Monday, December 16, 2013

Bolito: My Emotional Father

I know I've been away for a while and have totally neglected my blogging. I wish I had some fabulous reason why that is. I wish I could tell you that I was in a far away land enjoying some sun and relaxation to the sounds of festive music and locals. The truth, however, is a little harsher.

In a very early November, the most influential and important person in my life fell ill. In a series of events and domino effects over a thirty day period, my grandfather passed away. He lived to be 92.

My grandfather was one of those people that danced to the beat of his own drum. He had the most bizarre humor and, often times, I was the only person to get his jokes. He was so funny and quirky and so incredibly clever. He really was so smart. And he was never afraid to express his desires. He always told me "If you don't ask, you'll never know." Like just a few months ago when I wanted to learn how to make his special beef birria (a traditional Mexican stew), he insisted in making 40 pounds, so we went to the store and ordered 40 pounds, then he told me to ask the butcher if we could get a discount. I said "Grandpa they can't give us a discount here, it's a chain store!" And he just looked at me with a "bless your heart" look and asked the butcher himself if he could get a discount. The butcher giggled nervously and said "well, since you're buying so much of it, I guess I can discount twenty five cents per pound." HA! I just looked at my grandfather in disbelief. Here I am, at the meat section of the market getting schooled by a ninety-two year old man. Why am I not surprised.

Grandpa loved food and he loved eating out. He took every trip to the Dr. as an opportunity to do just that. And he liked mixing weird foods together. Like salad with vanilla pudding. It's actually not bad! He was obsessive too, once he got something on his mind he wouldn't let it go. Like when he swore off pork because the thought it might kill him. Or like the four years straight when all he wanted to eat was Sizzler's. Or the four years after that, when all he wanted to eat was China Olive Buffet. Or the time he wanted to start eating healthy so he'd have me drive them to the hospital for lunch, even when he wasn't a patient lol.

To say that I loved my grandfather is an understatement. He was my obsession. My grandfather was my emotional father. His wisdom, lessons and advice have lit my way all my life. We had a bond since the day I was born. He was the kind of person that didn't blow smoke. He didn't sugar coat anything. And yet he had a way with words, at least with me. Grandpa, or Bolito, as I called him, was the only person who could get through to me. Even when he was scolding me I could feel the purity of his love for me. He never had to hurt me or hit me to get his point across, yet I learned so much from him. My respect for him was so great, that often times people tried to use him to manipulate me, because they knew I would never question Grandpa. Much to their surprise, however, he also taught me how to smell bull from a mile away.

He was the only person who genuinely made me feel important. He took real interest in me. He always asked me about work and how much money I made. He always said "make sure you're not getting ripped off" lol. He was the only person to ever worry about whether  I had enough to eat or gas in my car. And after I got married, I enjoyed watching him grill my husband about his job and when he planned to buy me a house lol! Get him Grandpa! My grandfather always taught me the importance of making my own money and taking care of myself, but he was a father first, and what father doesn't worry about his kid?  He was an old fashioned guy in some ways, but ahead of his time in others. He taught me to be a strong, independent woman. He taught me to have a noble heart. To love. To hustle. To give. He embraced me as I am, flaws and all. He knew my heart, my character, my personality. He knew I was strong willed, stubborn, hard-headed, hot-tempered and rough around the edges. And he never once tried to change me. He only tried to mold me. He never cared what other people thought, or what he would look like if this or that. He just did and said what was in his heart and I am so proud to have been emotionally raised by such a man.

I believe who I am as an artist is directly linked to the sentiments that dwell within me. Who I am as a woman, my identity, my roots, the struggles, the victories, the lessons. They all compile together to make me me.  I can't offer my art without offering myself. My grandfather was and is a huge part of who I am as a whole, and his influence on my business and art are undeniable.

***Thank you, Bolito, for never giving up on me. For seeing something in me worth loving unconditionally: the good, the bad and the ugly. I am honored to have walked beside you for almost thirty years. I am a better person because of you. Thank you for an extraordinary life. I love you forever. ***

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