Spanish Butterfly Season 2 – Episode 2 “Grandpa Juan Perez”

By Tyrone A Moore

Another strange, and peculiar outcome was, although my sister and brothers were breed with Spanish–and Indian blood–I was the darkest of all. My biological father was a Caucasian man, but of course I didn’t understand this. Mixed with Caucasian, that would make me a half-breed, but no one could tell by just looking at me in a million years! I was so dark, my grandfather use to call me, “mi pequeno oscuro”–meaning…”My little dark one.”

My grandfather was one of the only one, who truly loved me, and treated me kindly. He, unlike my dad, allowed me to sit on his lap. Grandpa would tell me all kinds of stories that would always amaze me. He would also tell me very funny stories too. I would be in tears from some of the things he would say. Another thing about my grandfather, he did not allow my dad, or anyone else–to lay a hand on me–as long as he was around me! This was the same man who use to beat my mother as a child, to the point where she got pregnant and left home.

At the time, all I cared about was his love for me, because practically no one else did. If my dad tried to spank me around my grandfather, he’d say…”If you touch this child, I will kill you!” Of course I loved it, because I knew if he was around I was safe–not only from my dad–but also from my mother, sister, and my from my brothers. As much as I loved my grandpa too, one of his fault was he was prejudice. He did not like the white man. He said, “them gringos were all devils!”

Grandpa was born in the late 1800s, at which at that time–Mexicans and Indians did not get along at all with the white man. He and others were constantly harassed by them growing up. When he moved his family from Mexico City to the United States, first to Colorado, then to Fairbanks Alaska–during World War II–is when he had most of his problems with the white man. He then lived in Alaska with my mother, and her siblings. Grandpa had to raise them by himself. Still grieving the lost of my grandmother, he took to drinking heavy. Barely managing to keep food on the table, grandpa worked everyday, and for long hours. It took him many years and many jobs before he landed a job working for the coal mine in Fairbanks. Before the white man was slamming doors in his face, or saying mean things like, “We don’t give jobs to spics and wet backs!”

Grandpa was a very tall man, he could whoop most white men, but either he was always out numbered–or there would be too many witnesses around. If ever caught fighting a white man back in those days, he was sure to go straight to prison, being that he was a Mexican. Plus, he had to take care of his familia.

Good thing for those white men, grandpa was a mellow man, he didn’t look for any trouble–and he was wise enough to stay out of any troubles. Half Yaqui Indian, he carried a lot of Indian characteristics, and beliefs. Like the Yaqui Indians, grandpa was a firm believer in having great respect for nature–everything represented life! Indian people believe that they were conceived in the supernatural or the spirit world. My grandpa said that, “At around 5 am and 7 pm, there is a window or door–that opens up between the spiritual dimension–and the living. ‘It is a dimension where higher consciousness, or highly evolved beings exist between both worlds.”

He said, around 5 in the morning people are usually born, and around 7 in the evening, people usually pass away. “Since the white man’s first invasion, most Indian culture, and way of life, was nearly wiped out by them. Indians use to live off the fat of the land exclusively.” ‘Like the use of bows and arrows to hunt for food, and for raging war against other tribes, now with the persuasion of the white man–the Indians started to use rifles and guns–to hunt for food and–to rage war against their enemies. They taught the Indians their customs and beliefs. And when they had finally conquered America, the white man’s way of life, dominated the way of life for all natives of the land.’ The Indians were given small lands throughout America, in turn for their entire land. Soon the Indians were looked upon as low-life and savages! Once they were free to roam the whole continent, as a mighty and brave nation, of warriors.” Grandpa said, “You couldn’t have found a more proud people in all the land. And now almost totally extinct, they only thrive on small reservations throughout America, clinging onto to what’s left of their culture, and way if life.” ‘Another thing that had drastically changed their way of life, was the introduction of alcohol, better known to the Indians as “Fire water.” ‘Today almost the entire race are alcoholics! The Spaniards who came over to America, were the first to conquer or so-call, “discovered America,” mated with the Indians–and created a mixture of the two races–known today as Mexicans.”

Grandpa talked a lot about nature, and natural medicines. He did not believe in taking man-made medications, or prescriptions. He only took natural herbal medicines like the Indians has done for thousand of years. If you had any ailments, grandpa knew exactly what concoction to get rid of it. He also knew how to make herbal medicines, and when was the best time to grow a pacific herb! He said the best time to plant, or to harvest herbs, was on a full moon. That was when the earth was at it’s strongest.

I myself have grown very found of nature, and I have a very wide knowledge of herbs today, because of my grandfather. Also, he had taught me a great deal about the spirit that lives within us. My mom told us about a time when she was real small, shortly after my grandmother died, she saw some stairs–which appeared to her in front of her house. She began walking up them, and noticed how pretty–and white they were. There was a beautiful light that shined all around her. While she was standing on top the stairs, and with an expression on her face of total amazement, she was jolted out of this trance by my uncle. She heard her name as he called out to her, “Hey Isabella, adonde vas?” (where are you going?)

Her brother had noticed the stairs too. She looked to see who was calling her name–then the stairs suddenly disappeared underneath her. She instantly fell to the ground with a thump! Although she was not hurt from the fall, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because she did not know what had just happened for a minute or two. Still wandering if what she had just saw was true, her brother acknowledged..”I can’t believe what I just saw!” He too was in a state of shock. If it weren’t for someone else, beside herself who had witnessed this miracle, she would not have believed it herself.

One early Sunday morning, grandpa took me to Butterfield Canyon, located in the mountains of Anchorage. Grandpa had me imagining that the sun was just about to rise, because we lived in Alaska, the sun stayed up for days. He said…”When the sun rises up, that is when everything se levanta (wakes up). As soon as the sun would peak up from behind the high mountains, and just a hint of light showed, you could hear birds chirping all around. Each different species of birds waking up, one by one. Just reaching have way up, the sun made the earth bright with its sunlight. Even the morning dew that blanketed the earth, seem to be waking up as well. All the different species of birds all sang together in one accord in perfect harmony.

Imagining nature was awakening right before our eyes as grandpa, and I, watched and heard the earth and animals give praise to God for life. As the sun became fully visible above the mountains, it was as though God was saying good morning to all of his creation, with a gentle breath from his lips–and then in a blink of an eye–every living soul including every animal, insect, birds, fish, grass, trees, flowers, mountain, the earth’s core, the sun, moon, every planet, and stars in heaven, responding simultaneously to God’s voice! The morning dew was turning into a lite midst, that hoovered over the earth like a soft blanket, and as the sun warmed the ground from the previously cool night–it continue to rise slowly like the spirit leaving a soul journeying toward heaven.

Grandpa had brought along a watermelon for us to snack on. “Okay sweetheart, go and wash your hands in the agua (water) over there, so we can eat this watermelon,” grandpa said pointing toward the lake of water that was nearby. “Okay grandpa,” I said as I leaped off the hood of his old station wagon. I ran over to the lake and thrust my hands into the water. A thunderous shout ranged from behind me, as his voice echoed off the mountain, the trees, and the lake! “What are you doing?” grandpa asked. “You don’t just go over an throw your hands into the water like that. You must first wake up the water by gently caressing it with your hands.” Grandpa proceeded to demo the proper technique, by showing me himself how it is done. “You see, this is how you first wake up the water, before you drink it. You have to have great respect for it, because water is the source of life.” ‘Have you ever seen a horse drink water?’ he asked. “Yes grandpa I have.”

Now in a more loving tone, my grandfather went on to explain how even the animals, show much respect for nature. “Well have you paid any attention to the way they drink the water? First, the animals move the water around gently, with their noses, before drinking. The Indians learned from the horses, that you must show great respect  for God’s resources of life. Everything is alive!” I acknowledged that I understood what my grandfather was teaching me with his great wisdom.

So I did as he said, and gently caressed the water first, then I washed my hands in the lake. I must admit, I did feel more at one with nature, because my grandfather had taught me a very valuable lesson. Now you can see why I loved my grandfather so much. He was a smart and caring man, and he loved me. And I loved him back. I had never experienced something so awesome as simply sitting on the hood of grandpa’s station wagon, eating watermelon, and not just only watching nature–but also listening to it–and being at one with it. I mean complete purpose. Everything has a purpose, and is full of life!

You know most of us do not get a chance to really stop and smell the roses, because we get too caught up in our own busy world, when right underneath our noses–are the little important things we call life. God has provided us with everything we could possibly need, but we always want more, or we want something other than what he has provided. Maybe it’s a part of human nature.

Speaking of nature–all of God’s creation is content with life lot, but us human species. Created in his image, but yet the most unsatisfied creation of all. Spending our entire existence, trying to fill a void that we cannot seem to fill. I think perhaps, because we truly don’t know what it is that we are searching for. Something strongly  suggests to me, that whatever it is that we are searching for, we are not going to find it down here. I have yet to see anybody completely satisfied with any “THING” here on earth. The closest I have came to filling that void, is through loving nature itself. If you pay close enough attention to nature, you’ll realize that it is pointing to something bigger than ourselves. Something more meaningful and gratifying that is tugging at us throughout life’s short existence. There never seem to be enough time in a day, let alone in a life time–to discover it all. The Indians are remarkable people, and so was my grandfather. Like the Indians, my grandfather was a very spiritual man too. Born March 4th, he was a Pisces like me. Pisces usually tend to be very spiritual, and into nature!

As we were still eating our fruit, grandpa told me another story about a farmer who raised vacas (cow), a long time ago in Mexico. There was this one particular cow who became close companion with the farmer’s cat. But the real peculiar thing was this heifer was getting much fatter than the other vacas. “The farmer could not figure this out,” grandpa said. “So one day, the farmer decided to follow the cow–and to his amazement, he noticed his cat–and the cow–going  through an opening–that led to the other side of the mountain.

On the other side of the mountain, there was a beautiful pasture of luscious green grass, unlike any other pasture he had ever seen before! The farmer quickly ran back to town to tell the other farmers what he had discovered. Of course, there was a few that were skeptical, but many knew the farmer to be a man of his word–so they followed him through the opening the heifer and his cat went through–that led to the other side of the mountain. Every farmer in town, was very proud of himself on knowing, that he had the best farm in the land. Without a doubt, they all had searched high and low for the best pasture, and land, to raise their animals on. So they all knew of no such place. Someone would have ran across it sooner or later. As the farmer showed all the other farmers where his cow, and his cat went in, as they approached the entrance to the luscious green pasture–they were immediately stunned and could not believe their eyes. And almost as soon as they all saw this mysterious place, it suddenly disappeared right before there eyes! Til this day, everyone believed it to be holy grounds.” grandpa concluded his tall tale.

My mother told me, that one day my grandfather said to her, that women started their menstrual cycle on a full moon–that is why they call it “Being on your moon.” Continuing in his story telling tone, “but because of all the artificial lighting today, women start their cycles at different times of the month–making them irritable and off balance. Back in the days there were little use for artificial lights.

Even the men were thrown off balance because of artificial lighting. So now it has become a human imbalance.” For example, he said…”women use to be more even tempered, most likely to keep the family together, and being the care-giver. She set the emotional tone in the household. And if the casa (home) was all cozy, and joyous inside, that meant the home was too! You remember the old saying?…”A happy wife is a happy life!” Now while her husband was out providing for the whole family, her job was to take care of the house–and the children.”

Grandpa was such an amazing story teller, I lost all sense of time, and where I was at the present moment. I didn’t even notice the shifting of the sun moving so slightly from east to west. Grandpa continued explain to me the difference in the woman’s cycle, that has changed, due to the artificial lighting–and the new roles–the woman has taken recently. “Today, women are working more, and out of the house–to help provide for the family. Nowadays, you need two incomes to make ends meet. In a lot of cases today, women are even abandoned by their husband to raise the kids on their own. What a tragedy! Today, women have degrees, and hold prestigious positions in the corporate world, and even owning their businesses–once dominated by men. So pretty much, the centeredness, we once had with mother nature, and the earth’s energy–had been lost–from the way it use to be.” That is why when I started my menstrual, I called it “being on the moon” too. And believe it, or not, my menstrual always started on–or around a full moon!

Just like clockwork, grandpa would come over to the house every weekend, and some weekday, in the morning hour. Mom always left the back door unlocked, so he would just let himself in–being very careful not to wake anyone up. Grandpa could be heard whistling in the kitchen, as he made himself some coffee, or warmed up some tortillas–this was the way of the Mexican people. If you were family, the door was always opened, that is why my mother left the backdoor open that led straight to the kitchen.

“Ah Papa, why didn’t you wake me up so I could make you something?” My mother asked. “Oh no, I didn’t want to wake you, and you know I don’t want to trouble anyone.” Grandpa reassured her noticing her concern, as he was folding one the tortillas he had warmed to eat. “Now Papa you are never any trouble!

How are you doing this manana (morning) anyway?” mom asked after shifting her focus on a more nurturing tone. “Buen-Buen! Ieto?” (Good-Good! And you?) Grandpa asked. “Buen-Buen,” mom replied. “What are you going to do today?” Mom asked, as she started to warm up more tortillas, before everyone else awakened. Grandpa always brought over a load of dress shirts, particularly white ones for mom to wash. He like to dress nice, and loved it when mom did it for him, because she would get them nice and white. She would even press all of them of course. His shirts was so white, they had a slight blue tint to them. Like our clothes, mom hung grandpa’s out to dry–“the best way to dry clothes!” Mom said.

Oh, and if you haven’t ever hung your clothes out to dry, you are missing one life’s best kept secrets. Once you experience the smell of your clothes after hanging them out on a clothes line, the fresh air gives them the sweetest scent, that is hard to describe. The next morning when grandpa came over, he would have fully ironed, clean–fresh smelling starched shirts–all hanging on hangers, just waiting for his appreciation. Grandpa didn’t like the way Marilyn washed his clothes. He said her close looked like dingy rags!

Marilyn was my uncle’s esposa (wife). Grandpa lived with his son and his family for several years. Everyone knew that my mother was very particular about washing clothes. She washed white clothes at least three times, getting them whiter than white. If there was a stain on them, she would scrub them using a detergent called…”Martha Stewart’s Bluing,” because it left a light-blue tint to your whites. We had two old-fashion washers that we kept in the utility room.

My mother did not like dryers–she rather hang them outside to dry, because they always come out with a spring fresh scent mom said. And they did too! Even in the winter time she hung them out, but the only problem was sometimes, they would get cold and stiff. One time mom hung my brother’s Levi jeans outside too long, and they ended up frozen stiff! Most of the time you could hang your clothes out to dry, using the wind to air-dry them–as long as it was not snowing of course. I wasn’t just observing my mothers genius wisdom, it was part of my sisters–and I chore–to help mom with all the house duties, especially the laundry.

  • End of “SB” – Episode 2. I hope you can continue to follow this story in “SB” – Episode #3. Thank you for your time!                                                                                                          Tyrone A. Moore  (TM)

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