My mother called me home yesterday. I had made plans but I couldn’t say no to mole. Those of you that have had it know what I’m talking about, but for those of you that are not Mexican inclined (that is what I have decided to call all my non-Mexican friends) mole is a traditional dish originally from Oaxaca. It’s chicken in a spicy delicious chocolate sauce and though it may sound odd, it is the most delicious thing ever.
When I drove into the driveway of my parent’s house I saw my grandfather sitting on the benches in front of our front door. My dog came out to run after my car. ”Hola abuelo, enjoying the sun, it’s so warm out here.” I said surprised. This is April in Chicago and the sun made it feel like June.
My grandfather has been alone since 1991 when my grandmother died. Well, that’s not entirely true- he has had several girlfriends and remarried once or twice too. So far, his wives/girlfriends have either died off or left in some fashion or another. I used to call him “grandpa pimp” for a while (never to his face of course). This was even more amplified because he used to have this hat that he got in L.A. which he LOVED. It said Los Angeles on it but all the letters were bright diamond-like stones. He was “bling blingin’ for the ladies,” I’d always joke. Now he is alone and claims he doesn’t want “the drama of a woman.” This, in turn means a lot of work for my aunts.
Abuelo gets on a plane every year after collecting his Christmas presents and flies to California to spend the winter in mild temperatures while dividing his time between Los Angeles and San Diego, where my two aunts live.
He came back to Chicago about a month ago. My mother says that he is getting older and more demanding to take care of. ”He just gets anxious sometimes,” she says. ”It’s more difficult for him to tolerate living alone.”
It was decided that between the family we would divide the weekdays and take care of him. My days are Tuesdays. I’ve decided to take this opportunity to record an integral part of my family history. My grandfather has a great memory and loves to tell stories once he’s asked. I learned this after he started to get depressed about getting old and to distract him I asked him how he had met my grandmother. He went on for forty five minutes about meeting her. He remembered everything.
Another beautiful thing has happened to make me want to record this important history. For the first time in our family we have a male born to carry on my grandfather’s name. Mateo Joaquin Montenegro was born on March 26th. All other Montengro cousins are girls. Being one of the oldest cousins in the family and a writer I see this as an obligation and privilege to record my family’s history.
My grandfather has had an interesting life so check back here for free lessons on life from someone who has lived it for a long time.