We met Julia’s mother again and the entire family last evening at another restaurant closer to where they live. Everyone was present this time including Julia’s brother, Walter, that did not come last Tuesday because he was working.
The family says that Walter looks the most like their father, Carlos.
He doesn’t look like Julia at all.
This is David, the sibling I think she most resembles.
It was great to see everyone again. The family was more relaxed this time. The room buzzed with chatter and rang with laughter. Everyone smiled and told jokes. We enjoyed a good meal and a little conversation. It is hard to get too deep in a setting like that and through a translator. Still it was a joyful occasion like the prodigal coming home…
Julia’s mother cried just talking about saying good-bye to her. And when we all hugged and began to depart both Julia and her mom did shed some tears.
Julia told me later it was really hard to say good-bye. She has a lot to process and work through. I am sure in the weeks ahead her conclusions will be clearer. Maybe there will be some action she should take as far as reaching out in a more definite way. But this was a good beginning of building relationship.
Julia’s mother makes a living now by buying fruit and vegetables at a local farmers’ market and reselling them on the streets near to their home. She takes a bus everyday with two of her grandchildren to make the purchases and returns to do the selling on the street.
They live in a concrete house with a tin roof, provided for the poor by the government. They have very little–a few clothes, a simple block home with scant furnishings, and half a dozen chickens–living literally hand to mouth everyday.
Another thing Estella sells is her homemade tamales and local food.
When we were saying good-bye with hugs all around, Estella presented us with a loving gift from a mother’s heart–the best she could give–a plate of homemade chicken tamales and stuffed peppers. In the morning, she killed two roosters and made the dishes to bring.
These two local dishes came at a great sacrifice and with so much love…
We were all so touched by her generosity…
The stuffed peppers were filled with ground meat, vegetables and spices, then breaded and fried. And oh so tasty!
The tamales were made of corn and stuffed with chicken and wrapped in some kind of huge leaves. They were steamed, and the best tamales I have ever had!
The nieces and nephews enjoyed a sweet ending of ice cream, which made them all so happy and active afterward!
None of us will forget Estella and the family. Somehow we are connected in a new way, and we must pray to see how it will play out in the days ahead. One interesting side note: We asked Estella what she would have named Julia if she had kept her, and she said “Elizabeth” which is the middle name we chose for our daughter. In fact, Estella calls her “Elizabeth.” Somehow I think we were on the same wave length only oceans apart otherwise.
Estella left Julia with a few photos of the family to keep. Here is one of Estella when she was 15 years old.
I am sure that the family has a lot to process as well… especially Estella. There will be waves of bitter and sweet wash over her mind in heart in the days ahead.
Isn’t life full of regret, pain, restoration, joy, and redemption for all of us?
Estella’s gift will keep giving though. You can always tell a mother’s gift; it’s the one given with the most sacrifice, selflessness, and love.