A recipe of love: Fond memories of tias and tortillas

May 2013 Posted in Columnists & Opinion, People
Wyatt Rodriguez

Wyatt Rodriguez

By Wyatt Rodriguez

My older brother Austin and I each had our own dough roller to use when we made tortillas with our “tias.”

First, we put the flour, water, lard and other authentic Mexican tortilla remedies into the mixer.

That was the easy part.

Rolling the dough was the tough step.

Aunts (“Tias”) Sophie and Kenya made the perfect size, width and diameter of dough to make the perfect tortilla.

I was about eight when Sophie died and 11 or 12 when Aunt Kenya passed away.

Sophie and Eugenia Rodriguez were their real names.

They were my great aunts and they loved Austin and me as if we were their own kids, probably because they never had their own. We filled that space in their hearts. They were sisters who lived together their entire lives.

My first memories of my life are with Sophie and Kenya. I was there every morning, eating breakfast on the bed-made sofa with Austin.

The middle of the purple, 1990s coach folded down to make a table where we ate and watched the worst of the early morning cartoons.

They had very few television channels, and these cartoons were much more bearable than the Spanish soap operas we tolerated. I’m sure I would have gone crazy if it hadn’t it been for my Gameboy.

Austin would leave for kindergarten and I’d be stuck there all day long with my tias making tortillas and helping Aunt Sophie organize her pills in one of those plastic containers that had the first letter of the days of the week stenciled on the front.

Each time I’d get upset or cry, they sprinkled Holy Water on me! They were incredibly religious, down to the plastic, three-foot Jesus statue in the living room.

They tried to make me understand religion, but there were always simply too many questions. Pictures of Jesus hanging on a cross with cuts and that pained look on his face grossed me out more than made me want to bow down and talk to him.

Today, I’d do anything to see Sophie and Kenya again. They loved me more than I could ever ask.

They even gave Austin and me every single thing they had after they passed away, and I seriously mean everything. Cleaning out their double-wide mobile home was difficult. I shed a lot of tears.

I miss hearing, “Oh, mi hijo lindo! Mi amor! Mi amor!  (My cute ‘little son’! My love, my love!)

Sophie died from a second heart attack, probably from all that authentic Mexican food she consumed her entire life! Aunt Kenya grew old, and her body slowed down.

I think of them often, especially during the holidays. I remember how much they taught me. How much they loved my brother and me.

It was a weird experience to see somebody go like that. I’ll never forget them, or how to make those delicious tortillas.

Crazy how something as simple as a tortilla can remind me to love a little more… . Descanse en paz… Rest in peace.

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