Sunday, May 11, 2008

Twelve Days And Counting: A Mother's Day Tribute

It's Mother's Day, y'all, so first off I want to give a shout out to all the hot mommas out there in the blog-o-sphere and beyond who are holding it down with strength, wisdom and cojones the size of watermelons!

Second, I'm going to give myself a big ol' pat on the back because, despite the HUGE, GAPING HOLES IN THE ROAD that has been my journey through motherhood, my girls, including Mari, are doing okay. For the most part.

Finally, I want to give props to all of my "moms" because growing up, I didn't just have one:

Ramona "Nenena" Ortiz-- the Matriarch of all Matriarchs, yo, this woman was HARD-CORE, okay? However badass I think I am, Nenena was that times ten... would tell a sucka off at the drop of a dime and not think twice!

She only lived with us for a small while before she moved back to DR, and she died the Mother's Day before K was born, but I'll always remember the smell of her pipe tobacco... so sweet; her long long hair, wrapped in braids around her head; how she would slip us a fiver and make us keep it a secret; the Stella D'Oro "S" cookies and ginger tea she would share with us; and all the funny/scary/creepy tales she would tell us. And if you ever crossed her... well, lets just say she had some "magic" up her sleeves for ya, okay?

For a long time after Nenena died, I would say to myself, "whoa, I've never since seen someone that strong in such a small body..." and then, N was born, keeping the badass Ortiz tradition alive and kicking, literally!

Grandma-- one of Nenena's four kids... y'all already know how I feel about this woman. No offense to my biological mother, but Grandma was the WORLD to me, still is; her death can't change that. Sometimes I'll do some fucked up shit and catch myself, saying, "Now, Raquel, what would Grandma say if she saw you acting a fool like that?"

She could cook like nobody's business, mind kids like she'd authored the manual on it, and had an open door policy for all wayward relatives. I distinctly remember one time when I asked her why she always cooked so much food if it was just us in the house. Her reply? "What if someone dropped by unexpectedly? You have to have something to offer them." Words to live by.

Most of what I push myself to do is to make sure her sacrifices were not made in vain.

Titi (Gloris)-- Another tough cookie, my aunt used to scare me as a kid so I *never* even fathomed misbehaving in front of her, but then, of course I fucked up- got pregnant at nineteen- and she called me up at school... "Oh, Rocky," she said to me, "I thought you were the smart one. I'm so disappointed." I made it a point to never again do something that would make my aunt utter those words to me. Her approval means that much.

Titi was also a bit of a spoiler, you know, the fun aunt who took you out and gave you stuff your mom wouldn't? Yeah, that was her. The running gag in the family was that I was supposed to be her daughter and Minnie should have been my mom's, because of all the immediate family, we were the only jinchas (high-yellow, for you non-Latinos). I suppose I should thank her and Grandma for this "ample bosom" as well?

Seeing as she's the oldest, Titi is the new Matriarch, keeper of the family history, maker of sancocho, truth-bomb dropper and Queen of Stank, which in my family is actually something we compete for!

Mami-- From what I'm told, we started out thick as thieves- I am named for her, after all; rumor has it that when I was a toddler and she would drop me off at Grandmas while she went out, I'd cry from the moment she left until the moment she came back. I was dubbed "crystal" by the Penzos (jealous bastards) because I'd cry at the drop of a dime if my mom left the room.

We're not TV sitcom close anymore, like I'd never share any deep, dark secrets with her, but I know in a jam she's totally there for me. She took us in after we left Waco; she bailed me out of some financial BS last year; she STILL buys me groceries and makes me lunch sometimes (yeah, Mari, I know you're jealous! HA HA HA). I can call her whenever I have no clue what to do about work or the babies or for a recipe, and she never fails to come with the bomb financial advice... whether or not I listen is my own problem...

The nameplate I wear around my neck? My mami's... She introduced me to music at a very early age, and made it a point to expose me to film and books and Broadway that I wouldn't have found on my own... and she'd never tell me to my face, because that's just our way, but she's totally my number one fan; that's something I hold on to.

This song goes out to all my moms...

The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson

*smooches...wondering what kind of Matriarch I'll be*
feel free to leave shout outs for the "moms" in your life; Happy Sunday!