Monday, May 31, 2010

Mi Tata (my Grandpa)

Mi Tata was born on November 28th, 1915 in a town called Bacanora, Sonora, Mexico. It was the middle of the Mexican Revolution. Pancho Villa was about to enter the town which meant that the town was going to be robbed. Unfortunately for my Tata, my Great-Grandma (Trancito) died during child-birth. Fortunately for the town, Pancho Villa spared the town of his visit in respect of their mourning. My Tata's name was Nicolas Galindo Arvayo. First last name is Spanish, the 2nd is Irish and he had the red-hair to prove it.

He worked in his father ranch the first years of his life but he did learn to write and read so he became the town's teacher for several years. When he was a teenager Mexico's government was against religion and a lot of churches were burned to the ground. Tata entered his church and saved a statue of St Ignacio de Loyola, the patron of his home-town. The statue is still in his house. During that time he and my Nana (Grandma) started dating, they were cousins in the 2nd degree. Tata and Nana married on January 23rd, 1943.

Before my mom (their eldest child) was born, Nana & Tata moved to the capital. My Nana's parents had a liquor store there and Tata went to work in it. Then, my mom was born, quickly followed by 13 siblings. Tata also had 3 more children with another woman, we met them a couple of years ago. Only one of my aunts has passed away and it was one of the biggest sorrows of my Tata. Aunt Isabel died of Lupus when she was 24 years old.

Tata enjoyed watching Box, every Saturday, when my Dad was alive, they would get together and watch it. He wasn't so much into it after my Dad passed away, the only time I remember seeing Tata cry. He did continue to watch Baseball, he was a passionate fan of the Naranjeros, Hermosillo's professional baseball team. He loved to drink beer, do crossword puzzles and write poetry. The liquor store eventually became a convenience store where Tata would pass his days up until a few days before he passed away.

I was born on November 28th, 1977. From that moment on Tata and I shared our birthdays and a very special bond. I loved to dance with Tata when I was very little. Don't ask me why I took that weird position, never been much of a dancer. Tata loved to dance and to listen to music. His favorite song "Valentin de la Sierra" spoke of a man that fought for freedom of religion during the prohibition years.

Me sharing birthdays with Tata also explains why I had a can of beer for a piƱata on my 3rd birthday.

As far as I know, I am the only grandchild to have ever received a Birthday present from Tata. It was a bag of M&M's but it meant the world to me. Tata always loved children and he had a nickname for every child born into the family and for our neighbors as well. My nickname was Teresa Tusa, for a lady in Bacanora who used a lot of necklaces and bracelets, just as I did when I was little. He was always the grumpy old guy at the store, yelling at children passing by but we all loved him very much.

Tata took my Dad's place at my QuinceaƱera and I always dreamed he would do it again for my wedding. He was the one to approve or disprove my cousin's and my boyfriends. He didn't approve of my College boyfriend. He didn't tell me anything until we broke-up though. After I moved to the US almost every time I went home he would ask: "So, did you get yourself a gringo yet?".

This was our family in 1993, during the celebration of Nana & Tata 50th anniversary.

We have probably doubled since then. 16 children, over 50 grandchildren and over 20 great-grandchildren is the legacy of Don Nicolas Galindo Arvayo. He passed away on May 3rd, 2010 at the age of 94. He missed his "vieja" (Nana) too much.

This year will be the first one that I do not share my birthday with you. Sometimes I resented that but now I know I'll miss it, just as I'll miss you.

I haven't found a gringo yet Tata, I'll keep looking.