Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tena-tive Travels Take 2

This week I'll be blessed to spend time with my beloved abuelita down in her home town of Tenamaxtlan, Jalisco. The last time I went was such a magical, unforgettable time in my life; one I honestly did not think would be repeated. The thought of returning there within a year's time is simply wonderful and I have a few people I'd like to take this blog post to thank for this opportunity at living out another dream come true.
Growing up, I hadn't had much contact with the Hispanic side of my family. Most of my familial influence came by way of my mom's mother, whose parent's immigrated to the Midwest from Norway at the turn of the century. Around my 20th birthday, I made contact with my father, who had not seen me since I was an infant. My life's ambitions not being much at the time, it was almost unfathomable to predict that over the next decade and a half, this "stranger" to my life would become such an important confidant. There isn't a week that passes that I don't think of him and the three sisters I have as a result of his second marriage. 
What a joy to have each of them; their individual personalities, strengths and character traits flavor my life with unexpected beauty. Knowing of them alone was enough to give my life a perspective it had lacked. I no longer lived fully for myself, but as an example for my younger siblings. Never mind that my younger brother never inspired such a reaction from me; after all, he's a boy! And aside from that, our older brother (step brother to me) always seemed to be our guide for what was cool, hip, current, etc. 
Getting back to my father, who came to America as a young adult to make a new life for himself... well, I guess all daughters have an idea of what a father should be, and learn to reconcile what we get from them with comparisons to that ideal image. Do I expect warm and fuzzy accolades and praise? No. I can count on him to tell me what he thinks of my decisions and actions with honesty. Sometimes my feelings get hurt by his words. Yet I know he loves me. Do I expect him to hug me when I'm sad, to tell me Everything is going to be alright, hija... No, I don't think it's reasonable to expect him to treat me as if I were a young girl, living under his roof, to be coddled and comforted. I'm now a grown woman with children of my own... hard to believe but a truth I must face now that I am in my mid-thirties. Sometimes I get emotional talking to him. My voice breaks, or tears leak out and I sniff and snort with abandon as my nose runs and think, How embarrassing! And yet, he continues our conversations as if it is normal ( I guess it is, I do it so often :-) ) In other words, he loves me the best way he knows how. I'm very grateful for that. For the chance to get to know him, to learn from his life's lessons, to follow along with his changing ideals and dreams as he does mine.
A few years ago, my aunt Natividad reached out to me through the power of yahoo email and her type-A+ student son, mi Primo Luis. I have known acceptance and love in a form I had never expected from my sweet considerate Tia and her thoughful, funny son. When I write here, I write to you, to them, to my chosen assembly of family and friends. To share a snippet here and there, and have it read with enthusiasm... to have it shared with my loved ones who don't access the internet... talked about, praised, inspired by... well, it's an unexpected blessing to say the least. 
I have my aunt to thank for the inspiration to pursue the dream that started for me the afternoon Ray took me to eat at a Mexican restaurat early in our dating. As I've written before, on the wall there was a large map featuring the small town of my heritage, Tenamaxtlan. I dreamed out loud that one day I would love to take my daughter to meet my grandmother in her home. He told me then, of course, you will. Little did I know that I would have to little blond hijas, or that political unrest and drug wars would cause such unrest that taking them to Mexico would be considered unsafe for them to adventure along with me to. Regardless of how my dream played out, last year I was given the opportunity to visit mi abuelita and not a day has passed since that I don't include her in my prayers. If I needed permission to want to know more about my family, or maybe just an angel in my corner of persuasion at being given a chance to see for myself the home that she and her sisters-my sisters- grew up in, mi tia is the one I find in my corner, clothed in God's love and light. It seems that whenever life is getting to me, a simple card or note of encouragement from her finds it's way into my heart and uplifts my soul. 
Spending time with my grandmother was fulfilling on so many levels. After years of pining for the simple luxury of holding her hand, in silence, if need be, we finally rested together on her tiny love seat. After so many times of wondering, Why do I seem to be built so different from anyone else in my (mother's) family, I was able to feel with my own hands the same diameter of wrists, shoulders and knees that mi abuelita shares with me. And I was struck this afternoon by the grateful realization that, without my own mother' support, I may not have enjoyd all of this nearly as much. 
She raised me. She has made sacrifices I'm aware and unaware of for my benefit. How many women would be so encouraging of my relationship with a man they had been divorced from for so many years, had not recieved spousal support from, a man who to my knowledge had never followed through with any  attempt to  contact me through my formative years? Does she let the past interfere with my enjoyment of the present gifts of these relationships? Does she warn me that I'll be dissapointed, tell me that my feelings get hurt on purpose, attempt to disuade me from pursung these long-dreamed-of meet and greets? No, for she loves me. 
Just as the best mothers do, she rejoices along with me. She suggests ways for me to show my appreciation, listens to my stories, reads my emotional outpourings here on my blog, answers the phone with all the love I could hope to hear on the other end of the line when I'm homesick to hear a familiar (American) voice, helps me with my Spanglish, and admires my photographs of family she only heard of as a young lady less than half the age I am now. She loves to see my happiness. Her heartfelt involvement allows me to embrace my "other" family with none of the restraint I might feel if I was afraid of her disapproval.
 I get the feeling that, although my parents haven't seen each other in a literal lifetime, they are given the opportunity to see each other within me. They make up for past resentments with each other through their inquiries about my interactions, and being grateful for that gift, I am able to be open with each of them about my own familial concerns, share my stories celebrations with delight, keep a space for them both in my heart~ the place where dreams are born. 
 Follow along with me this week for another emotional journey to la casa de me abuelita y mi padre en Tenamaxtlan, Mexico~ a place where dreams were realized and expanded upon. You can read all about me last trip there under the "Travel" tab up top :-)
Now I want to know- what would be your most heartfelt dream come true? Who would be most impacted by it's realization? Ever met someone you'd only heard of only to realize they were a vital but missing part of your life prior to your introduction? I'd love to read about it, comment below, & live well, friends!

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