Sunday, January 07, 2007

Last Time...

Last time I saw Tula was at my dad's funeral. It was a day or two afterwards and she and her husband, Beto, were still at our house helping out with the cooking and various other tasks. Tula was about seventy at the time and ornery as ever. I remember waking up and smelling breakfast cooking. I found her in the kitchen drinking beer and making potatoes and eggs. I told her how much I liked her potatoes and she replied, "well, if your pinche mother would learn to cook them right, you could have them all the time." Most of the pictures I have of her she's giving the camera the finger...

I am out in Arizona for the BCS game, but am staying in a hotel near enough that I was able to visit Tula and Beto again. I haven't been to their house in almost fifteen years. Growing up, it was a place I hated. It was hot, boring, and I knew that the grown ups would stay awake all night drinking and laughing, and that I'd get bored and have nowhere to sleep that was quiet. They have six kids, and they were grandparents by the time they were in their thirties, so there were loads of people at the house all the time--it was a constant party.

This time, the house was empty, only pictures left of the people who were once there. Beto has lost his hearing, and Tula is dying of pancreatic cancer. Last night, my mom expected her to go this morning, but said I could come say goodbye if I'd like. She heard I was coming when she woke up this morning and insisted on sitting up and brushing her hair before I could see her. She looks much like my dad did in his last days--skeletal and weak--but still smiled and was ornery as ever.

Beto showed me pictures of his time in the Army, just after WWII, when he guarded POW camps in Germany. It was strange, seeing him light up and tell me stories about the pictures, stories which seemed so similar to what I am doing now, and what I have done. I guess times change, but not so much that we can't relate.

I found a picture of my mom and her brothers and sisters with my grandparents, and he's wearing a tie that I now own and often wear. My mom looks to be about six and oddly, looks exactly the same. It's strange to think that this photo was taken when my aunts met their husbands, all of whom but one are now dead, but at the time, they had their whole lives ahead of them.

It's the second time I've had to say goodbye to someone I know I will never see again, and I hope it will be the last.


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