My Three Mothers by Jackie Villarreal Najera

I had what I considered three mothers. “Amabuelita” was my grandmother who was very strict. Whenever we cooked with the pots and pans we had to wash them even before we ate. If we used a glass for water we had to wash the glass immediately. Even though she was strict I knew she loved me and spoiled me.

My grandmother liked to crochet and knit. She often crocheted with her best friend Maria Pantoja. When I asked “Grandmother could you teach me?” Her response was always “No.” I would say “My cousins are learning how to knit.” Then she’d say, “Your cousins don’t even know how to keep the house clean not even the bathroom.” Now I knew that my aunt’s house was clean (her daughter) probably not to my grandmother’s standards.

After I kept begging to learn to crochet, she would say, “I will crochet anything you want. It’s bad for your eyes. Maria Pantoja agreed with grandmother about everything.

 My grandmother would visit my aunt once every few months. She once came very angry after her visit. My aunt had thrown away a wilted lettuce. She said “Why didn’t she give it away before it wilted? It is a sin do that.” She said.

My grandmother was very generous. Every Sunday and holidays before we ate supper, grandmother would fix a plate of food. Then she would send me to take a neighbor the plate. It wasn’t always the same neighbor. Grandmother seemed to know all our neighbors and who needed food.

 My Tia Vika was my aunt who was also very strict. I also knew she loved me. She was also very generous with people but especially with my mother. She was my mom’s older sister. When my mother was not feeling well my aunt would her bring tea in bed. My aunt was very partial to melba toast and felt it was a good thing for illness. I really didn’t know how that worked? 

 Once I was forced to take a class in sewing. I had been in the library reading as always. When suddenly the principal caught me, and told me to go to the only class that was left was sewing. I hated sewing. I was late to the sewing class and the teacher told me to buy a pattern and material. She said all of your classmates are already sewing so you can start at home. “Do you have a sewing machine at home?” “Yes.” I answered. “OK then start your project at home”

I had no idea how to start the project. The teacher did give me some sewing instructions on and how cut the pattern, then how to pin the pattern to the material, and then to start sewing. Quite honestly, to me it sounded like Chinese. I don’t speak Chinese.

 My aunt was like my grandmother. When I took the pattern out of the package my Tia Vica asked me, “What are you doing?”

“I have to make this pattern.”

She immediately started cutting the pattern and then she started sewing it, the entire time giving me directions on how to sew it.

 When she finished sewing my project she, said “You don’t have to learn to sew because it’s bad for your eyes. As long as I’m alive I will always sew whatever you want.” I always felt bad that both grandmother and my aunt worked eight to nine hours every day except weekends. They did so much for us.

 My mother was also very generous. I would send her fruit from California. She lived in Texas. Every time I’d sent her fruit she would give it away. I went home to Texas to visit my family. I am a Texan too. I discover that my mom had been giving the fruit away to neighbors.

 I asked, “Why not give the fruit to my brother or sister? They don’t need the fruit and my neighbors do.”  I felt like telling that it cost me a lot of money to send the fruit. I knew it was useless.

 When I was young my mom would sometimes sit next to me and twist my hair into a knot. It would take all day to unravel it. She would say she felt nervous.

When I would say that I felt, sick mom would panic.  First, she gave me castor oil, then she would bring me tea and orange juice. I felt I would blow up with so much liquid. Finally, my aunt told mother to rest.  She had been by my side all day even as I slept. My aunt said she would take care of me. Her idea of taking care of me was soup and melba toast.

 My mom couldn’t sleep and started her tea routine again. She couldn’t bear to see me sick.  I felt bad when my aunt told me my mother was getting sick from not sleeping. She said “Your mother loves you a lot.’ I knew that.

 Having three mothers who were strict in everyday life was sometime very hard.  Knowing they loved me was everything. All my mothers are gone now. I do miss all of them. I have to admit that I don’t how to sew or crochet or knit. I feel bad I never learned.  Sewing on the other hand is still terrible.

 I am glad I still don’t how to sew because  I still hate it!




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