My Letter to Maria
Thank God for Mandy for if it weren’t for her we wouldn’t have met. I confided in her all those years ago and she listened with an open heart about my problem finding a good babysitter for Jonathan. I know she felt bad and even sorry for me. She said she was going to ask if you could make an exception and comeback from retirement to babysit my son, Jonathan. My prayers were answered when Mandy informed me that you wanted to meet us -- I was happy and relieved to finally have a sitter for Jonathan and I wanted to take him to you the very next day. However, you wanted to meet us first…
When I first met you about 16 years ago, I still remember it like it was yesterday—you opened the door at your old house on Flinthaven in San Jose looking like a doña as you checked me out from head to toe (like I was a bug). You actually scared me, you reminded me too much of my mom and in my mind, I wanted to turn around and leave—but something kept me there at your doorstep. Anyway, I came there on your request so that you and Jonathan could meet each other and see if this baby sitting arrangement would work out. I took a liking to you immediately because you were no non-sense. You told me you would treat Jonathan like your own. I continued to take Jonathan to you every day, but we didn’t say much to each other but hello, how are you and thank you. We wouldn’t grow close until a year after when I first approached you for $5.00. I swallowed my pride and asked you for $5.00 because I think I needed it for gas. Anyway, I forgot what I needed that $5.00 for, but you never asked me, you didn’t hesitate and you handed it to me. I was so embarrassed and you probably saw it on my face—the point is you didn’t judge me. That was the start of a beautiful friendship that in time grew to become an unbreakable bond – WE BECAME FAMILY.
You guys would take me on your camping trips, the Thornton Festa and those infamous Reno Trips. You introduced me to Aguardente; and you used to get angry with me and Tony and say we drank like horses and complained that you never had any booze in the house because of us. We would stay quiet until you were done ranting and ultimately, you would end up giving us shots of Aguardente anyway. During those years we lived in San Jose were my years of financial hardship and Jonathan and I hardly ate except at your house. But those were also some happy times. You took care of US, not just Jonathan. If I didn’t say it enough, I have always appreciated you.
These most recent years, we hardly saw each other, but when we did talk on the phone or I would visit you guys – it would last for hours, even days. I would always come away with the feeling of hope and of course, happiness. You always had the right words to say, and a solution to our problems. What I appreciate most about you was the reassurance you gave my mom when you last spoke to my mom—you put her at ease, letting her know that she and my dad had nothing to worry about because me and Jonathan were going to be fine in your hands. Here’s this perfect stranger that I didn’t pay enough to babysit Jonathan but had a Heart of Platinum reassuring my mom. You told me that You knew in your heart that if the tables were turned, and Sandy was in my position, my parents would do the same thing you were doing for me and Jonathan.
All I know is when I thought and felt absolutely alone – you were there for me. You helped me understand, communicate and improve my relationship with my parents with your “limited English.” I always found it funny when you said your English wasn’t that good because you sure didn’t have a problem with your English when I needed to be put in my place or if someone mis-pronounced your last name. On a more serious note and before I forget, of course I saved the best for last—Thank You for helping me raise Jonathan. I saw the pride in your eyes when Jonathan last came to your house in his Navy uniform – you had a hand in that and who Jonathan is today, so I hope you gave yourself a pat on the back and know how much he loves you too.
I’m going to miss you, Maria. God knows your were an Earth Angel which is why he promoted you to be OUR Guardian Angel; good for him and it sucks for Us. I guess it’s not for me to understand why and how God works in mysterious ways but to appreciate Our Loved Ones while we’re on our “borrowed” life here on Earth. At this very moment, I visualize you hanging out with your mom, Tio Manuel, Tio Erlindo, your brother Delfin and a few other loved ones I don’t recognize. I also visualize you meeting my Ama, my comadre Sami and hugging my love, Chris. You look good and at peace—you’re cool, Girl!
I don’t believe in good byes, so I’ll just see you later. Put in a good word for me because if anyone can convince God, it’s you. I love you, Mᾶe.
I wish for you what you wish for me - Mae, I wish you and OUR family peace.