Friday, October 17, 2014

Devastating News in the Colonia

The street I live on has only five houses on it.  One at the far end is occupied by a Dutch couple in their late 80's who have been in Mexico for at least 50 years.

At my end of the block, there are the next door neighbors' house, his brother's house on the other side and the two on my property.

Although I don't interact on a daily basis with my neighbors, we always acknowledge each other and speak.
I've never been in my next door neighbor's house but have been in his brother's house, just recently.

The children, 10 at my next door neighbor's house and 10 at his brother's house, have been my connection.

I've always brought toys, such as kites, bubbles, little stuffed toys and other small things back for them.  Once I brought plastic dinosaurs and the kids and I sat out on the street and played with them.

All wonderful kids.  Now those that were babies when I moved here are in their late teens!  One or two have "gone north" to work.  In other words, they're in the US working.  They all are so respectful and polite.  Several in both houses take music lessons.  I often see them going down the hill with their violin in the case or something else in a case for a lesson.

A couple of weeks ago, right after I returned, I was locked out of the house as I forgot my house keys.  So
I waited for about 1 1/2 hours for Javier, the gardener to come and let me in.  At the time, only he and Josefina had a key. That has been corrected.

While I sat in the car waiting, I noticed there was a lot of comings and goings at the brother's house.  The oldest boy stood in the doorway greeting people. I had a sense of foreboding at the time.  Their grandfather had lived with them for quite a while.  I wondered if he had passed.

In fact, when I spoke to the oldest boy I asked if all was all right at their casa and he told me yes. Many of the children speak English.

Then this past Monday I saw the black ribbon tied in a bow over the front door.  Oh no, my sense of foreboding was correct.  I spoke to Javier on Tuesday morning, my next door neighbor, to ask about the
family.

He told me that his brother had died of cancer.  I was thunderstruck and devastated.  I still cannot get over this.  To imagine the mother with ten children wrenches my heart.  Thankfully her brother-in-law and sister-in-law and all of their children are next door.

My neighbor was always, always out with the children.  They came down several times to use my big ladder to paint the outside of the house.  They came to my garage sales where I loved just giving them stuff.  How could you ever sell to a neighbor?  I can't.

At one point he wanted to buy my Pathfinder.  I told him he needed a van, not my Pathfinder and we both laughed.  I don't think he was any older then about 40.

My dilemma is that I don't know what to do for the family.  In the USA, I would be taking cooked meals to them for a while. But, since I don't cook in the Mexican style, I doubt that they would want my food.  I just don't know what is appropriate.  Can anyone help me?  Money?  Food? Then today I realized that the
Christmas holidays will be coming up in a couple of months.  Toys?

Probably one of the reasons I am feeling such angst is I remember how it was when my husband died and I had three children.  As the holidays came, I worked myself into such a state that I ended up sick in bed for at least a week with flu.  So, I'm feeling for the mother.

I admit that even though we talked all the time with each other, I don't know the man's name or his wife's name.  I'm embarrassed to admit that.  There are so many kids, that I can't keep all their names straight and a few years ago I stopped trying.

Nevertheless, I want to do something.  Any ideas or suggestions?  I would really appreciate it.

16 comments:

afish25 said...

I wouldn't worry too much about making the "right" food. Muffins or banana bread would always be welcome. It's the thought that counts, a way to make a connection and say I care.

Don said...

I agree with afish25

Babs said...

Thanks A Fish and Don. How interesting. I made banana bread last Saturday before I knew about my neighbor. I'll do that tomorrow and take it to them.
With 11 mouths to feed, I probably need to make 2 loaves!
Thanks for your comments.......

Calypso said...

Babs - it is traditional to take rice, beans, sugar etc. (uncooked) These are used in preparing food for the many mourners that will visit. Of course money is always well received.

You might recall our next-door neighbor in Xico died a couple of months ago and this last week we learned our American neighbor across the street from us here in Puerto, and a friend, passed away from liver cancer at 65. We have lost a close neighbor in both locations in the last 60 days - sad.

Babs said...

Indeed Calypso. The sadness of this loss is his age and of course, how many are left behind.

They had at least 50 people at the house the day I was sitting in my car outside. I was afraid she might be offended if I took money.

I think I'll bake banana bread, two loaves, or chocolate chip cookies and put a little money in an envelope with it. Thanks for helping me in my decision so that it is appropriate.

Benne' Rockett said...

Yes, I wouldn't worry about the right food. Make a big pot of tortilla soup! Fresh, warm and familiar enough.

Babs said...

Thanks Benne' - good idea!

vandy said...

Your famous, and oft repeated, spaghetti would be a hit anywhere. Have all the kids over to your house for a play day to give the grownups a break. Have John's kids over too.

Babs said...

Vandy, spahetti, yes. Twelve kids, no........You're VERY funny.

Retired Teacher said...

I just conferred with my friend Alejandro on the subject. He says to talk with the widow and ask if there is anything you can do help... including some monetary help.

Also, he says to send flowers to the "velorio".

Babs said...

Thanks Bill. I would have already gone over there, but, our ability to communicate is limited.

I'm cooking this weekend to take food over to them. Just want her to know I care.

gringosuelto said...

I'm sure whatever you end up doing, your warmth and caring will be appreciated.

I'm so sorry for your neighbor. That's a tough blow.

Saludos,

Kim G

angelinem said...

Hi Babs,

I live in Northern California and frequent a taqueria run by a family from Mexico. Recently they were asking for donations for the family back in Mexico because they could not afford to pay for the burial of a family member. Besides taking them your good food, a monetary donation would probably be most helpful.

Babs said...

Thanks Kim and Angelinem: Yup, I've got the stuff ready to start cooking and I'm going to give her a card with some money in it. I have no idea how they are going to survive. The good news is they own their home so they have few expenses EXCEPT raising 10 kids. Oh my!

Droelma said...

How recent is the death ? If it is during the nine days after the funeral, during the " novena " where people congregate every night to say a special rosary and then share coffee and pan dulce or tamales, you could provide them to begin with with a packet of coffee to make Café de Olla and whatever you like to go with it. You could also ask, if that is what you want, to sponsor ( pay ) for the one month mass....something that I discovered is often very appreciated.
Bringing neutral food, like rice, beans and pasta with cream, pineapple and cubes of ham are something you can't go wrong with.
Often with Mexican families when the breadwinner dies there is more to helping then just the " thought that counts ", because often people live from two week payday to payday and very few families have the cost of a funeral and what goes with it set aside.
Maybe a package of the " canasta basica " ( here in Mexico City they come in boxes, or buckets and hold rice, beans, oil, sugar and other basic items ) could be of help ?
You are a good neighbor and I am sure you will find something that will help the family; either spiritually or practically.

Babs said...

Thanks Droelma for all your suggestions. I don't know when he died and didn't even know he was sick! So I don't know if the 9 days are over.....I'll check into it all.
Great help!