Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Passing of Paca

Mom's feeling sad.
Her "Spanish mom" just passed on.
Paca was 82 years old.
She'd been doing poorly all summer, and last month they finally diagnosed that she had an aggressive brain tumor.
Mom's really feeling sad.
Want to talk about it, Mom?
I really loved Paca. I've known her since 1981. I decided to do my fieldwork based in Sahagún because she and her family (her husband Sergis and the kids, Piedad and Pedro) were so welcoming. When I moved here in 1982 with Jesse (he was 12), they took us in and helped make everything happen very easily. I would spend days visiting with Paca, hearing stories about how things used to be, her family, growing up with a widowed mom, struggling--I think she left school in 3rd grade to help with the family. She was SO full of life and enthusiasm--and stories! She was to "go-to" person in Sahagún if someone wanted to know about the history of the town, long ago or more recent.
She was really something, huh?
She was. See the photo of her dancing at the hermitage in April with her daughter? She was still walking to the Virgen del Puente hermitage outside of town (3 miles, round trip) this summer. She would welcome pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago and give them her famous galletas de hierro (a kind of pizelli cookie) and orujo.... She was SO vital and friendly!
And her kids adore her. To see how they have been caring for her in the hospital--such a close, loving family. I think most of us have no idea what it's like to be so close--Paca was still cooking and eating or visiting with or working with one of her kids every day--even though the kids are in their 50s! And Piedad's kids still slept in her apartment on weekends. The irony is, we came back to live in Sahagún because Paca was here.... Such a loss. I miss her greatly. I'll never forget her saying, "We burned the monastery!", referring to an event that happened in Sahagún in the early 1800s....
We're sorry, Mom.
Yeah, we really are. I guess it really is hard being alive. You die.
You said it.
But on the other hand, you get to live.

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