When I think about 1998, all I can think about is my grandmother, Maria Cruz. Maria Cruz was the matriarch of our family: she was the one who called the shots, bossed us all around, made the best tamales, was a tremendous cook, a talented seamstress and taught me so much. Maria Cruz was a mother of 12, grandmother and great-grandmother to many. She was unreasonable most of the time, she cussed and smoked too much but when you walked in the room her face would light up and she would look at you with her big brown eyes, telling a story without speaking a word. She’d give a great big smile and say “heeeeyyy!” I’d greet her with a kiss and a hug, feeling like I was the most important person in the room. I would sit and ask her how she was and she’d catch me up on all the family gossip.
In 1998, she summoned me to her house and requested that I organize the family for her 70th birthday and a family reunion. I did it, we all did it. Shaggy dj’ed and there was more food than people could eat. we had fun, we laughed and played games. Grandma was glowing; watching all of her family gather, seeing generations gather and celebrate her life. When I think about that day, I think about the legacy she left behind. I think about the family she built and the nuggets she deposited in our lives.
Two months to the day of our family reunion, she died. And with her part of all of us died. We tried to keep the family traditions alive, but we couldn’t. She was the glue.
Since then, I’ve tried to create traditions for our children, something that they could carry on. Its only in the last two years, I have established some traditions for our family unit. At times, I find myself unreasonable and bossy, I can’t help but think about her and long to talk to her again.