Heartbreak

My grandmother was very young when she lost her first husband. The family legend says that she lay in bed for a whole week when he passed, and the eldest of her sons (my father), who was nine or 10 years old, lost his childhood in the blink of an eye. I have no further information about my grandfather, none whatsoever. It was a taboo subject, and my grandmother never mentioned his name again. NEVER. I think that when she lost her husband, my grandmother’s heart cracked in such a way that it could never mend again. The fact that she never mentioned my grandfather’s name kind of confirms that. Whenever she referred to him, she would call him “El Finado,” which literally means “the one that found its end.” The dictionary translates it as “dead.”

So, none of the six children my grandmother had (then) really overcame the death of my grandpa. My father cannot speak more than two sentences about him because the pain and loss overwhelms him, and his voice breaks and his eyes become watery. So no, no talking about EL FINADO.

My grandmother remarried very shortly after the loss of my grandfather, and her new husband Juan León was the only grandfather I ever knew and remember. He was a very darkskinned man, and I always remember him being at the entrance of my grandmothers house, looking at the horizon or in his garage, cleaning some piece of a motor or something. Grandpa Juan (as I used to call him) came to mend my grandma’s heart. She used to call him Gordo (fat).

Grandpa Juan was a weird person, but he was always sweet to me. I was his first granddaughter, and he was very patient with me. I grew up in their house because my parents were very young, and they worked all my life, so my grandparents raised me my Grandma Quina, my Grandpa Juan and my Grandma María.

Grandpa Juan LOVED to read, and he LOVED crossword puzzles. He also loved Coca-Cola and to have a smoke after lunch. I don’t think he ever had a steady job, but he would do one thing here and one thing there. He was always at home and was my Grandma’s companion. He did love to travel, though, and he joined a radio club called “Conejos Liberales.” With those friends, he would go up and down Mexico, and he would have long radio conversations with them when he was home. He was a very quiet person, and he loved my mom. They would always go and have a cigarette after lunch. He would give her honey candy. He would have one, too, and then they would smoke their cigarette together in the entrance of the house while looking at the horizon.

Grandma Quina was older than Grandpa Juan, and she always used to say she would die before him and ask him to take care of her children when she was gone. She had six from her first marriage and shared one with Grandpa Juan. They all got along pretty well, I think.

One day, Grandpa Juan went to the doctor for a checkup, and he never came back. The news of his death was a total shock for the entire family, especially for my grandmother. Her heart was absolutely shattered. The same thing that happened with Grandpa Felipe had repeated, and my Grandma had a meltdown. I think she had to be sedated, and she slept for days. I do remember, though, that when I finally saw her again, she had aged. She looked so old, so sad, so heartbroken. It was hard. It was extremely hard.

As time passed by, Grandma Quina started to get back to her normal life of cooking and keeping herself busy, but he light in her face was gone. She never actually recovered. A year passed by, and we met her for Christmas. She was sitting in a corner of my grandpa’s garage and solemnly said, “I miss my Gordo, dear family. I’ve done my best, but this is the last Christmas I’ll spend with you. I’m sorry.” We all pumped her up, telling her she had so much to live for, that we loved her, etc, etc. She had tears in her eyes but still managed a small, gentle smile. I felt for her.

On December 2 the following year, Grandma Quina had a stroke and died. She kept her promise and didn’t spend that Christmas with us. Even though the death certificate stated she died of complications due to her stroke, I knew she died of a broken heart.

I should confess something at this point. Grandma Quina was my favorite family member, and when she left, she broke my heart, too.

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El molcajete que me prometio mi abuela

Mis papás eran muy jóvenes cuando yo nací, así que pasaban la mayor parte del tiempo trabajando y yo pasaba la vida en casa de mis abuelos, casi todos los fines de semana y a pesar de la molestia de mi mamá, prefería pasar el fin en casa de mi abuela Quina, que era la mamá de mi papá. No había más niños en la casa, sólo me gustaba estar ahí, en esa enorme casa que parecía laberinto, donde bien podía ir al anexo de mi tío Pancho o al de mi tío Chavo o con mis bisabuelos que tenían otro anexo a ver películas en blanco y negro o quedarme viendo a mi tío Miguel arreglando un carro en el taller que tenía junto a la casa.

Mi hora favorita sin lugar a dudas era la comida, en esa mesa eternamente cubierta por un plástico cristal, donde había una taza de peltre con cucharas, tenedores y cuchillos del mismo material rebozando de ella para que tú simplemente tomaras lo que ocupabas y tan, tan. Lo mejor siempre era LA SALSA, mi abuela jamás de los jamases usó una licuadora para hacer la salsa, me encantaba verla tatemar jitomates, chiles verdes, cebolla, a veces tomate verde, para hacer esa deliciosa salsa que sólo se sabe hacer de una manera; a mano bajo la piedra que machaca en un molcajete los divinos ingredientes que hacen esa salsa que, no lo nieguen es la favorita de todos los mexicanos (a los que nos gusta el picante). Ese sabor, mi abuela desafortunadamente creo no habérselo heredado a nadie, la mayoría de sus hijos fueron hombres y ya saben, las mujeres son las que se quedaban en la cocina. No he visto que su única hija (mi tía Lety) preparara salsa tatemada, lo que sí recuerdo es que yo SIEMPRE quise hacer salsa como mi abuela.

Cuando tuve edad suficiente, y cuando ya vivía sola, tal vez tendría unos 22 o 23 años le dije a mi abuela que me iba a comprar un molcajete y que quería hacer tal y como ella siempre hizo, salsa tatemada. Ella me dijo, -hija, esto del molcajete no es tan sencillo, lo más fácil es conseguir la piedra, lo difícil siempre va a ser conseguir quién cure bien el molcajete- Fue entonces que me explicó que la piedra volcánica tiene que ser curada con harina de nixtamal para que el molcajete quede bien taponeado de sus volcánicos orificios para que no entre por ahí la melcocha de la salsa, cosa que luego se puede echar a perder y -Dios no lo quiera hija, andamos infectando a alguien de un bicho-

Empecé a ver cada vez menos a mi abuela, iba tal vez una vez al mes a verla y no había ocasión en la que le recordara de mi molcajete. Un buen día me dijo “HIJA YA TENGO TU MOLCAJETE” nomás que ahora no tengo donde curarlo, las tradiciones se acaban con los años y ya sabes, ya no encuentro un molino.

Al poco tiempo, mi abuelo murió y con él el espíritu de mi abuela, aquél molcajete se quedó ahí en su casa sin curar y yo la perdí a ella también poco tiempo después, me costaba un increíble trabajo volverme a parar en su casa y con el pasar de los años me olvidé del molcajete.

Ayer, soñé con mi abuela, era un sueño raro, estaba ahí mi mamá y tal vez mi hermano, lo olvidé casi por completo, pero en un momento del día recordé “ayer soñé con la abuela”, sonreí y seguí con mi día, salí de la oficina a recoger un par de cosas con mi proveedor de plantas y flores (sí, tengo un proveedor) y me encontré a un señor ya mayor vendiendo molcajetes, no traía dinero y dije, bueno, ya en otra ocasión será. Fui al banco, saqué dinero para el fin de semana, volví por un lado completamente distinto por el que me había ido y ahí de nuevo estaba el señor, cargando una cantidad enorme de molcajetes, (traía por lo menos unos 7) me volvió a ofrecer el molcajete y lo compré sin chistar en el precio. Todo el camino de regreso venía pensando en mi abuela y su salsa tatemada, en lo maravilloso que fue pasar mi infancia con ella y poder tener aún su recuerdo tan fresco que las lágrimas corren por mi rostro al escribir estas líneas.

Gracias abuelita! por todo, por tanto! y qué crees? YA ENCONTRÉ TAMBIÉN UN MOLINO DE NIXTAMAL. Va por ti!IMG_0109