Tia Chuy

Dia de muertos in Guadalajara

By Abelardo de la Pe?a Jr.
Published on LatinoLA: November 4, 2005

Tia Chuy

I was set for Dia de los Muertos. Self Help Graphics v. the artists. Maybe a return to the artistic, cultural, and political roots of the Mexican holiday transplanted to LatinoLA. Or a brawl as emotion and frayed feelings, exposed over the community center's closing and the semi-secretive process of resurrection.

Instead: My Tia Chuy - Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Rodriguez - died suddenly Tuesday morning in Guadalajara. My dad and I flew out, got there about midnite. It was all night vigil at the funeraria with lots of rosaries, oraciones, and re-introductions to relatives I hadn't seen in years.

She was buried on Wednesday: Dia de Muertos. That's what they call it in Guadalajara. Schools close, some businesses, too.

The cemetery was crowded with families, congregating around gravesites, laying on blankets or sitting in folding chairs, tables laden with food and drink, picnic umbrellas, tarps, kids running around, vendors, strolling mariachis and conjuntos. A festive scene, really. Laughter, chatter, solemnity, we slowly marched down the crowded, winding cemetery road from the chapel where mass was said to her final resting place.

Very surreal, as we followed the coffin from the chapel to the gravesite, curiosity from onlookers, hawks flying overhead. Lots of emotion, as relatives and friends spoke lovingly of Tia Chuy. Her only child, my Tia Rosa, who is about my father's age, recited poetry, and a cousin sang as the casket was being placed in the grave. Then the workers filled it in, very efficiently. A black butterfly fluttered by.

Walked back to the bus which got us there, more families streaming in, vendors selling marigolds, refrescos, sugar skulls. For us, it seemed like the blanket of sorrow was lifted, as my aunt began smiling and her children, mis primos, relaxed. Better than here, where the mourning goes on for days.

Tia Rosa and family were touched by my family?s show of support. My three brothers, sister and her three daughters joined Pap? and I, representing.

But Tia Chuy deserved it.

She took care of my dad when Abuelita made the journey al Norte, and later cared for her in her later years. She lived with my parents for a while after that, and only three years ago returned to Guadalajara. Her physical presence will be missed, tremendously, by her daughter, grandchildren, and great grand children. She was their Mama Chuy.

My wife, sons, and daughters loved her. I admired her quiet strength, my son Michael her stoic presence. She was tough, little Tia Chuy.

But her quiet, strong, loving spirit remains, watching over us, and being part of our daily lives. As do all the dead, los muertos, our deceased family members, friends, colleagues, and heroes.

Everyday is dia de muertos.

?Adios Tia Chuy!

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