Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Birthday

Tomorrow would have been my Mother-in-law  Patty's 96th birthday, she was born in 1913.  I was a very lucky wife because I had the very best Mother-in -law in the world.  She died in 1989 and I still miss her.  She was always full of life and and laughter, a joy to be around, always making something or cooking something.
Patty's family emigrated from Spain in the early 1900's, moving first to Hawaii where they paid off the cost of their trip by working for C & H Sugar in the cane fields.  Her mother Maria hated the Islands with their half-naked women and as soon as they could they moved on to California where they followed the crops picking whatever was in season.  Patty was born in Fresno and was named Pazquela after a family friend, but she and her siblings loved being Americans and Anglicized their names as quickly as they could----Dolores became Dotty, Pazquela became Patty, Consuela became Connie, Feliciano became Phil and Modesto became Mac.
Patty married Mac's father Rafael during the Depression, and though times were tough they began to prosper because  she was such a good money manager.  They worked regular jobs instead of picking crops, paid cash for a house, sold it bought a better one and continued their assent into the middle-class.
She was always so good to me, coming to visit when we were far from home, to Germany several times, to Texas, to Colorado, to Georgia, when my own mother only visited us twice in all the years.  She came and cooked for us and taught me Spanish recipes, sewed for our daughter, did my ironing which I hated to do--sometimes April would outgrow her clothes before they came out of the ironing, told me stories of her growing up, and Mac as a little boy.
I cried when she died, it was worse than when my own Mother died.  When I start cooking at Christmas time I always think of her and how she could make a meal out of the empty pantry, she was a wonder.
She was easy to buy presents for because she loved everything.  And when she traveled there were no strangers for she talked to everyone and made new friends.
So this Christmas, like every Christmas, I miss her and wish she were here so we could tell her we love her.

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