Friday, August 22, 2008

She was born before World War I

This is a picture of my Nana Mercy, taken at a party for her last October. She's my great great aunt. I got to visit her last Saturday, with my grandma and brothers. (My grandma is her niece.)

She died this afternoon. She was 97.

Born in a small town in Mexico, Nana Mercy, or Mercedes Garcia, was the oldest girl of about 7 brothers and sisters (her sister Juanita and my grandma couldn't figure out exactly how many because at least one had died young). Their mom had died during the last one's birth, so Nana Mercy took care of the younger ones. When her sister Elodia died, Nana Mercy raised her 2 kids - my Grandma and her younger brother, my Tio Monchi. "We were very close to her," grandma says.

I don't remember her that much from when I was little, but my grandma says she remembers her always making tortillas. "And we all liked her beans."

This week the doctor said her heartbeat was getting weaker. She could barely open her eyes even when she was awake. More relatives flew in or stopped to say goodbye.

Finally today the priest came and performed last rites. Then my Tia Pechi, her daughter, was rubbing Nana Mercy's head. She leaned in close to her and said loudly "Go!"... "We're OK with you leaving. You need to rest."

Then two or three minutes later, she let out a great big and final sigh.

My grandma said she watched the mortuary take her away, and she "was very peaceful. She looked like she was asleep."

Te quiero, Nana.

I just bought a bunch of books

Editor's note: Some readers may notice the absence of any blog entries for the past few months. Fear not. This can be explained by the universal law that says a tree that falls in a forest doesn't make a sound if no one is around to hear it. Since you weren't reading those blog entries, it's as though they never were written in the first place. Trippy, huh?

The books a person reads reveal a lot about them. Maybe I'm afraid to reveal anything about myself, because I'm not a regular book reader. Books or not, whatever I do read tends to be nonfiction - from local newspapers, to international newsmagazines, to public radio (could that be considered mental reading?) to blogs on finance, entrepreneurship, or politics. These media I can consume fairly quickly, which suits my preferred timetable for reading. Books on the other hand, require much more attention span and dedication. There's a commitment of sort - "I will read every word on every page until the conclusion looms, and I will not fear it. I will embrace that final sentence, and the index and epilogue that follow."

In fact, I think that's one of the difficulties I've had with books. See, a news article has an end to it, but I get to that end within minutes of starting. There's not enough time to become attached, to form a bond with that article. But a book...well with a book, by the third chapter you're two feet in. You either see it all the way through, or you have to abandon it midway.

Abandonment. That's the problem with people who have all these books lying around unfinished: You want to leave it before it can leave you. Because you know that by the last chapter of the book it's going to say, "I'm done. Goodbye." And it won't be any consolation to hear, "It's me, not you. My binding can only hold so many pages, and I have nothing left to give you." It's heartbreaking to even think about.
But for all those pages you are so eager to get to the end of the book, you suddenly realize too late, as with so many things in life, that it's not the destination, but the journey. Even when you were turning that first page to begin the journey, there was a certain lingering sadness because you knew that the ride would end much too soon.

But despite my unrequited love affair with books, I've recently been pushing my way through one in particular that I won at a silent fund-raising auction earlier in the year. This book grips me. It causes me to want to do something bold and meaningful. Which is exactly the point - a well-written and well-sourced book can move heart and mind, and herein lies its power. I've recently recognized the need for this type of persuasion in my life. So it has increased my thirst for more books of topics that reach into my heart and tug me forward. It's painful, but undeniable.

All of this leads me to a predicament I'm amount to face in 4-14 days (I ordered the books online). When all these books come piling in at once, how am I ever going to choose???

("OK, Bachelorette No. 1.....")