I have spent my life surrounded by family illness, witnessed my two grandfathers die young from very aggressive illnesses, one lost a leg, hand fingers and died of a heart problem but with gangrene in other parts of the body, the other died in his 50s, as a soldier in his teens he needed to hide in trenches so as not be captured by the Nazis, there he caught typhoid fever and this affected his heart until it failed.
My mother looked after him since she was only 4 and it was mostly my grandmother who supported her family. My mom didn’t study much or worked, she just stayed home and raised her family, she never even learned how to drive, my grandmother worked, traveled with friends to many parts of the world, always involved in activities, she remained single after zeide Pepe died and helped both her kids until the end, buried her only son who was a physician in his 40s from a terrible and debilitating type of skin cancer.
My mother buried a son at 14, my younger brother David RIP, and she passed a few years ago, she was only 77 and her mind was so sharp, she’d remember everyone and everything from her past, I called her the ‘Family Historian’, but her body had been ravished by the emphysema she had for years. I always thought she should have been a doctor, she was so good at taking care of sick people, she had so much love to give, but curiously enough my daughter asked her shortly before she passed if she ever had a dream of becoming something and she replied ‘An Anthropologist’ who would have known, I guess she just took on the roles that were needed but she forgot to love herself.
These diseases and many others became part of my life, why question what was obvious and which I had no control over, instead what I did was to develop an insatiable curiosity to understand why some people can live a full and joyous life under the worst conditions and others give up and live as victims for the rest of their lives. These are two very clear examples.
My grandmother who lost most of her siblings and parents in concentration camps, came to Mexico alone with nothing and no language at age 15, my grandfather had been there a year, he was 18, working as a tailor and selling his garments on the streets, sent her a ticket and when she wanted to get off at the port of Veracruz they wouldn’t let her because she was under age, my grandfather got on the ship and asked the captain to marry them so they could start their lives in the free world.
I remember their small clothing store on Tacuba corner with Motolinia. It was one of my favorite things, going to help her sell clothes, dress mannequins, changing the windows and making them beautiful and at lunch time go with my ‘portavianda’ to the now famous "Café Tacuba" a block away to get each small blue pewter pot filled with the most delicious food, I loved everything there.
Both my grandmother and my mother were elegant women, always well dressed, coiffed, with make up, with jewelry matching their attire and polished fingernails.
My grandmother is my icon and the fact that I have been surrounded by so many family illness and that many passed so early in their lives, like my brother whom I loved so very much and know that today he would continue to be my best friend, that made me even more determined to live a full life and make it a “FUN ADVENTURE!” take risks and see what happens.
I live not only for myself but for those I love who did not have a chance for whatever reason to have this life experience I'm having, though part of it is painful, that's the part that sends rockets to grow and emerge better and stronger on the other side. That’s what we are here for, to grow, to evolve, not to be victims of anything, any circumstance or anyone, much less add the limitations made-up by our minds because we are not our minds.
I am very proud to say that today my icon is my own daughter who lives life intensely, with an insatiable curiosity, with kindness, integrity, achieving her dreams only to dream new ones. A life with purpose and on purpose. This blog is dedicated to her, she is my grandmother Etko’s and my beautiful kind mother Sara's legacy and a “Wonderful Human Being”, I love you so much Child o’mine ;)
A toast to all the women in my life, my Daughter, mother, grandmothers, cousins, aunts, nieces, friends, teachers, acquaintances, etc. Thanks to each and everyone, you have all taught me something.