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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rita on the Rocks. No Salt.

My grandma was born in 1922. Her parents named her Rita. I told her once that every time I took an order for a Margarita, I wrote her name down on my pad because that was the abbreviation. She thought that was the funniest thing. "Yeah," I told her. "Sometimes I write down your name ten or eleven times in one day." She loved that story. My Mamo is one cool lady. I never knew her to have a job but I know that she did have her own dress shop sometime in the 50's. There is a picture of her leaning against the sign. She's gorgeous in it. Her hair is dark and wavy and she is shielding her eyes from the sun. The sign simply says "Rita's Dress Shop." I always thought it was so cool that she had a store. I always wanted to know more about it but of all the times I talked to her, that was one of the things that never came up. Mamo Rita died yesterday and my chance to hear about her dress shop went with her.

I have a lot of food memories with Mamo. Her and my Papo used to take me and my brothers to Kips Big Boy every time we went to see them. It's funny that I don't remember what I ever ate, but I remember how excited we were to go there. When we would get out of the car the first thing we would do would be to run over to the Kips Big Boy Statue that was in front of the restaurant. We always had our picture taken in front of it and damned if I know where one single copy of any of those pictures are now. When I was at her house, it was like my own little Mexican restaurant. She would custom make whatever I wanted and I always wanted the same thing: tortillas. I would sit in the kitchen and marvel at how quickly she could make them from scratch. She would roll them out into a perfect circle and throw them on the skillet. She never used tongs to flip them; just her hands. She would reach into the pan and grab the edge of the tortilla and flip it and when it was done take it again and toss it onto a plate covered with a used piece of aluminum foil that she had pulled from her drawer. Sometimes she would make refried beans for them or a scrambled egg or maybe I would just eat them with butter and sugar. "Aye, mijo, how can you eat so many tortillas?" she would wonder. I could eat as many as she could make. "Aye, mijo, you put too much salt on your eggs, your blood pressure is going to go up. No salt. No salt." I loved salt and I would add more to my eggs just because it was funny to see her get so exasperated over a few sprinkles. She tried to teach me how to make them once when I was about 19. Of course she didn't have any measurements so it was all "about this much" and "about that much" and when I tried to make them on my own, they were a colossal failure. I couldn't even get them to be round. It's sad to think of all the things that we lose when someone dies. We don't just lose the person, but we lose the future with them too. No more tortillas in Mamo's kitchen when I go to Texas. When I ate the last one over 12 moths ago, did I relish it enough? I doubt it.

Another food memory I have with Mamo is how she always had ice cream sandwiches in her freezer. When I would stay with her, I would love to swim in the pool of her apartment complex and then come into the air conditioning and watch cartoons while laying on a towel in the living room. And eating ice cream sandwiches. "Can I have another one, Mamo?" "If you want another one you go right ahead," she'd say. "But aren't you cold? How can you be all wet and eat ice cream?" I'd run to the freezer and grab another and plop down on my stomach and rest my head on my elbows. "Aye, mijo, don't eat like that. You can't digest your food if you're on your belly. Rollover." I'd roll my eyes. And then roll over.

I'm sad that she's gone. But grateful that she had 88 years here. Someone I know is dealing with the immanent loss of her six year old grandson who is sick. My loss is sad, but her loss is tragic. It really keeps it in perspective. 88 years of a good life. A long happy marriage, kids, grand kids, travel and for years she got a new car every year because my Grandpa treated her like a Queen. No one loved Mamo more than Papo did. I am left with memories. The next few days will be sad, as I travel to Texas for her funeral. But when I pass Dairy Treet, I will probably stop and get a burger in her honor since it was her favorite. And every time I went home, I'd stop there and pick up two of them and go to her place and we would have lunch together. Hell, maybe I will still get two and just eat them both.

Is your grandma still alive? Call her. Tell her hello. Ask her a question that only she will have the answer to. I talked to Mamo Rita all the time. I could tell her anything at all and she would tell me things too. I didn't want to hear about her sex life after my Papo died, but she told me anyway. We would talk about Survivor and American Idol and the weather. Every new year's eve I would call her at midnight because she loved that moment of time when we all look to the future filled with hope. I didn't get to do it last December 31st because she was too sick. I will miss talking to her. And why is it now, one day too late, that I think of all the things I want to ask her? What was your wedding like? What was it like to live through the Great Depression? Why did you always name your Chihuahuas "Peanut?" But if I had one more question to ask it would be this one: can you please tell me anything and everything about Rita's Dress Shop? I really wanna know.

I will be away for a few days. I will try to post but maybe a break is order. Thanks.

Love,
The Bitchy Waiter







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53 comments:

Name:was Female, I shit you not! said...

Sorry for your loss.
Take care.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely tribute to your Mamo. I am so sorry for your loss.

Wendy said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Bitchy. Please know that i am thinking of you.
I'm glad you have so many happy memories of her. She'll live on (in a way) as long as *you* live.

I really miss my Grandmama, and she's been gone for over 15 years now...

Safe travels!
=-)

Practical Parsimony said...

So sorry for your loss of your Mamo. I lost grandmothers when I was 16 and 18, and still miss one of them terribly. My parents are dead, so I understand how you cannot ask any more questions. Now, you know to talk and question your parents. One of them might be able to tell you about the dress shop. Besides, your grandmother might have someone in her generation still alive to give you a bit more information. Stay safe. I will miss your posts.

ChiTown Girl said...

Oh, Sugar, I'm so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. You and your family will be in my prayers.

And So She Said... said...

...I'm so sorry.

AGL said...

I will have a salty Rita after my bartending shift in honor of your grandmother and mine. Cheers! May we wish for a day to hear the answers to all of the questions that were never asked soon enough.

Jamesrfitz said...

Deep condolences to you and your family. I have no doubt that just as she was the face of love to you growing up, you were the face of love to her. Whether or not you believe in God and/or the hereafter, knowing that the love between you made a very real difference to you both and thereby to countless others, means that her goodness lives on, as will yours. May these days be a joyous celebration of a life well lived as well as a channel for your grief.

jes said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm really close with my grandmother, too. You've inspired me/reminded me that I need to return my gram's call from a couple of days ago. I'm going to ask her all about her wedding. Thanks, BW.

Adam Salverson said...

:( I'm so sorry for your loss. I called my Grandma as soon as I finished reading the post.

imajeepguy said...

What a beautiful tribute. I'm sure your grandmother would be extremely proud if she could read that.

Two suggestions though, when you stop for the burgers, don't eat the second one, give it to one of her other grandchildren. It's what she would have wanted, I have a feeling. And secondly, at the funeral ask about the dress shop. I'm sure someone there will have fond memories and will be able to share them with you and everyone else. If she's as wonderful a lady as you describe that room won't be sad, but will be filled with love for a great woman. Take comfort in that.

sam said...

Sorry for your loss

Mary A. said...

(((HUGS))) Grammas are Awesome! Mine are in Heaven too. And that's where they belong.

Have a wonderful time with your family. Enjoy the memories. Go ahead & cry. And laugh, and cry some more.

She's bragging about you in heaven right now!

Ester Jean said...

My grams is in the hospital right now to get a pacemaker. My brother and I are trying to get together enough money to buy her house and property so she can move to a smaller place, which is what she wants. This is a beautiful tribute. I saw your Big Boy photo on FB and immediately thought about the photos my grandma took of me when she would take me there for my birthday lunch every year, but that's not what I wrote in my comment.

Have a safe trip. Ask someone else who is there about the dress shop. They won't know everything she did, but might be able to share some memories with you.

My thoughts are with you today, love!

malissataylor said...

We wish you much love... Your beloved is holding your hand always!

The Empress said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute to your mamo. She sounds like she was an amazing woman who lived a full and vibrant life. And I'm sure she is smiling down on you now. Much love!

Lindsey said...

I'm so very sorry for the loss of your Mamo. You have written a beautiful tribute to her. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family the next few days.

Eden said...

Hugs to you.

Athena said...

That's a lovely post. Sorry for your loss. I lost my own grandparents a few years ago, and I also realised later on I could have asked them so many things about their lives when they were young, but never thought to ask. I guess that's how it is when a loved one dies. But lovely to hear she had such a long and happy life; you'll always have great memories of her.

Bagel Fairy said...

Aww, Bitchy. It's hard losing grandparents, for sure. Eat an ice cream sandwich and feel better.

digressions said...

What a beautifully written post...I'm sure Mamo would be very proud! My deepest condolences to you and your family.

Shay International said...

...awwww, hon, you have my deepest and sincerest condolences. i know what it is like to lose a grandma. i lost both of mine (Della in 2008 and Sarah in 2009). have a safe trip, a good cry, and one big ass margarita! take care, Bitchy. you and your family are in all our prayers.

The Restaurant Manager said...

Thanks for sharing those memories. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your Mamo. I lost my grandma my senior year of high school right before graduation. Every time I eat Oreos I always think of her because she had a cookie jar in her kitchen. Are you coming to H-town?? The weather is perfect right now in Texas.

badbadwebbis said...

I am so sorry about your grandmother. And you can apply that advice about talking to your grandmother to your parents - I lost both of mine, and I'm constantly thinking of things I want to ask them, and I can never do that now. Both of them died of cancer, but we only had 3 months with my dad and we pretended he wasn't going to die, so we never talked about the important stuff. With my mom we had almost 4 years between diagnosis and her death, so we asked about family, and her life, and their lives, and anything we knew we would want to know. We decided to fuck worrying about whether asking about the things we might never know otherwise might make it seem like she was about to die - ask!

Celebrate your grandmother's memory, and it's nice that you can remember her daily with your job.

Doug and Mary Ann said...

I'm sorry for your loss, BW. Sending hugs and love your way.

CarrieAnn said...

So sorry, Bitchy. Great post. Mamo would be so proud of it. :)

Robin said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I am holding your hand in spirit.

Take care, Dear. Robin

Vanessa said...

So sorry for your loss. I know what you mean about the questions. My mother passed away 4 years ago this month and I often think of things I wish I had asked. Continue to cherish your memories.

gabriellemimi said...

What a beautiful memorial. Your words have brought your grandmother to life for all your many readers.

I am so sorry for your loss and so touched by how gracious you are in your acceptance of the cycle of life.

Your grandmother was very fortunate to have such a wonderful grandson.

Miss_Hannigan said...

You have our sympathy, BW. Be glad you enjoyed so many days with her.

Maggie P. said...

lovely rita

<3 to your family

watergirl said...

My mom told me when I was much younger that we are given those we love, be they family, friends or pets, for only a short while but that we'll see them again, in one form or another.

I hope someone you'll see soon has both a picture of you and the Big Boy as well as knowledge of her dress shop.

:huggles:
~watergirl~

carmar76 said...

*HUGS* safe journey and time with your family. i'm sorry!

Becky said...

I'm so sorry for your loss....that was very moving. I'm going to hug my grandparents extra tight tomorrow. And ask them a few things I'd been "meaning to" for years:)

SkippyMom said...

Oh, BW I am so sorry. She sounds like such a fabulous woman who obviously doted on you. [As grandma's should :)]

We try to go every Sunday [some mix of our family] to visit my husband's Grandma - and by extension mine too [I am so lucky]. She is 99 and just like your Mamo - so wonderful.

This is a beautiful post. No wonder she is so proud of you.

Safe trip. ::hugs::

Ela said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I guess the most important thing is knowing that you had lots of pleasant memories with her.

DD said...

I am very sorry for your loss. I would like to see her picture though. Rest in peace, Mamo. Hugs, Bitchy.

Anonymous said...

Both my Matu and my Nanaw are long gone, but I remember them both well. This was a beautiful tribute to your Mamo. I hope your pain is made less sharp by all these memories of love.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty emotional but still the feeling in this post made me tear up. I have one grandmother alive but I never see her, my other one died of cancer when I was a child. She wasn't even 40 yet. I am happy your grandma lived a long full life and passed without pain (?). Much love to you!!

Chunky Mama said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I lost my favorite Grandma back in '98, and I still think about her every day.

FuschiaLime said...

So sorry for your loss, what you wrote really touched me. She will now live forever in your heart and stories, thank you for always telling them so well!

Anthony Kimber said...

Great story about your Grams. They are priceless: I'm really sorry for your loss. Hope you had a good trip, and got some closure. My thoughts are with you, dude. Anthony.

The Mini - Maker said...

I'm sorry for your loss. Sending love and prayers your way.

Maps310 said...

Condolences on your loss. Its with much sympathy that i hope you see the bright side, which is where you grandma is.

Felicia said...

It's been just over 3 weeks since I lost my mother and my heart pounds out of my chest as my head swarms with questions. Thank you for the second sweet story I've read by you in the last week. My condolences to you and all of your family.

DSS said...

Your Mamo sounds amazing :) I never had the priviledge of knowing my granparents. They were gone before I was born. Thanks for sharing your memories of such a fabulous woman!

Tonya said...

Heart breaking.

Maria said...

I think your Mamo would have loved this post.

I'm going to call my Grams.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss Bitchy. A really touching post.

KPjaveliner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dee said...

I'm reading this one now because it was linked in your blog post today.

You seem to have the same fondness for your grandma that I did for mine. And you are right - our elders have much to teach us, if we take the time to listen to the lesson.

Dee

Anonymous said...

Just read this. My grandmothers are still alive, but one of my grandfathers died on Valentine's Day, 8 years ago. It doesn't make that holiday easy, knowing that the anniversary of their death comes up with it. My deepest, deepest condolences to you and your family, a year and a half later. I don't know what I'll do when my 87-year-old grandmother passes away, other than crawl into a hole for a while. Luckily I expect her to last at least another decade (by which I mean I will not expect any other outcome).

Also, you made me cry twice, you big jerk. Well done. But I hope that reading this comment so long after the post made you remember at least one happy time with your Mamo.