No, we’re not pregnant. Dammit! But that’s another prayer not answered in the way I’d want it. It’s about my extended, somewhat unorthodox family. It goes this way. Margarita’s sister’s teen-age son fathered a daughter by the granddaughter of a dear friend. He then did the same for another girl but he married this one. They now have a son. The little girl’s name is Nahomi. She’ll be three in November. She’s every bit the spoiled princess that our Adriana is.
Nahomi’s and my relationship goes back to when she was just learning to walk holding on to the pews or helping hands in church at Youth Services. Ingris, her mom, seemed like the typical teenage mother in that she was always happy when a cousin, aunt, or English teacher took the baby off her hands. I love children. I was one myself once. The little one took to me and I to her. At this time I didn’t know who the father was. In fact, this was before Margarita and I were seeing each other.
Even later on when I was visiting Margarita at her home in Casa Blanca, and her sister Mercedes and she would gab as women do I didn’t catch on to their rapid conversations about son Elvis and his sexploits. Elvis would come on his motorcycle with a skinny girl behind him and I wouldn’t say anything about the bump in her jeans. I don’t know when it was all put together for me about his being Naomi’s father. By then she knew who I was and would come to me as would my own daughter.
Two years later and Elvis is paying child support. Ingris is going to Saturday school to finish her education. Her mom says she gets no marks lower than 8 (where 10 is tops). We and the Cruz family exchange visits. My kids love to visit Nahomi and have her visit us here. I especially enjoy this funny, bright, loving, playful little girl.
She loves to talk and ask questions. She counts spontaneously to at least five. She can choose “have ice cream” over “play on the swing” with a little careful thought when given the choices. She’s got dimples to die for and she’s finally decided that my laptop is not a TV even though she can see the videos of her I’ve taken on the screen.
She spent most of yesterday with us. She lent a special liveliness to the house before Luís and Adriana came home from school. She relished Margarita’s crisp golden chicken and chipilín soup. OK, not so much the soup. Even I had to adapt to its looking so much like much missed split pea soup but not having pea soup flavor. I let the girls walk her back home when it was time. I’ve had too many good-byes with my daughters after a visit and they still hurt.
Today, Saturday, we were all kind of doing nothing. I have no tolerance for nothing. I asked everyone what they’d like to do. Mari suggested we go see Nahomi. Everyone perked up. So, we walked to El Angel to Rosa the young grandma’s house. Nahomi greeted us with her dimpled smile. Uncle Walter and his son Bryan were there eating oranges. We sat down and were given oranges. Margarita and Mari peeled them and sliced them in half the wrong way (a Salvadoran custom) making them impossible to eat in sections as we are used to doing. So, with juice running down my chin onto the floor and pits piling up everywhere I made the best of it. Watching Nahomi dig into hers was a riot. She ended up changing clothes and I ended up scrubbing orange juice off my hands and face. It’s fun sometimes to be gauche. When in El Angel, do as the Angelenos do!
When it was past noon and Margarita had hinted that it was lunch time, I asked Nahomi if she’s like to come with us. She jumped with joy. She walked all the way home holding my hand. What a good feeling. After more than a year with Adriana I still can’t get her to hold my hand if her mother is available.
At our house, Nahomi became a chucho, a doggie, and I became a frightened victim of this vicious mongrel and her “guao-guao”. I kept making her laugh until even my sides ached.
We had lunch then walked to the park. The slide was covered with bird poop and there was a large puddle at the bottom. So, sliding was limited. The apparatus that on which I do my pull-ups and Adri loves to do her gymnastics on was crawling with nasty little ants whose bites are painful and lingering if you can’t wash them with cold water quickly. So that was out. Instead, we went to the little stand in front of the school and had ice cream. The little girls got theirs in a Styrofoam cup so they wouldn’t make a mess. Lucky them, they got more than we did on our double dip cones and we paid an extra dime for them. Wise uncle that I am, I knew Nahomi wouldn’t be able to finish her cup and that would mean more for me. Ha, ha!
We walked home and the girls took showers. Nahomi with Mari. They got Nahomi dressed in a pretty white dress when Ingris came for her daughter. I got a double dose of sugar from Nahomi’s besitos (little kisses) and off they went.
It not only was another blessed day of fun in my retirement, but a further reminder of how important family is. I miss my children and grandchildren in the U.S. very much. Memories from five, ten, or fifty years ago are like a movie with big chunks missing from the reel. But God has not abandoned me to a life of loneliness in exile. He’s given me a wonderful wife, four lovable kids, a niece who is a precious jewel, and a really nice extended family.