Mexican Food

“But it didn’t matter,” she goes on. “My family don’t want me. My parents couldn’t handle me marrying Guatemalan.”

A Mexican restaurant. Suppertime. I’ve been traveling. Earlier today, I spoke to a roomful of Presbyterians.

They were emotionally stiff. Only one gentleman in the audience laughed. His name was Davidek. Davidek is from the Czech Republic. Davidek laughed because he doesn’t understand English.

In fact, he only knew two English words: “Thank you.” Davidek shook my hand and said “Tankyou tankyou, tankyou,” nearly nine hundred times.

I pull off the highway. This joint is small. It borderlines on a dive. The stool cushions are torn. There’s a funny smell. A television above the bar.

My waitress is not Mexican. She is from North Tennessee. Her drawl is so mountain-thick it’s music. She has red hair and freckles. She is twenty-two.

It’s a slow night. Servers are playing on phones. The cooks are bored. My waitress is a talker.

“Where’re you headed?” she asks.

“Lake Martin,” I say.

“Oh dude, I LOVE it there, that’s where we went on our honeymoon. I SO wish we could move there.”

“You’re a long way from Tennessee. How’d you get this far South?”

“Oh, we been here three years. We came after my husband got laid off, I was pregnant. My husband needed a change of scenery.”

“What’s your husband do for a living?” I ask.

She points to the kitchen. “Right now? He works here. That’s him, cooking in back.”

The Hispanic man waves a spatula at me.

She laughs. “He’s one semester away from being an engineer. We’re so proud.”

“He must be smart. I can’t add more than two numbers at once.”

“He is. And I just started college, too, end of last year. Only taking a few classes ‘cause I’m busy all day with my daughter.”

She removes a cellphone. She shows me a photo of a toddler with a ribbon on her auburn head, a feeding tube in her nose.

“She’s beautiful,” I say.

“Oh, she knows it.”

“You’re gonna have your hands full when she gets older.”

“Honestly, we’re just thankful she’s alive. She was born with stomach issues. That little girl’s fought harder than you’d believe. She is our world.”

“She looks strong.”

“She is so strong. The doctor just gave us good news last week. Her tests all came back good. It’s a freakin’ miracle, man. She can finally live a normal life.”

The girl’s eyes fog up. “We’re just so grateful.”

Mine fog up, too. “She sounds like a real fighter.”

“Yep, just like her daddy. He’s stubborn. Nobody can tell him what to do.”

I have one those at home.

“Yeah,” she goes on. “I’m really close with his mom and dad. They’ve been my family. My support system, my real family don’t want nothing to do with me. My husband’s family moved within a hundred feet of us after Alma was born. ”

“That’s pretty close to be living to in-laws.”

“Yeah, but dude, I freakin’ love my in-laws. Soon as we got married they all started teaching me Spanish so I could fit in to the family. I started working with his mom on her English, too, so she could fit into mine…”

She gives another laugh.

“But it didn’t matter,” she goes on. “My family don’t want me. My parents couldn’t handle me marrying Guatemalan.”

This breaks my heart.

“Yeah. My mom and dad won’t even call me back no more. They don’t even know their own grandbaby.”

I wish I had something I could say. But I don’t.

“Aw, but it’s cool,” she says. “I gotta a new life now. And we’re SO ready to make decent money once he finishes. We’ll probably move somewhere cool.”

“Like where?”

“Doesn’t matter, just as long as they have good schools and good hospitals.”

“For your daughter?”

“And my son.”

“You have TWO kids?”

She laughs. “Well, we WILL.” She touches her belly.

“No way. You’re too skinny to be pregnant.”

More laughing. “That’s sweet of you, but you still have to pay for your beer, hun.”

She shows me a cellphone photo of a sonogram. “See? This is Miguel, and there’s his you-know-whatie.”

“Yep, that’s definitely not a girl.”

She speaks in a loud voice. “My husband freaked when we found out. He cried at the doctor’s office. He’s a big old softy. I love him so much.”

My tacos finally arrive. I eat them in only a few bites. I order a few more to-go. I pay her, then tip her—I wish I had more cash on me, I’d give it all to this perfectly beautiful family. But you can’t win them all.

“Gracias,” I tell her.

She responds in Spanish.

Anyway, I have a short drive ahead of me. And something occurs to me that I wish I would’ve realized earlier tonight. Something a man named Davidek tried to remind me of, but I just didn’t listen. I guess what I’m trying to say is:

Thank you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

27 comments

  1. Pamela McEachern - August 26, 2018 6:19 am

    Thank you for your stories that bring us all back to how special it feels to know humanity in our lives. I count on you and you haven’t let me down. I hope everyone has a Sunday full of Blessings.

    Peace and Love from Birmingham

    Reply
  2. GaryD - August 26, 2018 7:48 am

    Thank you, Sean. And thank you for the stories from all the wonderful people you meet.

    Reply
  3. Van Mitchell - August 26, 2018 8:46 am

    If you are going to Lake Martin again. …..you need to visit the camp!!

    Reply
  4. Pat Patton - August 26, 2018 9:37 am

    I love this story. I hope that young family has a very blessed life. You too, Sean!

    Reply
  5. Nancy - August 26, 2018 10:33 am

    In this world that seems so full of sadness and despair you are a bight shining star! Please don’t ever stop sharing the hope that you see every day because your writing fills our hearts with love and hope. Have a blessed day Sean of the South!

    Reply
  6. Cynthia Saunders - August 26, 2018 10:54 am

    Likewise…Thank you! It is so important to talk to one another so we know what the quality of everyone’s heart is. That is how God sees us, right?

    Reply
  7. revbigbaldguy - August 26, 2018 11:09 am

    Okay – I’m sitting here working up a sermon and came across this on the web. You made me cry…..again. You gave me pretty good sermon illustration too. “Thank you,” Sean. “Thank you.”

    Reply
  8. Kathy - August 26, 2018 11:41 am

    This was wonderful, Sean. Once again you cut through hatefulness and shined a light of humanity on good, hard working people. I would have given her and her family all the money I had on me too.

    Reply
  9. Shirley Northington (Skelton) - August 26, 2018 12:10 pm

    Once again, thank you. Got to enjoy you in person last night in Tallassee. Got to see, not meet, your wonderful Jamie. But I know her through your stories. And then you came on stage, or was that really Hank!? I was enthralled by your music and stories, and ended the evening with misty eyes. .One day I’ll meet you in Prattville Cracker Barrel. Love you, too.

    Reply
  10. Connie Havard Ryland - August 26, 2018 12:32 pm

    Thank you from the bottom of mine. Beautiful story.

    Reply
  11. Naomi - August 26, 2018 12:45 pm

    My granddaughter is married to a Guatemalan. They have been married 13 years and have 2 daughters. He is the best husband and father that any grandmother could ask for.

    Reply
  12. Jack Darnell - August 26, 2018 1:29 pm

    It still amazes me that families can disown their Own. I could never do that!

    Reply
  13. Marilyn - August 26, 2018 1:30 pm

    Thank you Sean…..thank you!

    Reply
  14. Carla - August 26, 2018 1:32 pm

    Love this one.

    Reply
  15. Terri Boykin - August 26, 2018 2:28 pm

    Thank you, Sean. Love you much.
    Terri

    Reply
  16. Betty F. - August 26, 2018 3:12 pm

    Beautiful! Sean, not all Presbyterians are stiff. Can we look into booking you for a night at First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville, GEORGIA?

    Reply
  17. Edna B. - August 26, 2018 3:20 pm

    Today’s story is beautiful. I wish that young couple many years of happiness. Family is so important. Sadly, some folks haven’t realized that yet. Sean, I’m blessed to have you in my life, even if only through your stories every day. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  18. Haskel JP - August 26, 2018 4:54 pm

    An evening very well spent in Tallassee last night Sean. Great music and laughs from the start and kudos to Goat Hill String Band, they can pick and sing as well. You and Jamie are so gracious and I look forward to reading the book and thanks for autographing it.

    Reply
  19. Shelton Armour - August 26, 2018 5:00 pm

    I’m so proud of the girl and her family…one great story. Shame about her family, but it’s their loss.

    Reply
  20. Nancy Thomaston Rogers - August 26, 2018 11:28 pm

    Good to know people still choose to love (and have kids) when others would say the odds are against them. They know what truly matters.

    Reply
  21. Toni Tucker Locke - August 27, 2018 12:32 am

    Sean, you have become my new favorite writer. Today my family is grieving the suicide of my fifteen-year-old grandson. His name was Miguel–so the baby named in the ending of this particular story touched my heart.

    Reply
    • Janet Mary Lee - August 29, 2018 8:39 pm

      Toni, so sorry for your incredible loss to your family. Love and prayers for you and yours.

      Reply
  22. perry5360 - August 27, 2018 2:30 am

    Thank you

    Reply
  23. George - August 27, 2018 3:27 pm

    No Sean! Thank you.

    Reply
  24. Judy Holdren Beaver - August 27, 2018 5:15 pm

    But Sean what about Thelma Lou?

    Reply
  25. Carol - August 28, 2018 1:43 pm

    Thank you. And God bless you for listening and careing!!
    Your the best. !
    Love ya!

    Reply
  26. Janet Mary Lee - August 29, 2018 8:40 pm

    Simply beautiful…the best kind!

    Reply

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