03 February 2010

I Talk To Dead People

Let it be known, I can go for days, talking only to myself. No, I'm not schizophrenic, I just am easily entertained. I ask myself questions, answer questions, make jokes, laugh... I've been told by others its quite the thing to behold. So there you have it, I talk out loud.

As I age and face more complex problems of life (read: parenting), I find myself talking out loud- but no longer to myself. I speak to my Abuela (grandmother). Josefina passed away just over 9 years ago, and she is still just as close to me in death as she was in life. She lived in Uruguay, and I knew her only through a few visits, letters and phone calls. We were as different from each other as possible, right down to the color of our skins. But I always knew that woman loved me without equivocation. I got my "cooking genes" from her- a rich legacy.

Fast forward to present day, and I am in the kitchen cooking gnocchi for my niece. This is when the chatter with Abuela begins. I deliberate over what type of oil to use, and concede (out loud, and in Spanish) that I'm going to go with the more traditional but less healthy vegetable oil. Stirring the tuco (sauce) I comment on the freshness of the garlic, my inability to find the oregano and the indulgence of some wine in the sauce.

A fly on the wall would either be appalled or amused, I'm not sure which. I serve up dinner and comment to Abuela that the sauce wasn't carefully cooked, and surely anyone eating it could taste my frustration at the day, not my usual dose of love. I have a one-sided discussion about how emotions totally transfer through the cooking of food. I imagine she agrees vehemently.

Once my child is in bed & clean up begins, I eye the gnocchi. The tuco just wasn't up to snuff. I don't want to eat the leftovers- they have no love. I head to the sink & rinse the remains down the disposal, apologizing profusely to Abuela for such waste. She would kill me for doing this. She's the woman who cut her paper napkins in half, use one portion and tuck the other portion away for future use. This frugality cracked me up as a kid. Now I tell her how much I agree with the concept, if not her methodology.

While getting ready for bed, I chat briefly with her. Almost my way of saying goodnight. I tell her of my struggles in raising my niece as a single woman, acknowledging the ridiculously difficult life she had in a third-world country. As I remember her tough lot, I am humbled and grateful.

You might laugh at me for this confession, but how usual is this really? Isn't this how our ancestors live on through us? OK, not the quirky "conversation" aspect, but in remembering, in sharing, in continuing traditions, in cooking a recipe? Maybe we all talk to dead people, whether in word or deed.

Who have you spoken to lately? ;)


  1. Honestly, I've never lost someone close enough that I talk to them, but I was just thinking about this very thing this afternoon. The spirit world is all around us. I'm sure our loved ones can/do hear us. You and abuela will have much to laugh and talk about when you get to the other side. But don't go any time soon. ;)

    You do have mad cooking skills, my friend. Mmmmmm....

  2. What an wonderful thing to do to raise your neice ALONE...hats off to ya!!

  3. I couldnt been so grateful to be born to such good parents, very poor but what great teachings and great love they gave me. As Abuela trou her trials she showed me what truly love is, after being divorced from my Father for 39 years she was the one who took care of him and closed his eyes, literally. I will never forget where i came from and even they were divorced, they were the best friends. But you were wright the world is a tile. I missed them but i have a great heritage.