Saturday, March 24, 2007


Teresa at rest. It’s like capturing the image of a hummingbird at a flower. This is my mom’s friend – her housekeeper and all-round helper for about 15 years now. She’s here to accompany Mom when she heads back to Lubbock on Monday.

Teresa moves through life at about mach 2, supporting a husband and extended family by cleaning houses and office buildings and doing laundry every evening for a sleep disorder clinic. This is supposed to be a sort of vacation for her. That was our intention. But Teresa doesn’t really know how to be still. So we find her in the laundry, or behind the ironing board, or in the kitchen just wiping down the counters. Last night I made chiles rellenos, a process-intensive project to say the least, involving frying pans, egg beaters, mixing bowls, food processor, lots of fiddly stuff. Teresa was at my side, and when everything was ready to serve, the kitchen was already sparkling. And when we had eaten….those dishes were gone.

I wish Teresa knew just how valuable her existence is, how we would enjoy her for her companionship alone. She is third generation Texan, but pure mexicana, as she told Chano the other day. She has a heritage of patience, forbearance and hard work. She also has a son in prison, put there by the spiteful and hardly credulous accusations of a fifteen year old girl. But credulous, evidently, to a West Texas judge. When Teresa asked her son if she should go to court with him that morning, should they get a lawyer, he told her, “No, Mom. It’s all a misunderstanding. I’ll get it cleared up and be home for lunch.” She goes to see him every other weekend.

The word respect comes from two latin roots which mean “to look again.” The more I “look again” at Teresa, at Chano painting our house detail by detail, Hilda with her bucket of Fabuloso, Maria across the street washing down the cobblestones and the driveway, the more my respect for them deepens. Precious dear faces, each with a story. I’m so grateful they are here and a part of our story.

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