Alejandro Lopez and Los Frijoles

Alejandro Lopez (Grampy)

My grandfather passed away this morning.  He lived in south Texas, about 10 minutes from Mexico.  English was his second language.  He fought in World War II and was married for over 65 years.  He was probably in his mid 90s. He was a good man.  No, he was a great man, and a capable man.  A real product of his time.

Stories about him seem to be slowly bubbling up to the surface of my consciousness as the day goes on.  It’s funny the stories that you remember about a person. Sometimes it’s a big story and event, but, not always.  Often it seems like it’s the stories that are the most undeniably ordinary that I carry around…they’re the ones that keep replaying throughout the day, and that have somehow become a part of me.  There’s probably something profound about that – about the fact that after we’ve lived our lives it won’t be the achievements and trophies we’re remembered for, but the ordinary.  The way someone always ordered the same thing from the Whataburger menu, the way someone always wore the same black socks pulled all the way up to their calves, even if they were wearing shorts in mid-July – but it has been too long of a day to try and figure out exactly what it is that makes it profound.

I plan on posting stories for the next few days as they come to me…I realize they may not be particularly meaningful to anyone else, but, it means a great deal to be able to share something so close to my heart.

Here’s the story that has been replaying in my mind all day:

Alejandro Lopez and Los Frijoles

I was probably in middle school and my grandparents were in town for a visit.  They didn’t come to stay with us too often, but when they did they would always stay in the guest bedroom in the front of the hall.  I had to walk past their room each night to mine, and, in the hot Texas summer evening, it was common to leave our bedroom doors cracked about a foot to try and keep any cool air circulating through the house.  My grandparents had gone to be one night, and the house was dark and still.   It was the kind of deep quiet that makes you tip-toe through your own house, or turn the tv down low even though no one can hear it.  Anyway, I’m tip-toeing to my room to go to sleep, being as cautious as I can not to disturb the sacredness of the silence, and just as I pass their room, I hear this MASSIVE fart from inside their room.  I froze in place. I didn’t know what to do!  I’d never heard either one of them let even the smallest amount of flatulence fly…I didn’t know a human was capable of producing something that loud, let alone my grandparents!  And then, from out of the darkness of the guest bedroom I hear my grandmother start laughing.  “Aye, Mr Lopez!  Los Frijoles!”.  Then he chuckled, “Si, si”.  Then, quiet again.  I crept past their room to my bed.

Even then I knew that I had witnessed something special.  A kind of tenderness and familiarity that comes from years of life and love shared together.  The total acceptance of a partner – flaws and flatulence and all.


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