Wednesday, February 25, 2009

She taught me to make tortillas…

On Thursday, February 12, Na'chin Teck went to be with her Savior. Na'chin means grandmother, and Na'chin Teck was my Belizean grandmother. She welcomed me, not only into her home, but into her family as well. It was at her comal (a thick iron griddle placed over a fire hearth built on the floor) that I learned the art of making corn tortillas. In her home I made tamales for the first time, and learned to squeeze the juice from some small fruits called Black Marble, in English. Na'chin laughed when I squeezed the Black Marble, as it stained my "pretty white hands" a funny mixture of black and purple. But Na'chin never laughed at my broken Maya, she always patiently talked to me (she spoke no English), and somehow always understood what I was saying, even at the beginning when my Maya was so limited.

Na'chin had been sick with tuberculosis for several years now. I remember lying in bed at night and hearing her coughing repeatedly through the night, yet I hardly ever heard her complain. She was a woman who cared for others without giving much thought to herself.

I remember Na'chin's care for me, especially one scorching hot day in dry season when I walked to Na'chin's house from the junction. The sun was blazing down, the road was dusty, and it was more than a two mile walk. When I arrived, my face was flushed a brilliant shade of red from the heat, and my clothes were drenched with sweat. Na'chin became a flurry of activity, despite my protests that I would be fine. She sent one granddaughter to buy ice and juice, while insisting I lie down. She then removed my shoes and began to wipe my face with a damp cloth. When the ice and juice came, she had me drink glass after glass, while cooling me off with ice packs. That is just the way Na'chin was, always caring for others.

Na'chin was not a tall woman, the top of her head barely reached above my waist. In fact, I had a floor length Maya skirt like Na'chin always wore. When she tried mine on for size, she had to tie it above her head in order to keep it from dragging on the floor.

Despite her small stature and quiet spirit, Na'chin was a woman who impacted many around her. She had nine sons and two daughters, as well as many grandchildren. All of them loved her, and knew she loved them. Most importantly, Na'chin was a woman who loved God. She trusted Him, and often prayed for her children and grandchildren.

Na'chin's funeral was on a Saturday, but I was unable to attend because of the workshops. Even though I did not see her earthly remains lowered into the ground, I know where Na'chin is, and it isn't in that box. Wednesday night, before she died, I was there with Na'chin. She had been asking for me, and I was able to spend some precious hours with her and her family. He frail body was tired, her arms looked like thin spindles, but she whispered in my ear that she still trusted God and she would see me again someday. Her last words still sing in my ears, "Dios ca yi'lech, Rebecca." God will look after you, Rebecca.

And He will.

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