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Escrito por Lady M in Zihua desde 184.108.40.206 (dsl-189-147-28-132.prod-infinitum.com.mx) el día domingo, 11 de enero, 2009 a las 15:41:06 horas :
The first time I came to Zihuatanejo (1973) I met a wonderful woman and her family. She was not much taller than my 10-year old son but she had 5 children of her own. Her name was Maria. She was not sure how old she was as she had no birth certificate and she had not been raised by her Mother. At the time I thought she was probably 5 years older than me. (Start guessing)
Not only did Maria take care of her 5 children but she took care of the children that her husband brought to the family from an earlier life (5 others). She also took in lots of other young people. Maybe they did not live there all the time, but she washed clothes for some that had no one to do that for them and her kitchen was always open for any young one who did not have a place for food. Doing laundry on a scrub board for that many people was a feat that not many would have ever taken on. She took it in stride.
I went on my first Mexican "road trip" with Maria and her family. We went to Petacalco. We went in a pick-up truck with a cattle rack on the back and packed in for a day at the beach. I had no idea where we were going or what the day would be like. Once there we played in the water, skipped rocks, laughed, played chase games, and ate and ate and ate.
The first time I ever tried raw clams was at Maria's house. I finally put one in my mouth and the longer I chewed the bigger it got with Maria standing patiently to see how I was liking it. Unfortunately, I have never eaten a clam again. Just not for me.
When Maria came to Arkansas with her husband to visit my parents we had several experiences together that were just too much fun, but the one I will not forget ever is when we were in a Mall and we needed to go down one floor. All of us were anxious to see how Maria handled this as she had never seen an escalator before. There was the escalator with us all watching and standing around. I told Maria we were going down on it and I got on. When I turned around and looked Maria was standing watching me as I went down. My Mother and sister were standing and laughing with her as she was too nervous to get on. After several times of watching us go up and down she finally decided she was ready. Instead of just stepping on she took a hand and gave a little jump and she was on. We rode the escalator more than one time that day. It was great.
Standing out in the front yard at my parents house whe saw snow for the first time. It was cold and she told her husband she had to go back inside soon or she might just turn into a paleta. I always think of Maria when I eat a popsicle.
After my husband and I got married Maria taught me to make tortillas by hand, because he liked her tortillas so much. Now where did I say I made tortillas like she did? Hers were the regular size: 6 or 7 inches across and round and as close to perfect as I ever saw. Mine on the other hand were about the size of a small biscuit but not so high. I practiced with her but never quite got the hang of how she made hers. I never remember going there for a meal that Maria did not make tortillas for everyone. That was just something that she thought she needed to do for all who ate at her house.
My Grandfather, who was in his mid-60's about then, was in Mexico with my parents, my son, and me when I spent my first Christmas in Mexico. It was spent at Maria's house with her family. A small Christmas tree we had brought with us in the camper we came down in was on a big table they had put in the corner of the big room they used for living. Presents for everyone were stacked under the tree and Maria let me help cook that first Christmas dinner I had here. Of course, I did not have a clue what I was helping to make until she told me we were having Pozole. Again a 1st. Maria introduced me to pozole.
When I come to Mexico Maria is the first person I go to say hello to and the last person I go to say goodby to before I leave. She and I have shared happiness and sadness over the years. We have tried to fix the woes of the world together over breakfast or lunch and laughed so much occasionally that we cried. All together.
Another first was yesterday starting at 3:30 in the morning. My friend, Maria, passed away. When I arrived here in Zihua this time, I had only been gone for 7 weeks. I could not believe that it was my friend I was seeing when I went to see her. She had been diagnosed only 5 or 6 weeks before but she looked like she had aged many years since I had seen her in October.
The 5 kids I met so long ago are grown with kids of their own. Arturo, Poly, Lily, Marta, and Lucia have lost a wonderful Mother. Their children have lost a wonderful Grandmother, Maria's Mother has lost a beautiful child. And I, as well as much of Zihuatanejo, have lost a special friend.
Hundreds of people came to pay their respects yesterday and last night at Lilly's restaurant to a person that has been the heart of the area and the pier for the past many years. Lilly's is the same place as the house I met them the first time I was ever here. The people came with flowers until I thought the room would burst not only with the amount of flowers but with the aroma. It was beautiful. They came to hug, to cry, to console and to say goodbye to Maria.
As I talked to two of her children last night we talked of the things we remember, and we decided on one thing. Maria would have loved being there last night, if only to make the tortillas for all her friends and family. We could almost see her little hands fast at work and hear her infectious laugh coming from the kitchen. She will be truly missed.