SITStahood. We are so glad you could join us and look forwrd to seeing you around.

singlemormonchick said...

got a little misty with that one. thanks for sharing those awesome memories.

Amy Snow said...

Is there anything in the world so wonderful as a grandpa? Mine died last September 14. I have his picture on my fridge. I miss him terribly! Thank you for sharing your memories with us Jen!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your memories. I love family histories.

Shannon said...

What a great story! My grandparents were not in my life so I LOVE hearing about how loving grandparents can be. Thank you for sharing.

Shannon from BlogFrog

Tim Tinkel - Families Again said...

What a great story. Like so many others, it reminded me of my grandfather's - both are long gone now. I wish my boys could have met them. My oldest was just a year old when my paternal grandfather died. My maternal grandfather passed away before I had even met my wife, let alone have children. Unfortunately, both my dad and my wife's dad are also gone now, and so are my wife's grandfather's so there will be hardly any grandfather memories for my children. Cherish yours.

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Tara @ Feels Like Home said...

Your stories reminded me of my own grandpa. They were from a different time. What beautiful memories.

Cyn said...

Loved reading these memories. I never really knew either of my grandfathers but this sure made me think of my own dad and what a great grandpa he was to his grandchildren. Mentioning mush took me back too. My mom's family served it all the time down in the Kentucky area but they served fried mush. They would make the mush recipe (polenta for those who recognize it by that name) into a tube or loaf shape, refrigerate it until it firmed up, and then cut slices off of it and fry those in butter. They sell fried mush at Bob Evans' restaurants too - do those still exist? We used to go all the time and my mom always ordered fried mush!

Cheryl B. said...

For Cyn - My family too made the fried mush - good stuff!! And yes, Bob Evans do still exist :-}

For Jen - thanks for sharing your memories. Warm memories of people who showed how much they loved and care about us can be very theraputical!!! May the Lord keep bringing more such memories to mind for you!!!

My warmest grandparent type memories come from a grandma. She is why I love to cook and bake.

You read and/or hear other peoples memories or lack there of, of grandparents and they inspire me now in being a grandparent.

We have always told our "boys" that you can learn from everyone - yes, everyone! You either learn traits that you need to acquire, or if you already have them, you need to keep building them. Or, you learn how not to be!

Your grandfather gave you positive things to learn from, such as how to make a person feel very loved! What a blessing!!

Carma Sez said...

It is wonderful that you are recording these memories. And I'm very interested to try this Kool Aid method!

Welcome to SITS! We're glad you joined :-)

Amanda B. said...

grandpas are truly an amazing thing. This touches my heart because my favorite grandpa died last April and I have really missed him. It is so fun to watch my kids with my dad (their grandpa! :)) and see that my dad is soooooo not the man who raised me. ;) Those are fun memories you posted! (BTW, my grandma's father was full blooded cherokee! My dad tells very cool stories of his grandfather!)

Unknown said...

I left you an award on my blog because you have such a beautiful family which makes you a beautiful blogger.

Panamamama said...

How beautiful!