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Unsung Heroes (excerpt) -- Part II: Remedios (standard:poetry, 1510 words) [2/2] show all parts
Author: Victor D. LopezAdded: Jun 18 2013Views/Reads: 1041/750Part vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
This second excerpt from my longest free verse poem concerns my maternal grandmother's struggle to keep her family together through unimaginable tragedy in post Civil War Spain and beyond.
 



Remedios (Maternal Grandmother) 

Your husband died at 40, leaving you to raise nine children alone. But
not before your eldest, hardest working son, Juan, had Drowned at sea 
in his late teens while working as a fisherman to help You and your 
husband put food on the table. 

You lost a daughter, too, Toñita, also in her early teens, to illness.
Their kind, pure souls found Their way back home much too soon. 

Later in life you would lose two more sons to tragedy, Paco (Francisco),
An honest, hard working man whose purposeful penchant for shocking 
Language belied a most gentle nature and a generous heart. He was 
electrocuted By a faulty portable light while working around his pool. 

And the apple of your eye, Sito (José), your last born and most loving
son, who Had inherited his father's exceptional looks, social 
conscience, left of center Politics, imposing presence, silver tongue, 
and bad, bad luck, died, falling Under the wheels of a moving train, 
perhaps accidentally. 

In a time of hopelessness and poverty, you would not be broken. You rose
every day hours before the dawn to sell fish at a stand. And every 
afternoon you placed a huge wicker basket on your head and Walked many, 
many miles to sell even more fish in other towns. 

Money was tight, so you often took bartered goods in Exchange for your
fish, giving some to those most in need, Who could trade nothing in 
return but their Blessings and their gratitude. 

You walked back home, late at night, through darkness or Moonlit roads,
carrying vegetables, eggs, and perhaps a Rabbit or chicken in a large 
wicker basket on your strong head, Walking straight, on varicose-veined 
legs, driven on by a sense of purpose. 

During the worst famine during and after the Civil War, the chimney of
your Rented home overlooking the Port of Fontan, spewed forth black 
smoke every Day. Your hearth fire burned to feed not just your 
children, but also your less Fortunate neighbors, nourishing their 
bodies and their need for hope. 

You were criticized by some when the worst had passed, after the war.
“Why work so hard, Remedios, and allow your young children to go to 
work At too young an age? You sacrifice them and yourself for stupid 
pride when Franco and foreign food aid provide free meals for the 
needy.” 

“My children will never live off charity as long as my back is strong”
was your Reply. You resented your husband for putting politics above 
family and Dragging you and your two daughters, from your safe, 
comfortable home at Number 10 Perry Street near the Village to a 
Galicia without hope. 

He chose to tilt at windmills, to the eternal glory of other foolish
men, And left you to fight the real, inglorious daily battle for 
survival alone. Struggling with a bad heart, he worked diligently to 
promote a better, more just Future while largely ignoring the practical 
reality of your painful present. 

He filled you with children and built himself the cross upon which he
was Crucified, one word at a time, leaving you to pick up the pieces of 
his shattered Idealism. But you survived, and thrived, without 
sacrificing your own strong Principles or allowing your children to 
know hardships other than those of honest work. 

And you never lost your sense of humor. You never took anything or
Anyone too seriously. When faced with the absurdity of life, You chose 
to smile or laugh out loud. I saw you shed many tears of laughter, But 
not once tears of pain, sorrow or regret. You would never be a victim. 

You loved people. Yours was an irreverent sense of humor, full of gentle
irony, And wisdom. You loved to laugh at yourself and at others, 
especially pompous Fools who often missed your great amusement at their 
expense, failing to grasp Your dismissal, delivered always with a 
smile, a gentle voice and sparkling eyes. 


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