Depending on the history or legend that is followed, my Father was the youngest of either 12 or up to 22. Part of the discrepancy in this fact is that my Grandmother had several miscarriages. Why she had so many children, or why she decided to stop when she did is kind of a mystery in that she never felt like she had to explain herself to anyone. There is very little doubt that at the root of her decision was Faith. All of her children were faithful Catholics involved in the churches they attended and included a priest, two deacons, and a nun.
My grandfather died when my father was 5 years old. As such he was raised mostly by his brothers and sisters, and he was particularly close to my Tio Beto. I’m sure it was a different kind of experience for my Dad in that there were siblings of his that he never knew and some that were old enough to have been his parents themselves. As it related to me, there were some cousins of mine that were so much older than me that I thought some of them were my aunts and uncles when I was growing up.
With all the aunts and uncles and cousins that were produced by such a large family, you would think it would be hard to keep track of everyone or that it would be difficult to feel close or intimate with anyone. But I always found it to be the opposite – anytime and every time any of us got together it felt like family. Like just about any family there could be drama but I don’t remember any of it causing rifts or divisions.
And so it comes to the title of this post – out of all of my Father’s siblings, there remains only one living today, my Tia Carmen. In the picture, my Father is sitting on the couch between my Grandmother and his sister the nun, “Sister Tia” as we called her. Tia Carmen, who happens to be Sister Tia’s twin sister, is sitting at the other end of the couch. Tia Carmen loves the Dallas Cowboys and often times when we were over at her house to watch the game we’d be treated to the show that was Tia living and dying with the team. Once I was outside while a game was on and not only could I hear her as though she was right next to me, in my memory, the whole house was shaking as she jumped up and down cheering them on.
While there are still plenty of descendants, it’s still amazing to me that the end of this great family, which I have been a part of for so long, will in some way, be coming to an end, or perhaps more just the closing of a chapter. We don’t get together as a family, or party as hard as they did for that matter, as much as we used to…maybe I need to see about changing that.