La casa de mi tía Jovita

México City

Whenever I go to México City, I’m always certain to visit mi tía Jovita. I believe she was my mother’s favorite sister. And tía Jovita has always paid me a lot of attention whenever I’m in México. I know I can go to her house anytime and I’ll be welcome there. The earliest I can remember visiting her is 1965 when we spent about two months in México from December to February. My mother had told the nuns at Holy Cross School that we were going to México for two months and the nuns told mother that if my brothers and I missed that much school we would all fail to be promoted to the next grade. My mother didn’t take the nuns seriously and we stayed in Mexico for two whole months and didn’t come back until the end of February. And guess what! My mother bragged that the nuns didn’t fail all of us! They only failed to promote me! Danny and Tato were promoted, but I wasn’t. Well, two out of three ain’t bad! I had to repeat the fourth grade, but my mother viewed this as a victory against the Holy Cross nuns. I, however, was distraught about being considered a retard! Kids were cruel like that back then. Now, I look back and think of it as 4th Grade 2.0.

Anyway, when we first went to tía Jovita’s house it only had one floor. The house is built on the side of a steep mountain slope. At the top, stood a little brick building that served as the bathroom. It’s now a two-room house where my cousin Mauricio lives with his daughter and her daughter. But when I first went there, it was a very small house with all of tía Jovita’s children living there. She eventually had ten children and her grandchildren would often be there, too. There were always a lot of children there because her brother-in-law lived right next door and there was a door that opened to my tía Jovita’s back yard. I remember my cousins would call their cousins primo or prima I would also call them cousin. But they would tell me that they weren’t my cousins. They were just their cousins. And they were right. But as a nine year old, I just didn’t get it. Now that I think of it, I’m still confused by our family tree.

I went there in 1978 and it still had only one floor. And then I stopped going to Mexico for about twenty-nine years. But I got to see the house, because every time my sister Delia went she brought back pictures of the house. Well, not exactly pictures of the house, but rather pictures of the family. I couldn’t help but notice the house in the background in these pictures. One time, I told my sister, “Wow, tía Jovita now has a second floor!” When I returned last December, I saw that she now had a third floor. When I left, I asked her to build a fourth floor so I could move in.

So, tía Jovita has a son living on the second floor with his two daughters, a daughter living on the third floor with her husband, son and two daughters. And another son living in the little house at the top with his daughter and granddaughter. An NO ONE pays any rent to tía Jovita! Even in México, this just isn’t right! But she doesn’t say anything. She is just such a nice woman.

It's always very comforting to return to familiar places.