Thoughts by My Mother's Grave

Ofelia Zepeda

One could tell that it had rained on All Souls' Day by the appearance of the once colorful wreaths of crepe paper flowers that my big sister had made. The wreaths were now almost white, with only just a faint color left on them; all of the poor wreaths sagged from the cross at the head of my mother's grave. The jars of candles had also been ruined; water had filled up in them before they had had a chance to burn down very far.

I noticed that the jar of water which I had placed at the head of her grave was still there. There was also a sack of food there, it was some of what my sisters had prepared for the feast on All Souls' Day. There must have been a package of Wrigleys spearmint gum there somewhere, since my sisters say that my father always brings a pack of spearmint gum for my mother; it was her favorite kind of gum.

While I stood at the grave, I lit a candle and set it at my mother's grave. While standing there I could not help but think how quiet it was going to be this Christmas without my mother. It had always been her custom to make red chili tamales and to feed people all through the night. On Christmas day she would entertain and play music for the children and the drunken friends and relatives that happened to come by.

On New Years it would be even quieter, since it was also my mother's custom to have plenty of food for all the people during the night. She also made sure that there was a piñada and other party favors for everyone. She used to always make sure that no one fell asleep before midnight; she tried to make sure that we all saw the "old year leave and the new year come in."

It was mainly these two times which I thought of while standing there by the grave; I figured with the coming of the new year there would be many things which I would miss mainly due to my mother's passing. But I supposed that things will be all right as the times passed. I will continue to go on my way with only these simple, but good, memories which my mother has left in me.

Ofelia Zepeda. "Thoughts by My Mother's Grave" printed by permission of the author. Copyright ©1980 by Ofelia Zepeda.

As printed in Larry Evers, ed. The South Corner of Time. Tucson, Ariz.: The University of Arizona Press, ©1980, p. 182.