|Photo by Flickr user Caitlinator|
My Grandmother passed away on Monday after a long battle with lung cancer. She had quit smoking almost 30 years ago, shortly after I was born, but it still got her in the end. She was a fighter and the kindest, most wonderful person you could ever know. In her middle age she dead ringer for Sophia Loren.
Originally from Chihuahua Mexico, she taught me many things, among them the art of tamale making. I will always have tamales on Christmas over ham or turkey if I have my way. The key to great albondigas is fresh herbs (one bay leaf the length of your ring finger) and that a good chile relleno can be made in the oven instead of frying it when you are worried about getting fatter.
My biggest regret in life is not learning Spanish from her as a kid. We would visit her and my grandfather in Alpine, California for a week or two every Summer. She thought it would be a great idea to only speak to us in Spanish during that time so that we would learn. I was a dumb, stubborn kid and refused to participate. Like I said, biggest regret.
My Grandma Morayma was an animal lover and passed that on to me. Well, she was never too excited about me bringing home lizards and snakes, especially snakes. In fact she hated snakes, but other animals were her love. She always had a chihuahua or two ... or four. But her true love was for roosters and hens. She never met a rooster she didn't love. I know she always cooked too much rice or corn at dinner so that she "had" to feed the leftovers to the chickens. Christmas always meant some new rooster themed gift. I know other people who like something and get that thing as a gift all the time to the point that they are sick of one more pig statue, but not my grandma. She never tired of chickens or roosters. When she got really sick, I know one of the hardest things she had to do was give up her chickens.
Every time I see a rooster or hear it's call I will think of you Abuela. I love you.