Sunday afternoon. It's time to relax after a long, hot morning in church. My friend and I hang out at Pollo Campero to eat chicken and french fries and to talk about upcoming plans. My friend says we should go check on his mom. She is a little forgetful and worries about her kids even though they are all becoming grandparents themselves. We arrive at the house, and we sit down in the living room for a little more rest and conversation.
My friend lives with his parents. His dad is in his 80's. He tells long stories, revealing newly remembered details with each telling. His mom is 79. She listens to the long stories and laughs. She tells her stories too. Today, like many days recently, she remembers her son Miguel. He died when he was a baby. They took him to the hospital, and he died. She shows me three framed photos which sit on a little wooden shelf over the sofa. In one photo, the family members are lined up and barely smiling. She and her husband are surrounded by their five adult children. Looking at this photo reminds her again of Miguel. She seems to imagine what he would be like if he were grown up and in the photo. The second photo is very old. One of the men is her uncle. The third photo is a close-up of her husband and me, both of us with big smiles. I am surprised to see this photo so large and in a frame. She gives me a squeeze.
The house is shaped like a big square, with bedrooms along the sides, a little front room and garage by the street, and a bathroom and kitchen at the back. It is very basic and filled with probably 50 years of books, papers, pots. tools and everything that is too good to throw away. The middle is open, so all the rooms look out on one another. The living room is open on one side to the woodworking area of the garage. We sit on a small stuffed sofa and chair. The furniture is covered with white damask slip covers. I have no idea how these stay clean. As we relax, our focus is on the TV. It's a pretty big TV, sitting on a home-made rough wood stand with a cloth over it and with the plug running up across the ceiling to the woodworking shop.
The family was watching a movie when we arrived, and we continue to watch. I recognize the movie, "Wee Willie Winkie" featuring Shirley Temple. Shirley's dubbed Spanish voice is horrendous. The family is engrossed as the little girl soldier hides under the bed during a battle scene. I tell them it is an old film, from sometime like 1940 (actually 1937) and it was filmed in the US. The family has no idea about this. They never heard of Shirley Temple (not too surprising), but I am surprised that they do not realize it is an old movie nor that it is dubbed. I tell them that Shirley grew up to be an ambassador and worked at the United Nations. We watch as a beloved soldier dies and Shirley sings (not dubbed) by his bedside. In the end, Shirley is responsible for peace negotiations and a happy ending. "See Mama," says my friend, "see what a little girl can do." He pats her hand and she smiles.
Well-rested, we have an errand to run. We stop at a house not too far away. We have a little coffee and cookie break. Then my friend moves the stove out of the kitchen and we figure out how to get it into the back of his vehicle. This is part of a triple stove exchange. The stove in the car one is the middle-aged one, which was replaced by a new one, and which will replace an older one. The older stove will go to my friend's house to replace a really old stove. That is a gift for his mom, but she is not too sure about it, so my guess is that the really old stove might hang out in the woodworking shop for a while.
My friend drives me home. The stove is in the back of the car, and the sun is about to set on another Sunday afternoon.