Tía Ofelia, descanse en paz (rest in peace)
A while ago, I wondered what it was like for my father to grow up stateside while all his extended family was in Guanajuato. I felt like my father had been cheated of the relationships with his cousins, aunts and uncles I had thanks to proximity. I teared up thinking about how lonely it must have been for his parents and siblings without the support of their extended family nearby.
Despite this, my father is actually quite close to his cousins. You wouldn’t know that they didn’t grow up in the same town or ranch if you saw them interact. Well, my dad would stick out. He doesn’t look like he knows the first thing about driving a tracker or managing a ranch. But the resemblance between him and his cousins is uncanny.
In 2004, I took some time to get back to my roots in Mexico. As I prepared for my first trip in a dozen years, my parents were jealous. They told me I’d be treated like a rockstar. And I was, even if I was the only kid from the LA side of the family to visit. Everyone wanted to see me, take me to see the sites, made sure I ate well and overall I enjoyed my trip. A few of the kids started calling me Cindylandia. I loved it and in a short time developed a connection to people I was meeting for the first time as an adult — I didn’t remember much from my trips as a kid, and nothing from the trips as a baby.
One of those people was tía Ofelia, who lived on the ranch just outside of Salamanca. She was always much quieter than her many brothers (nine in total!), but she was kind and inviting. When we last visited in 2007, she accompanied another uncle, Max, and my parents on a short road trip to Morelia. We spent the day there with my great aunt and her children and grandchildren.
I knew tía Ofelia was gravely ill, but was still surprised to learn of her passing (via Facebook, oddly enough). My dad got a call from nephews in Houston.
Rest in peace, tía Ofelia.