mi madrina
01.13.04 // 5:50 p.m.

My Madrina Bertha passed away last night, at her home in El Sereno with her daughters, husband and other family members at her side. She died after battling cancer for a few years. My parents had been keeping me updated about her condition, they knew death was imminent… it was all just a matter of time.

I heard the news first from my Dad. I was working on grad school stuff (Columbia is now in…) and writing about Grandma’s death exactly 4 years earlier. I didn’t have my phone on. When I finally did turn it on around 11, I found the message from my Dad. He called about 9:15. It was another one of those messages. He told me some good news first, sort of to ease the transition. Then he passed on the bad news and I was certain that he was talking about death. I even knew that he was going to say her name before he even mentioned it. I don’t want to call it a premonition, it’s just a sense. I’ve heard that voice enough times to know when the news is about death.

I called my parents afterward and they didn’t answer, but I got to speak to my Dad this morning. He told me that she died peacefully and that on Thursday when they visited she was still coherent enough to recognize them.

I’ve known my Madrina and her family my whole life. In third grade, I asked her and her husband, José – whom everyone called Chaparro – to be my godparents for my First Holy Communion. My parents knew the family since their days as members of the youth group at Assumption church in East LA. In fact, most of the people my parents spent time with as kids who were not related to us came from this youth group. They called themselves Los Marcianos. We’d go to dozens of birthday parties, bautizos, and quinceañeras where all the Marcianos got back together. We even went camping together many times at the Kern River near the Mojave Desert.

It was always good times with her and her family. Every time we got together, there were always lots of jokes, stories, laughing, singing, and good food.

I’ll keep a lot of good memories with me.

Gracias por todo, Madrina. Espero que descanses en paz.

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