Before I start my post, I want to thank Beth and ruby & roja design for the much-needed facelift. After five years of the basic red and white, it was time to let a professional take control. I highly recommend Beth's services if you're in the market for web design.
Last night, I took the kids to California Tortilla for dinner. On Mondays they offer a wheel-of-fortune spin with your purchase, which the kids love, and twice I've gotten a free burrito out of the adventure.
The four of us sat in a corner by ourselves until an elderly gentleman sat down next to us. At first I didn't notice what he was carrying, but when he placed it on the table, there it was -- a green Bubba Keg.
Within seconds, my eyes began to well with tears. I looked down at my food, but it was too late. The kids had caught me during a grief trigger. "Why are your eyes red?" E asked. "Why are you sad, Mama?" D demanded.
I just shook my head, not wanting to reveal something the older man might overhear. He was busy swigging water (at least I hope it was water) to down about a dozen pre-dinner pills.
Anyway, what was I going to say: "Hey, your Bubba Keg is exactly like the one my dead mother kept by her side while she was dying!"
But that's exactly what the Bubba Keg was -- the cooler my sister Diana bought our mother, so she'd always have ice water on her bed-side table. During my many visits to my sister's home before Mami died, I filled it at least once a day with water and cubed ice. If you didn't screw the top on just right, it was likely to cause a major spill. Mami reminded me of this fact every single time she asked me to fill the big green cooler. In fact, I can picture pretty much every single member of my family -- even my nieces and nephews and my two older kids -- with the damn thing.
I don't know if my sister took it to the hospice center where Mami spent her final six-and-a-half days, but it was in Diana's house when I arrived. Seeing it then, it was impossible to imagine anyone else every drinking something out of it. It had been Mami's.
But there was the nice little old Jewish man, reading the weekly Forward, telling me the baby's name was the same as his rabbi's, asking E if he'd share his favorite jokes from the kids' joke book he was reading, complimenting D's cute sundress ... and drinking out of Mami's Bubba Keg. It was hard not to stare, not to remember, not to burst into tears.
That green Bubba Keg. I think of it and can still hear her say "Traeme mas hielo, mamita."