My sister, Rosy, is visiting me this weekend. I had asked my mom to send me everything she had collected from the tortilla the last 37 years and Rosy brought quite a few pictures that I hadn’t seen in years, maybe never.
For example, this picture on your left, is my mom while she was pregnant with me, sometime during late 1978 or early 1979. Despite her fragile state at the age of 39 and carrying her sixth child, she appears to be healthy. No real physical sign of her anxiety and nervousness. I wonder if she had any idea what the next ten years would be like for her and for those of us around her.
Ten years after the discovery of the Jesus tortilla, in 1987, The Albuquerque Journal magazine did a profile on my mom. It was a really great piece, which discusses what happened that day on October 5, 1977, lots of reflection on what this discovery meant to my mom and the entire family. After a decade-long battle with serious anxiety, my mom appears healthy and vibrant, approaching her 50th birthday, outside in the capilla she and my aunt Margarita built on their own.
Then there is this picture. I posted it earlier on Facebook and Twitter and my siblings and I had a good laugh about it. Except that the picture I posted earlier was only my half of the picture. It didn’t include my mom. To be frank, this picture really scared me when I saw it for the very first time this afternoon. If you look at the other pictures of my mom, this picture looks nothing like the Maria Rubio I know. This picture of her illustrates a person who was suffering.
I talked to my mom tonight and I mentioned to her that this picture was really disturbing to me. First of all, let’s not ignore the face I am making in this photo. I’m sure the photographer was having a helluva time photographing this 9yr old with attitude. But more importantly, there’s my mom just sitting there. Almost in a coma, her face slightly disfigured. My mom doesn’t look well and as I gaze at her, I can’t help but wonder what she must have been feeling. Furthermore, what must have been going through my own mind? If you can recall from my previous post, my ninth year was not the best. This picture must have been taken during that period. Now that you mention it, it could have been my 20th absence.
When my mom called this evening, I asked her about this picture tonight. She didn’t have much of a response.
Someone mentioned the tortilla to me yesterday during lunch and asked if my mom moving the tortilla around, out of the house and into a capilla (chapel), outside of our home, was perhaps a metaphor for what my mom felt towards the entire situation? Had she grown uncomfortable around it? As a kid, I saw the tortilla move from the inside of our home, to a capilla in the front yard, to eventually all the way back, behind the house. It sure makes me wonder about that very question.
The fact is, the Jesus tortilla was something I was never comfortable with. It wasn’t explicit at a young age, probably because I didn’t really understand it. Remember, I was pretty much conditioned to it being a part of my life. But over time, I hated being associated with something people called, “a miracle.”
Since birth, all I’ve ever known is my mom to be sick. Since birth, the tortilla has always been a part of my life. I know there is no direct correlation, but it sure makes me wonder about what my mom’s life, and my life, for that matter, would have been like had the Jesus tortilla happened to someone else.