Tuesday, January 7, 2014
An eighteen year old young whooper snapper from Kansas with a wild horse attitude and his best buddy Rex, could drive to Mexico in a beater car in 1955 not knowing a lick of Spanish. In those days, all you had to do was pull into a filling station and say, "filler up!" People knew what that meant and the ones who didn't, we waved a five dollar bill.
"You must have loved her," I'd ask.
"Well sure I did." he would say with the day's newspaper partially covering his softly shaven face. I liked sitting next to him on the couch, the way he smelled, always of Old Spice and a hint of cigarette smoke.
The two friends drove for two days to get to Mexico where Susana lived with her parents. They didn't let anyone know they were leaving just because they didn't plan it out. Della Hopkins, his mom was a single mother of seven who worried sick not knowing if she'd see him again, her youngest son. I used to lay in bed staring at the green walls and wonder if she woke from a deep sleep the night they hit the donkey on the highway where the mountain curves in a dangerous circle right before you see the town of Parral's lights.
"He came without a warning and I barely had time to put on lipstick!" my mother added.
"You should have seen your grandpa Diaz. He put on his smoking jacket and combed his hair straight back wanting to make an impression."( Do people actually own velvet smoking jackets, I always thought that was a Saturday Night Live joke.)
The sparks that flew that night at the football game in Paola, Kansas where they met made my mother start to like the foreign country where she was forced to study. It had been her mother's dream to study in America and play the piano but since she caught typhoid fever, her dream was pushed onto my mother.
"I left my country for that man! My sisters never visit me and one of them said I was the one who left them so it was my obligation to visit," she would recall at times looking into the distance. "Love is a state of mind," and then she would call him for dinner. Always confusing was that statement, making me choose sitting on his side of the table.
Your grandmother planned the entire wedding, even the dress. I felt like it was her wedding but we didn't care, Your dad wanted to elope and I almost took him up on his offer. Don't you ever tell him, she would laugh. He had one good suit but he wore brown shoes and my sisters thought it was the worst thing he could have done. I told my mom if she said one word about the shoes, I wouldn't speak to any of them.
January 7, 1955 they married with wealthy friends and gifts of crystal and a gold bracelet made of coins that was sold years later at a pawn shop so they could make another yearly trip to Mexico. I had dreamed of wearing that bracelet but Grandma Della said it would bring too much attention to me and that wasn't good for others to be jealous of their kinfolk.
Fifty eight years lasted longer than the six month prediction by my French grandmother who said Americans were nothing but trouble, he couldn't speak Spanish, a dangerous man.. Tonight is also the anniversary of my first date with my now husband of thirty six years and it's the last chuckle of my day because dad predicted six months for us. What is love and how long does it last? My parents couldn't speak each other's language but learned in time. There are days when I think my husband speaks another language and days when he speaks mine. Happy anniversary to all those celebrating! I wish you courage, happiness and a bit of Rosetta Stone.
Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.