January 15, 2007

My mother handed me a piece of paper.

On it, in a familiar hand, that I hadn’t seen in a while was a prayer in Spanish.

It was the prayer my Nana said over me the day I turned 15.

I grew up in a household divided. My mother being fiercely Mexican and my father looking so very white. I inherited my fathers skin tone and my mothers eyes. I learned how to make tortillas and menudo when I was 10. I understood Spanish from childhood. My mothers cousins children called my “El Casper”…

When I was 14 my parents asked if I wanted to have a Quinceanera. I decided that it was something I wanted and we planned a day that mixed Mexican tradition with my feminist upbringing. My grandmother and my Nana said prayers over me both invoking the Virgin. It was a great party. 🙂

4 years ago my Nana had a severe stroke that left her unable to communicate, unable to write, it limited her movement and she wasn’t able to stay by herself. Every Friday night (when I wasn’t doing a show) for 3 years from 5:30 until 9:30 I was at her house, making her dinner, talking with her in her limited vocabulary (mostly a mix of nonsense and Spanglish), watching romantic comedies with her.

She died in April. I was in her kitchen. She looked at the statue of La Virgen as she stopped breathing.

I sat there, weeping,  as I read the prayer that she wrote for me. A prayer about family and faith. She ended it the way Catholics have done for centuries “en el nombre del padre, del hijo y del espiritu santo…” but then she took my face in her hands and said “y que la virgen maria te acompane siempre…Amen”

I don’t miss being a Catholic. I miss my Nana so tangibly that it is hard to breathe sometimes. But today something transcended those feelings….

I wish I had words for it. But it’s been a bit of a mixed bag today. I’ll let you know when I figure it out…


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