Happy New Year everyone. It's easy to get swept up in the joy of having finished 2020 and charge straight into 2021, but we have to remember the people who could not come to 2021 with us. Our lives are filled with all sorts of people, and every single person we've ever met has had an influence on us in some way or another. This post is dedicated to the influential people in our older buds' lives:
Pushbutton- A Tribute to my Aunt Doris
And there in my life, a little girl’s life, appeared a new member of the family. A beautiful, so brown, this lady was my uncle’s new wife. Pretty, black, deep waves in her hard-pressed hair, neat. A big generous wide mouth smile that she smiled for me and that was sweet. That genuine smile, generous smile should only be from a mother for her favorite child. And I melted. She grabbed my hand, she squeezed my hand, I melted. Grabbed her hand and she squeezed my hand back and I would follow her for miles. I was so enamored with her.
The aunt changed from her Sunday clothes to a house dress and a head rag. She’s my uncle’s wife and my grandmother’s new daughter and caretaker. Boy am I glad. My grandmother warned me, “Don’t laugh at how she talks. This lady is from the Deep South and she has an accent”. I wouldn’t care if she did the camel walk, I was so enamored with her.
In the kitchen she swiftly went to work lighting a stove with the same match she lit her cigarette, grabbed a huge wash tub and scrub board, a bale full of soiled men’s shirts, filled the tub with hot water, fed my German Shepherd dog, wheeled my grandmother in front of the TV, made me a bacon sandwich (my favorite), and all the while she smiled. And after she did all that, she took care of her brother in laws, my grandfather, my grandmother, the German Shepherd, and also went to work from three to eleven in the afternoon to work at Linton’s. She was a superwoman. And she was a farm girl, she was used to doing hard work, so that was nothing to her.
A loose curl crept across her forehead, full of shine and sweat. She winked her eye at me and said, “How ya like that? Pushbutton.” and I said, “What is pushbutton?” And pushbutton taught me how to hurdle laziness. And you use pushbutton when you have jobs to do while you’re tired with a smile and a wink of an eye. Pushbutton meant you push yourself past what you’re able to do. I never saw her take a break. She was always happy working. But she called it pushbutton because she went past her tiredness to continue to get a job done, and so she was a good example on what to do when you’re tired but you still have work to do.
And that’s about Aunt Doris.
The Meaning of a Kindness
That day that came to settle all my father’s dreams, fears, paradoxes and constraints, it came to him suddenly and painless as he would have desired. At the age of 72, he accomplished one of his dearest aspirations- to be productive and independent. The proof was that when his last night came, he was prepared to rest from the day of his work and from a life devoted to responsibly confront all kind of struggles, accomplishments, and issues as he always did. In his last day of his life, he prepared himself to sleep and sleep he did. He sat on his bed with his body wrapped with his pajamas, then he slipped downwards and the mattress received his dead body due to a generalized heart failure. He had no time to do or to think or nothing. Not a chance to say goodbye, not to say ‘I love you,’ not for even a farewell gesture or a welcome smile to the new life he was initiating. After that in this engagement moment, is idle to say that my parental house that always looked so alive lost that spring of energy and my mother who has always been like a mockingbird around my father turned into a hopeless, most incapable to provide the vitality that in past times was imprinted in each corner of the house. My wife Maria and I decided to live with her. My father’s name was seldom used since each of his memories was to my mother a reminiscence of his permanent loss. Several days after the passing away, one afternoon, the main door’s bell rang and as always I ran to open the heavy door. Outside, a lady was waiting for my appearance. She was almost 45 years old, rather small, dressed in a simple and a humble way, but with very clean clothes, and looked me shyly.
“Morning,” I said, “what can I do for you?”
“Excuse me,” she said, “I wonder if this is Mrs. Dominguez’s residence.”
“It is. What is the purpose of your visit?” I asked.
With gentle and low voice, responded, “I wonder if I can speak with Mrs. Domiguez.”
I replied, “Yes, yes you can. Please come in, and we’ll call her in a minute. “Please take a seat.”
“No no no no,” she responded, almost frightened, “I am here very well. Just tell her that Mrs. Lopez wants to speak with her.”
“Very well, please wait a moment,” I told her. My mother came immediately and opening the big door, invited Mrs. Lopez to enter. Mrs. Lopez advanced, her face look very serious, and began to speak before my mother could have the chance to invite her to sit.
“You don’t know me,” she said, “but I know your husband don Roberto. I sell newspapers in the street have a newspaper stand in the sidewalk. Nearby, 16th of September St. and Avenita Juarez. For years Mr. Dominguez as a clock, raining or snowing, in summer or winter, walked by that way. I guess he went directly to his work each day for years. He stopped by my tiny stand and after greeting me with a gentle buenos dias, he handed me a candy. He never missed a single day of this routine. That candy was for me a present of life. He didn’t speak a word more or a word less. It was part of my day, and also part of my life to see this gentle person going to work. Suddenly, his appearance subsided. I waited several days and didn’t see him. Then, I asked to my friends and neighbors and was informed that he lived in this house. I don’t want to bother. If he is ill, I don’t want to be an inconvenience to him. I just want to know how he is.” My mother was astonished. As Mrs. Lopez was explaining, my mother slowly and trembling began to approach her. At one point they were face to face.
Then, my mother said in a helpless voice, “Sorry, he is dead.” Both ladies embraced to each other, shaking as tears covered their faces. I guess, each of us is a witness or a recipient of the kindness and humanity. Nevertheless, each of our gentleness which this big human family around us that in a sense is our extended family. For sure, my father’s tenderness is living in Mrs. Lopez’s soul. God bless her.