Thanks for your great feedback from Part One!
The Wedding Trip, Part Two
With all of their paperwork in order, Grandpa, Elvira, and tia Nico prepared for their trip north for Elva's big wedding. Crystal was a bridesmaid (along with nearly every other teenage/early 20s cousin - it was a HUGE wedding party), so we had many trips for dress fittings, bridal showers, and other wedding prep. The elderly trio took another long bus trip from Santiago to Durango, then from Durango to Tijuana. Their journey took days. Grandma Mercy made room at her house for them to stay. I was thrilled. They would be just around the corner from home.
The day they arrived we stayed all day at Grandma's house visiting. Other relatives rotated in and out to welcome them. At one point after hugs and unloading of luggage, Grandpa got teary. Quietly in Spanish Grandpa spoke, "I did not realize how much I missed all my family until I was on my way here." His tears flowed, and he could not stifle his sobs. In true Velasquez fashion, the other people in the room froze with their eyes darting around the crowded room. Nothing makes us feel more uncomfortable and helpless than an open display of emotion. Mom was different. She stepped to Grandpa, put her hand softly on his shoulder. "We missed you too," was all she needed to say. Sweet Elvira approached the pair and whispered (loudy), "All the way here he was concerned about how he would be received." Mom nodded. Tia Nico shot Elvira an angry look. She was in trouble for betraying her brother's confidence. Tia Nico saw her lifelong role as protector of her older brother, protecting him from his emotions and his generous nature. Grandma Mercy broke the uncomfortable moment by announcing what everyone in the room already knew. Dinner was ready. All the kids should wash their hands and serve themselves a plate. The background chatter in the room returned. Grandpa pulled a neatly folded handkerchief from his front pocket and wiped his eyes. I learned that a caballero like Grandpa never leaves his house without his sombrero and a neatly folded handkerchief.
The exciting day concluded with Dad making plans to take Grandpa to visit some of his old friends. I asked Dad if I could go with them. Caught off guard, Dad began to shake his head and was opening his mouth to say it was not a good idea, but Grandpa interrupted. "I was just about to invite you to join us," was his response. I smiled and nodded vigorously. Mom spoke to Elvira and tia Nico, asking if they needed to go to the store or wanted her to take them anywhere. They looked at each other and thought for a moment, but there was nowhere they needed to go.
The next day the phone rang early. Mom and I were the only ones awake. Mom spoke to Grandpa and told him dad was just waking up (he was actually still snoring in bed). She told him he was welcome to walk down to our house to join us for breakfast while dad got ready. She went to wake dad and he reluctantly dragged himself out of bed and in to the bathroom. After looking up the street from our front porch I spotted Grandpa making his way down the street. I yelled through the open front door asking Mom if I could go up the street to meet him. Mom reminded me that yelling was reserved for emergencies in our house. I walked inside to ask. I ran up the street to greet Grandpa with "Buenos dias!" By the time we came through the front door we had decided I would practice my Spanish with him and he would practice his English with me. He had never been to our house. Mom poured him a mug of coffee and returned to the bacon and pancakes on the stove. Grandpa and I sat in the living room. I asked him about the children of La Lagunita who I had met 3 years earlier. Crystal and Edra woke up, washed up, and set the table for breakfast. Mom cooked eggs for each of us, and we sat to eat. Grandpa was confused. "Are we waiting for Guero?" he asked. Mom explained that Dad preferred for us not to wait for him. He ate when he was hungry, and knowing how slow his son could be, we would all starve if we waited for him. He laughed in agreement. Grandpa turned down another cup of coffee. He explained that everyone at Grandma's house had been up since dawn. He had sipped 2 cups there before deciding to take a walk. Halfway through breakfast Dad emerged from his room and joined us with his cup of coffee. Grandpa teased him about sleeping so late. On our way out the door Mom told Grandpa that she would be expecting him every morning for coffee while he was in town. After that he walked down every day. banquet dresses
We visited Grandma's widowed sister-in-law Natividad that day. Grandpa offered his condolences on the death of her husband. We spent some time in the cool tiled living room of Frank "Kiko" Mejia and his lovely wife Connie in Alta Vista. We continued down La Casa Street through the old neighborhood where Grandpa spotted his old friend don Maxmilliano Reynoso who let out a surprised cry when spotting us approaching his garden. They reminisced about the Basque families Grandpa had worked for in the 30s and 40s. Every old friend we saw that day received a sincere invitation from Grandpa to visit him in Durango.
Mom understood that even the most gracious and welcoming hostess needed a occasional breaks from her houseguests. Grandpa, tia Nico, and Elvira joined us for a few hours every few days to be a part of our family routine. We all rode to Edra's softball practice at Walnut Elementary School. Instead of sitting in a lawn chair with a book while Mom helped the coach, I had 3 chaperones to walk me over the the playground. They joined us for homemade pizza and salad, observing the symphonic routine where we all knew our roles - shredding, slicing, dicing, and tearing vegetables for the salad, saucing sprinkling, and arranging toppings for the pizzas. On taco night we kids moved our prep to the dining room. Mom had 2 helpers in the kitchen - tia Nico made salsa, Elvira fried shells, Mom split her attention between ground beef and guacamole. Both pizza and hard-shell tacos were new to them. We had to show them how both entrees were eaten. Grandpa was full of compliments at every meal. "Does it taste good? Are you enjoying your food?" he would ask us. "Then you should let the cooks know," he taught by example.
Grandpa and Dad planted 2 fig trees and a Washington navel in our backyard. They took a trip to Santa Monica to check in on Aunt Lupe's godfather Apolonio and make sure he was planning to attend the wedding. I had outgrown my dress shoes, so I had to stay back to shop for new ones. Tia Nico and Elvira joined us at the shoe store and we stopped to pick up some groceries. Elvira looked around the supermarket in amazement - so many products under one roof! Tia Nico who had spent months with Grandma Mercy 10 years earlier was more familiar with American products and our culture of consumerism. She took great delight in showing Elvira the washing machine in every home. Elvira could not understand how the agitator did not tear up the clothing.
The wedding weekend was coming soon. We all prepared for our road trip.
Part 3 (in a few days) - Porterville wedding and their return to Mexico