It’s a Part of Life by Jackie Villarreal Najera

I was born in a house my grandfather built. He built it with old lumber, my grandma said. He must have been a great carpenter because during many hurricanes the neighborhood houses fell but our house was fine. My grandfather was a native American. People know them as Indians. 

When I was four years old my mother was pregnant with my brother. My grand-father was eating a watermelon on the porch. My mother asked him to give her some watermelon.  He had said “No.”

I remember her asking him what could she give in trade?  

I guess in Indian culture you need to trade something more valuable than what you want. Probably not in all Native American cultures, but it certainly was my grandfather’s way.   My mother asked him what he considered valuable enough to get the watermelon? He answered like this “What do you treasure the most?”  

I remember her saying that it was her children. He then asked which one she loved the most? Mother did not hesitate and said “Gloria my eldest.” 

I was too young to really be jealous.

 Grandfather then said “Fine Gloria is now mine.”  Trade must have concluded because mother was then eating watermelon. The trade just meant that young Gloria would bring him coffee when he wanted it.  It was a silly trade but, that is how it was in my family.

 The next thing I remember of my grandfather, was him lying in a big box in our dining room. I think I touched him and he was cold. He had ice under him. I thought he must be cold. They tried to tell me that he was gone. I asked where had he gone to?

 My grandmother thought death was a just part of life. Then she said “He is dead.” Then I heard some music. I’m not sure if it was drums or not. Grandmother then insisted that the entire family would always go to all family and friend’s funerals. We went to all the funerals we were invited to.

 I really do hate funerals. I have gone to my dad’s and my younger brother’s and a close friend. I try to avoid all funerals. I do remember my grandmother telling me,

“It’s part of life.”




















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