El Cuatro de Julio

My Papi's favorite holiday

By Guadalupe González
Published on LatinoLA: July 4, 2016

El Cuatro de Julio

Today, Mi Gente, I thought today would be "just another Fourth of July." My Mami was in the hospital last week, she's out and feeling better now [i](Gracías a Diosito) and has been hangin' with mis Hermanas, recuperating. Me? Lest you think I am a big floja and watched from the sidelines, I was the nighttime hija for my Mami. It all went well, except that the last night, I fell into a deep sleep and Mamita thought "algo" me habia pasado. Hint: After I woke up, she looked at me like Lazarus, awakened from the dead. (Note, though, she did not press "Code Blue" button for me. Hmmm...)

But, I digress. Yes. Mami cancelled her long-planned "Cuatro de Julio" Desayuno in her backyard. Instead, I have photo proof that Mamita went to a well known Bar-B-Que spot, where she ate traditional fare & celebrated her Hundred Thirty Second Birthday OF THIS YEAR. (Yup. Mami likes free dessert.)

So here I am, home with hot dogs in the fridge, cool dogs at my feet and cerveza in my hand. But, truthfully, there is a gaping spot in my heart. Today was the best day of the year for my immigrant Papito. A man who taught us love of Mexico, our heritage, culture, religion, familia, our Papi taught us love of his adopted home. Respect for the U.S. Traditions that he grew to love. We learned Spanish and English. We learned national anthems. We learned to love the promise of the Estados Unidos, as my Papi and Mami discovered for themselves.

Sometimes, I look at myself and the life I have led, and I am convinced that I am the American Dream. What led my parents to leave family, friends, familiarity and language in another land? My Papito often told mi Querido that, if he had stayed in Mexico, he would have joined revolutionaries, fighting for justice. Instead, he came here and instilled in all six of his surviving children, a love of Justice, truth and, yes, the American way.

My parents put off becoming naturalized citizens. They heard a rumor that, in order to become American citizens, "tendrían que escupir en la bandera Mexicana." There was NO WAY THAT WOULD EVER HAPPEN! No, nunca. Finally, we urged my parents to seek out the truth: They would need to learn about the U.S. and there would be no spitting required. Híjole. What a relief. My parents hit the books, saying "¡Preguntame de la Constitución!" every chance they got.

The day they became U.S. Citizens, my sisters, brother and I took time off and were with them. My Mami wore a corsage. My Papi, a boutonnière. Both carried small American flags and their Rosaries. Such a day for celebration.

This day was the culmination of a love affair my Papi had with his adopted country. All those holidays when his eyes shone as soon as the Fireworks booths went up. He made selections for our holiday festivities carefully, making sure no one could be hurt by sparklers. For the high-powered Smoky Joe's, we looked to the neighbors.
Sandia with juice that ran down our faces was a must. Hamburgers with cilantro were a tradition. At the end of it all, my Papi would say, "Creo que este año, salio todo mejor que nunca." Better than ever.

Today, my family and I are thankful for our Mamita's continued health. We look forward to the celebrations tonight. I know, in our hearts, we will all cherish the memory of Los Cuatro de Julio festivities spent with our Papi. Who taught us so many lessons. Lessons we'll teach los chicos.

As I look into the sky, with the colors and patters and sounds of the Fourth of July, I will see my Papi's eyes, shining in the stars, just beyond.

Feliz Cuatro de Julio, Mi Gente. Happy Fourth of July.

(C) 7/4/16 Guadalupe Gonzalez

About Guadalupe González:
Una Mujer Latina
Hija de Mis Padres

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