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Monday, 23 April 2012


By Lia Hirtz

My great aunt Adelaida was my grandmother’s sister. She had left her hometown in Mexico and moved to Pittsburgh in her mid-20s due to a disgraceful relationship she had with the town’s comandante, Don Cervantez.

No one in town ever considered her the victim when at 16, as she walked home from school, a powerful and rich man mounted on a black stallion swept her off her feet at gunpoint.

The town murmured that she must have done something fiendish to have caused this otherwise levelheaded man to lose control. They said she was a skinny girl from meager means who probably used black magic to entice the powerful comandante.

A beaten Adelaida birthed two children from Don Cervantez. Under his mother’s watchful eye, Adelaida existed in a house that was her prison. The children were raised by his rotund mother who kept Adelaida away from the only joy she could have experienced.

One day, seizing a rare opportunity, Adelaida fled. Under the cloak of night, slight and swift like a sparrow, she took whatever she could carry including some of Don Cervantez’s gold coins and escaped.

Without the slightest idea of where she was going, she journeyed to a foreign country and made Pittsburgh her new home. She lived in isolation and for many reasons her life was one of bitterness and wrath.

It had been decades since Adelaida had last seen or spoken to my grandmother. When she contacted my father and asked if she could come with us to visit our home town in Mexico, my father was very pleased to say yes. She informed him that she had suffered a stroke, my father said.

At seven years old, I had no idea what a stroke meant but when I saw that half of her body was not moving, the sight of her Picassean appearance deeply frightened my soul.

My aunt was a proud woman with a sour temper. She carried a walking stick that she used to poke me when I was within reach. She said I was an unpleasant child and not very pretty. I thought she wasn’t very pretty either; she was flat out ugly in my opinion, but she fascinated me.

I could not understand why she would not will herself off of the wheelchair and walk or why she would not use both sides of her mouth when speaking.

When she fell asleep in her chair, I would sit at a safe distance and watch in amazement how one side of her mouth snored while the other lay limp as silvery strings of saliva slipped through the half open gap. Her lips were thin and ashen and there was always some sort of food particle around the unmoving side.

The day of our departure, to my horror, my father regally placed Adelaida in the back seat as my companion. The first two days were uneventful except for the occasional jab from her stick.

On the third day, speeding down a two lane road with the temperature at just above 100F, my father, excited at the proximity of his destination, cheerfully stopped to buy us fruit from a roadside stand. My aunt, like a child, demanded an entire watermelon for herself.

Against my mother’s advice, she quickly devoured the entire juicy treat. Within minutes, she complained of a severe stomach ache. Unable to find a nearby town, my father did not stop for miles to take her to a bathroom.

Adelaida began to protest and curse at a few flies that had gathered to feast on the sweet watermelon juice she had spilled all over herself. Then a gurgling sound followed by an acrid smell assaulted my unsuspecting nose with a mighty force!

The stench became unbearable and the flies multiplied and zoomed around her in a frenzied delight of watermelon sugar and vaporous odors coming from her soiled bottom.

”I had an accident of enormous proportions!” she furiously screamed.

The accident was so rancid that my mother, having no other weapon against it, stuck alcohol dipped cotton balls up our noses to mitigate the smell. We travelled, solemn and rigid through the Chihuahua desert, looking like embalmed corpses.

Poor Aunt Adelaida, proud and defiant, she was dragged from the car by my father. Her skirt was yellow with accident and her grimacing lips red and sticky.

A gas station attendant brought a chair and in the middle of a dirt patch, in the scorching heat just beyond the Chihuahua desert, my father unceremoniously hosed her down like a zoo animal until he rid her of all her accident and pride.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Lia - Ouch! I could feel the pokes of your aunt's cane!

As for the smell and sight of her gluttonous comeuppance, Yuck!

Nicely written. - Sandy

Y*our language is vivid and evocative. What a fantastic storyteller you are, Lia.

Lia, You are a *wonderful* writer! Please keep sharing your stories with us.

Wow, your story woke me right up..great writing, scene setting, poor you and your aunt..La Familia, what would we be without them....Write more...

Oh how your comments make me happy! Thank you! Lia

What a fascinating story! You have such a memory for details. Excellent work. Love to read you writing.

Pacassean appearance, hosed down like a zoo animal... Wonderful detail and imagery. Great writing, I really enjoyed this.

You took me from sad to sour to laughter friend!! We'll done

Well done!!! Jajaja

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