Growing old



Mama Sofia in front of her home.

Over the holidays, we were able to visit with Mama Sofia, my husband’s grandmother, and her husband, Tio Felipe. Mama Sofia holds a special place in my husband’s heart. When he was homeless at the age of 12, she took him in. The two times he was deported with nowhere else to go, she opened her home to him. How could he not love her? How could we not love her?

We try to get to Cerano every month or so, but sometimes daily life gets in the way and we aren’t able to visit as much as we would like.


Mama Sofia with 2 of her 4 children, Pepe and Caro.

We were delighted to see that Mama Sofia’s daughter, Caro, was also visiting from Zamora. She’s quite a lively lady, gets it from her mother I expect. The first time I met Mama Sofia, she was just arriving home with a 10 pound sack of planting soil slung over her shoulder. When my husband tried to take it from her, she got angry.

This time, we were sad to see the decline in Mama Sofia as old age takes its due. She is 97 (or 95 or 92 no one is quite sure least of all Mama Sofia herself) or so and life is hard after all.

Mama Sofia is not able to get around to do her shopping, attend mass, or visit with friends, most of who have long since died anyway. Her balance is precarious and she often falls and injures herself in her own home. Her great-grandniece looks in on her daily and brings her the tortillas that Mama Sofia can no longer make. Vendors know to stop by with geletina, gorditas or tacos de canasta. There is a little bitty market right across the street and the owner brings over cooking oil, rice, tuna and pasta. The priest walks over from the church after Sunday mass to give Mama Sofia communion. All these activities keep her mind from stagnating, but there are hours and hours of daylight left to occupy.

Mama Sofia is still able to straighten her rooms, make the beds, sweep the floors and heat some soup.  Her plants are lovely.  The fruit trees provide guayabas, granadas, limones and nisperos.  She doesn’t haul planting dirt anymore, nor does Tio Felipe plant corn.

Both Tio Felipe and Mama Sofia receive a dispensa (government welfare) box every few months for the tercer edad (senior citizen). It has cooking oil, rice, beans, pasta and soap. Picking it up, however, requires a trip to Yuriria, which is nearly too much for Mama Sofia these days. Doctor visits are also pretty much out of the question. The walk to the newly built clinic is long and full of uneven ground. The wait to see a doctor is interminable. When Mama Sofia is ill, the ladies of the family in Cerano take turns caring for her until it passes. Sometimes Caro is able to come and stay awhile. Sometimes she can’t. Life is hard in Zamora too.


Toasting peanuts on the comal.

The day of our visit was mild and we sat outside with Mama Sofia on the cemented step. She didn’t say much, just enjoyed the pleasure of having company. Tio Felipe made himself useful and toasted peanuts on the comal. My husband went and bought some chicken and we had a veritable feast.

Too soon, we had to say our goodbyes. The animals need attending to. The roads aren’t safe to drive after dark. There are things that need to be done before we retire for the night. We left, knowing that the days we will be able to visit with Mama Sofia are numbered and promise ourselves that next week, or the week after, we’ll make the time to visit again.




Filed under Cultural Challenges, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms

7 responses to “Growing old

  1. What a sweet woman. I have been looking my own aging in the eye and I am turning 64 next week! My grandmother lived to 94. Being at peace with the body’s decline is a challenge. I am so grateful for the life I’ve gotten to lead. Blessings on you all.

    Liked by 1 person

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