Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Para Louie

powered by ODEOLast fall we lost Mimi. A woman who was always in my mother's corner while we were growing up. Mimi was boricua from the City and her daughters and my brother and sister and I grew up as family.

She made us pinatas for our birthdays...elaborate pinatas. She made a life-sized Big Bird for my sister's birthday one year.

Mimi braided our hair and let us play dressup in a chest filled with scraps and we did fabulous fashion shows.

Her living room and disco or salsa served as our music.

We were fierce.

I found out Mimi passed away last October after I returned from my Rogue River trip in Oregon.

Ironically the next to last day of our trip we had an eagle accompany us for about 3 miles. It flew from tree branch to tree branch, almost beckoning us to follow it. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, landing so gracefully among the boughs of the trees lining the riverbanks.

It led us to a beautiful camp spot, with plenty of trees, outcroppings for privacy, and shallow pools for bathing. There was plenty of firewood to be found as well.

When I returned and go the message that she died, I knew that eagle was connected to her. When I spoke with her eldest daughter, my cousin Taina, she said that her mom had a connection to birds like hawks and eagles.


This evening as I continue to procrastinate on my papers, my mother called after 11 pm her time.

She said that Louie was ill.

Damn, I thought to myself. We've been through this before.

Louie is Mimi's husband. Tall, amazing baritone voice that he used to sing with my father. They sang doo-wop sometimes when we used to visit each other's houses. They harmonized beautifully and talked about singing on the corners of New York City streets like this...and now they were in this suburban fantasy of Upstate New York with snow shovels and children and houses different from The City.

Louie was always affectionate, wise, filled with stories of music, and such a great father.

Mimi and Louie were my sister's official godparents, but they treated us all like godchildren. Always love and sleepovers and food and appreciation for our achievements and Christmases and Halloweens and Birthdays.

One Christmas my mother and mimi had a booth at a craft fair. They handmade beautiful pine cone wreaths. We collected pine cones in the summer and fall and in the winter, they decorated the front doors of countless neighbors.

Louie is ill.

I have no title for Louie. He's not just a Tio or a Papa or a Padrino. He's just always been a part.

Of course, I haven't seen him since my grandmother's funeral in 1999. I haven't been to upstate new york since 1995. A shame. This is a total shame.

Louie. Please take care of yourself. Know that I love you as a daughter who thanks you for letting me dance kimbamba and teaching me how. I miss Mimi so much and, selfishly, I am not ready to miss you.

Un abrazo a ti, y a Taina y Ayana. Te quiero muchisimo.

Siempre, tu Erika

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