Tuesday, January 4, 2011
My relatives left this afternoon. I feel good about the visit, for all kinds of reasons - my kids have a closer relationship with their Abuelita (Grandma) and Tia (Auntie) and Primas (cousins). They have made a connection with their Mexican heritage that will last, even if they don't recognize it for years to come. They speak better Spanish now - it was wonderful to eavesdrop on the girls playing and hear Hope and Paloma speaking in full sentences, even negotiating and arguing in Spanish. And they just had an old fashioned good time over the holidays, playing in the snow, decorating the Christmas tree, and jumping on the trampoline. My nieces had never seen snow before, and so the six inches we got in the Thanksgiving storm was a real treat for them. It was a blast to watch the girls rolling around in the snow and playing with a delight and exuberance usually seen only in puppies experiencing their first snowfall.
I derived some real benefits as well - for years I have wanted to know my sister-in-law better. Since the first time I met her, I recognized that Temy is an extraordinary person. She is a doctor, having gone through medical school while also semi-raising her four younger brothers. She has an impressive array of talents, able to sew a wedding gown or fix a leaky faucet, able - according to my husband - to work like a man and also to be a tender mother and friend. Last year, Temy and I became Comadres when she agreed to stand as Godmother to Paloma at her baptism. Anglo-Saxons unfamiliar with Latino culture will not understand, but finally becoming a comadre was like entering into the family's inner circle at last (Compadre - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).
This visit was long enough for Temy and I to really enjoy each other's company; to get to know each other in a way we hadn't before, and to exchange life histories and practical skills. She taught me some rudimentary sewing skills; I taught her how to bake real bread and keep a sourdough culture alive. Temy also worked several long days helping Homero finish his shop and pitched in wholeheartedly in the general running of the household. It was a joy to spend time with my comadre and to get to know her lovely children better.
I have already mentioned that I also am gaining a very nice greenhouse, thanks to my brother-in-law and his friend. That will be a very present help come March. But the very best gift from this visit, the most important benefit, is that I hosted six house-guests for six weeks and retained my sanity and my good humor. That is not something I would have predicted. I'm not saying it was always easy - in fact, there were a couple of occasions when I totally broke down in wrenching sobs (thanks sis and mom for being there when I needed you), but on the whole, I bore up much better than I think anyone expected. After all, I was given less than 24 hours notice that I would be sharing my home with six other people for an unspecified amount of time - not a situation that most American girls are raised to anticipate, am I right? And Homero and I have a history, when it comes to family. I'm not going into detail, but let's just say it's a history that would lead him to believe I might not be up to the job of long-term hostess to his family.
Today after they left, my husband turned to me and said "I am so incredibly grateful, Amor, that you were so welcoming and kind and so patient with my family. I know it wasn't easy for you. I'm so proud of you and so happy. They all had a wonderful time. Thank you. You don't know how much your effort means to me."
Maybe not, but I know how much that little speech means to me. Those words were the greatest good that came out of this visit. Thank you, in-laws, for coming here for such a long visit, for putting me to the test and giving me a chance to rise to the occasion. Thank you, for everything you did while you were here - for the help with the house, for the cooking and cleaning and carpentry, for the sweet care of my children, for the friendship offered and the skills taught. But most of all, thank you for the opportunity to show the depth of my love, loyalty, and solidarity to my husband. Thank you for the chance to prove the same to myself.