Sunday, October 27, 2013

An Answered Prayer Of An Almost Third Grader

My mom arrived in the Armpit after we'd been there one week. Which meant I didn't get out of taking naps anymore.

It also meant I had to eat spinach whenever my grandmother chose to cook it.

And shopping. We went shopping at Valley View Mall. Clothes shopping.

This was fun for Grandmother and Mom. They chatted, they got drinks, they pulled ridiculous looking cloths off racks and held them up to my chest. They chatted, they got drinks, they pulled hideous pink monstrosities off racks and bought them.

"Mom!" I cry. "Jeans and t-shirts. Jeans and t-shirts. Please....jeans and t-shirts!"

She shakes her head. "You will dress nicely, Kara Denise. Jeans and t-shirts are not appropriate school attire."

I groan. I moan. I beg and plead. It does no good.

So, here I the Armpit, taking naps, eating spinach, and wearing pink slacks. I pray for a respite. I beg the Lord for a bright, shining moment where something will go my way.

After church, we head over to my great-grandmother's. She has a table set with various types of toasted bread. We run in and hug her. Before I tell you what she says to us, I simply must tell you that it is 9:30 a.m.

Great-grandmother, my namesake, says, "Did you have your ice cream?"

I smile. "Not yet, G.G."

"Go get your ice cream."

I dash off for the drug store, not worried at all that my mother will call me back and dispute G.G.

I laugh in glee and wicked excitement. God has helped me thwart my mother. Oh, happy day! Praying really does work!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Moors y Cristianos

She was born in 1892 in a valley in Spain. Her mother died when she was six. She left Spain when she was in her twenties and lived in Argentina and Cuba. She married her childhood sweetheart in 1919. She lived the remainder of her days in the Armpit. Which was a long time. She was 101 when she died -- May 24th -- three days before I graduated from high school.

Dionisia. My great-grandmother.

I am named after her -- Kara Denise.

She was a plump woman with a ready laugh, a shy quiet nature, and an overwhelming need to feed you. Her constant question, "Are you hungry?" was the first thing out of her mouth when she saw you.

Which worked out great for me because I was ALWAYS hungry.

One of my favorite stories about her centers around food. Beans and rice to be specific.

Beans and rice is a staple of the Catholic family during Lent. We don't eat meat on Fridays, so beans is our substitute. My great-grandmother made fantastic beans and rice, or "Moors y Cristianos" as she called it.

Into a bowl would go the rice -- or Cristianos. Then the beans -- or Moors. Separate cultures, a defined people -- which isn't what God intended -- who fought each other relentlessly.

Then she'd mix the beans into the rice -- just like the Moors mixed with the Cristianos. She would hand you the bowl and say, "See? Now you 'no can tell the deeference."

I loved her. Though she came to America and probably missed her home, never once did she expect you to embrace her culture in order for her to feel like she could practice it. She didn't scream her identity or force you to acknowledge the world she loved. She just was. She was an immigrant who had a great deal of respect for structure and opportunity in America. She became American. And loved her country. But...she was Spanish. And respected the people who came before her.

I was astounded by her. Truly impressed with how she risked changing her whole world for future happiness. She lived independently in Argentina, working and going to the opera, waiting for my great-grandfather to establish his business. Her strength humbled and inspired me. Her wisdom was unparalleled.

And there was one more reason to adore her --

My mother couldn't argue with her....