I Don’t Eat Tortilla’s But I’ll Keep An Eye On My Potato Chips.

The title to this blog post is funny, because when my sister, Rosy and my Mom were on Donahue, back in the late 1990s (still trying to find the video) there was always an opportunity for the audience to ask questions at the end of the show. During that time, all you see is Phil Donahue running around the place, trying to give the mic to whomever is about to comment or ask questions to those on stage. There is this moment on the show, that I will always remember where a young woman gets up, grabs the mic from Phil, looks right at my sister and my mom and says, “I don’t eat tortilla’s, but I’ll keep an eye out on my potato chips.” And then, she winks!  I remember watching from home and as a teenager, being completed infuriated and yes, humiliated.

But more on that another time.

IMG_5467

My cousin, Michael, photobombing the Jesus tortilla with his ketchup and cheese quesadilla.

Friday morning as I had breakfast with a friend, she mentioned an unusual love of tortilla’s. Unusual because she’s an Italian young woman from New York, who now lives in New Mexico. The way she described this love affair with the tortilla made my dad’s seem like his didn’t mean anything.

It’s quite remarkable what a staple in Mexican cuisine can do to a person. But then again, the tortilla is pretty versatile. I mean, you can eat it with just about anything. Check out my cousin, Michael, pictured on the right. His love of the tortilla included a large dollop of ketchup and sliced cheese. Ew.

IMG_1310

My dad eating falafel with a tortilla and jalapeño.

Then there is my dad, who has experimented with the tortilla in many ways. As my father becomes more “Americanized,” this fusion of Mexican traditional staples like the tortilla, with meals such as pizza, for example, become rather, well…interesting.

Yes. My dad actually put a slice of pizza inside a tortilla and ate it as the filling.  Here on the left, for example, is one of my favorites. I love to cook and usually treat my parents to some new foreign cuisines.  On this particular evening, I decided to make falafel for the first time. My dad decided to eat the falafel with a flour tortilla…and a jalapeño. Close enough to a wrap, I suppose.

The reason I share all of this is because there was no other food item that Jesus could have possibly appeared, other than a tortilla. The tortilla holds a special place in my family’s cooking. My mom not only made the best tortilla’s, but it was something you grow up having to learn to perfect. Furthermore, the tortilla is such a big part of our culture and who we are as a people.

In an Albuquerque Journal Magazine article from December 22, 1987, Toby Smith writes,

“many guests asked Maria about the face in the tortilla. A solemn-looking woman, dark-haired and hearty, Maria Rubio turned away no questioners, regardless of the hour. Smiling faintly, she explained in Spanish that the face was a message from God that he cared. God had delivered the message, Maria said, on a traditional piece of food so that people in predominantly Hispanic Lake Arthur could relate to the meaning of that message. “

ABQ Journal Magazine 12:22:1987

Mom and Dad, ABQ Journal Magazine, December 22, 1987.

Sharing stories about how my dad, or even my cousin Michael, enjoyed eating tortillas, demonstrates a correlation between the kind of nourishment this staple provides to many in our community and the spiritual nourishment my parents sought during the period of time in which the Jesus tortilla was discovered. I don’t know what would have happened had it appeared in a different form, but it was as if this was meant to be…at least for my mom and dad.

The Jesus tortilla can be a funny and quirky story, told by Hollywood over and over again. I’m happy that it’s brought so much pleasure and laughter to many throughout the years. I mean, sometimes we need a good laugh, right? But my intention is to share with you the many experiences that came from growing up in this family and how blessed we have been, regardless of how embarrassing it might have been for me as a young kid. My mom and dad pictured here, over twenty five years ago, provides me with so much comfort. Because it was a time in which so much good had happened and yet so much more to come.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Love For Writing Is No Coincidence. Just Ask My Mom

Me and Mom 1989

Photographed in 1989 (the rolled up pants give that away) Mom and I at our home in Lake Arthur, being interviewed about the Jesus tortilla.

My mom has been sick since the day she was born in 1940. Although her depression may have begun at the age of 23 or so, she struggled with malnutrition, painful earaches and bouts of serious bronchitis from a very early age. I share all of this because regardless of what has been thrown at her, my mom has always been a creative being with an imagination and a passion for art. But much like my dad, who I wrote about in my previous post, my mom has been misunderstood and she’s never been given the chance to share more of who she really is.  A writer.

Mom was the second oldest of three girls, born to Cruz and Dominga Morales in El Barranco near el Mulatto outside of Ojinaga, Chihuahua.  As mom grew older, she not only dealt constant illnesses but was also overwhelmed with the pressure and chaos of moving (the first time was from El Barranco to Rancho Barrenitos when she was just one month old) which contributed to her illnesses. Mom would later deal with the biggest move of her life when her parents, after years of arguing over whether or not to go, migrated to the United States when mom was just 14 years old in 1954. Although my grandmother, Mami Dominga, was a United States citizen, having been born in Redford, Texas and would live with her aunt and uncle in Carlsbad, New Mexico during her adolescence, she would lead her entire family back, this time to Dexter, New Mexico. (Mami Dominga was awesome, but more on that later.)

Life on the farms in the Pecos Valley was difficult. Although it was a better life than the life lived in Barrenitos, mom was still surrounded by poverty and ongoing stress.

IMG_4352

Mom and I on Mother’s Day, 2014.

The stress would increase when mom would enter the school system in Cottonwood, New Mexico, just north of Artesia.  There, the teachers were unwilling to acknowledge the fact that my mom had incredible potential. My mom was hungry to learn, despite her frailty and shy personality. Whether it was her wanting to become a writer or a nurse, much like many newly arriving immigrants of today, my mom was seen as an “other.” Instead of seeing my mom’s ability to learn fast and her desire for knowledge, my mom was told she would have to start all over and attend classes with elementary students…as a teenager.

A young woman with such an incredible passion and love for writing and books, regardless of how elementary, and an imagination that could have brought incredible vision to pages and pages of written word, did nothing to inspire teachers at her school. They let her go.

I can’t even imagine what our world would be like today if my mom had been given that one opportunity. A chance to do what she loved to do.

My mother still writes and has been most of her life, but privately, journaling consistently almost every single day or when there is no conflict with Caso Cerrado and/or the new novela on television. Although this blog is to provide some insight on my life as The Tortilla Kid, with a backdrop of my mom and her life as the focal point to the story, my hope is that this blog will provide an opportunity for you to see her for who she really is. A writer. A lover of books. A strong woman with a silent voice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Padre Nuestro…Que Esta En Lake Arthur

IMG_4335 IMG_4353I’ve spent a lot of time talking about my mom. Why not, right? She is THE Tortilla Lady! But the thing is, there were others who played a significant role in this whole “tortilla” business.  Last night, I was asked, “where was your dad in all of this?”

My dad, Eduardo, was getting ready for work at the local Lake Arthur farm where he labored for years before retiring in 1998. When my mom and my sister, Rosy, showed him the tortilla that October morning in 1977, my dad’s response was, “estan locas!” But after taking a better look at the tortilla, he goes on to say, “Nos ha llegado por alguna razon. No estan bien las cosas.” Stuff wasn’t great in the Rubio household, but more on that much later.

Last night, as I sat in Denver talking with a friend, we sat wondering about how hard it is for sons/daughters to conceptualize our parents having a life before us. Not only that, but we struggle with understanding that our parents, despite their shortcomings and mishaps, were actually trying the best that they could under the circumstances.  In terms of my parents, I think I came out ok.

I am just like my dad, for better or for worse. We’re both moody, we’re loud, we love to sing and we LOVE to tell stories (exaggerated or not). Furthermore, we both enjoy learning. We love our history, current events and catching up on politics with Jorge Ramos. As I grew up and people noticed my love of government, they’d wonder where I got it from. Fact is, I’d always wondered about that too. Where did I get it from?

My dad.

For the first forty years of his life, my dad struggled with an alcohol addiction. During that time, no one knew or possibly understood who he truly was, what he was capable of and what he must have been dealing with. All they knew was a man who drank belligerently. When he finally stopped drinking in September of 1983, I was four years old, and immune to the worst of my dad.  As I got older and now as a 35 year old adult, the dad that I know is wicked smart, funny and an amazing story teller.

Although my dad only made it to the third grade, he was always the person I sought out to help me with difficult math problems. What’s even more impressive was that despite his minimal “formal” education, my dad somehow taught me ways to get to an answer. For example, when I was in Junior High, I’d bring work home and I’d ask my him to help me with my assignments, and it was always in math. After a break from his favorite show, “Walker, Texas Ranger,” my dad would manage to figure out a formula with one of the problems.

Not “the” formula, a formula.

Regardless of how long it would take to get the answer, my dad would look at the answers in the back of the book, stare at the problem at hand and then would take the necessary steps to work it out. His ability to do advanced math (beyond the third grade) told me, as much then as it does now, that my dad is a problem solver. But no one would know this about him then, nor would they understand him now even after 31 years of sobriety.

I don’t know anything about how dad got started with his drinking, nor do I know how this addiction overwhelmed his life. But these are questions I plan to ask him eventually, I just need the right time. What I do know though, is that although he made mistakes, BIG mistakes, making life challenging for my mother, my four older sisters and older brother, he also overcame his own addiction. This problem he couldn’t have solved with a formula. He needed some divine intervention.

My mom was convinced of this in 1977 and she holds on to this belief even through today. Whether that’s the case or not, my dad survived it. Eduardo is not perfect (just ask my mom), but I know that he must struggle each and every day with this addiction and the decisions he made years ago…even after 31 years.

This story of the tortilla, although miraculous and beautiful to many, also exposes some of my family’s many flaws. I’m ok with that.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Taking A Night Off.

I’m currently in Denver, Colorado after flying out of El Paso this afternoon, by way of Phoenix. I was supposed to arrive in Denver by 12:30PM this afternoon but instead my flight came in right before 6PM…dreadfully late.

My alarm never went off.

This never happens to me. In fact, I’ve never once been late to the airport. EVER! I generally toss and turn before travel and wake up way before my alarm ever goes off.

Not today.

Last night, I set my alarm for, what I thought was 3:30AM. I was scheduled to pick up folks by 4:30AM. Neither happened. Instead, I couldn’t fall asleep until after 2AM, my alarm was accidentally set for 15:30 (3:30 PM military time) and the folks I was supposed to pick up, showed up to my house instead…in a frantic state.  They couldn’t reach me. My phone was in silence. After numerous missed calls and texts, they all thought I was dead.

Fortunately, I was not.

Why am I sharing all of this with you today? Because I’m tired and owe you an explanation. My mom taught me well.

I will resume tomorrow.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The #1 Burrito In All Of Burrito History Is…

wet_burrito_coco_renos

Photo by Sarah Bennett (Because The OC Weekly didn’t have a picture of Jesus on a tortilla in their archives)

According to Gustavo Arellano, my mom’s Jesus tortilla is the #1 burrito in all of burrito history. What an honor.

A couple of years ago when his book, “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, I contacted Gustavo over Twitter to let him know that I was Maria Rubio’s daughter and that I would be more than happy to talk to him about his book and the story of my mom. I was truly excited to learn that he’d written about her. He responded with something like, “yeah, we need to catch up!” But we never did. (I tried looking for that tweet for this post, but with over 30,000 tweets under my belt, I couldn’t locate it)

A few months ago, a friend of mine sat alongside Gustavo at The Hub in LA discussing “Latin and Literary.” I asked her to tell him I wanted to talk to him about the tortilla. I haven’t heard from him, so I’m assuming that conversation never took place. Anyhow, Gustavo, if you’re interested, I would still love to talk to you about your book and my mom. I mean, she is the winner of your burrito contest!

My point is, (because I do have one) I want to follow up with those who have written about my mom and the tortilla and ask them questions from our perspective.  I think I owe that to my mom. Secondly, and this job may be a bit more daunting, I would also like to contact those that contacted my mom, through letters written throughout the years and follow up with them.  What ever happened to them? What could we learn from their own lives and their experiences as a result of their interests in the Jesus tortilla? Because my mom did receive many letters, many pieces of correspondence from folks from all over the world, that wanted to just let my mom know that they were thinking about her and they thought she was special.

My mom is special. So why is that not worth writing about?

Stay tuned!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

La Esperanza Es La Ultima Que Muere.

IMG_5470My 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 IMG_5471magazine 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.

IMG_5469

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 IMG_5396tortilla 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.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Mom Win’s Random “Top 10s.” 

That’s right, everyone. My mom won a countdown in May, 2008!

The “Holy Christ in the Cornflakes! The Top 10 Oddball Jesus Sightings,” is, funny enough, not the worst thing on the internet that makes fun of my mom.

The Shark Guys say:

“In 1977, Maria Rubio, a housewife in Lake Arthur, New Mexico, was rolling up a burrito when she saw that the face of Jesus in the skillet burns on the tortilla. Rubio rushed out, told her friends and neighbors (Way to look like a crackpot neighbor: Run over next door and tell them to check out the face of a deity in a dish of Tex Mex) and soon formed a shrine for the tortilla, which a priest blessed.”

So many things wrong with this characterization of my mother and her discovery.

First off, my mom does not make Textortilla-Mex food. That’s just being irresponsible with inaccuracies and complete and utter blasphemy. Secondly, we lived in Lake Arthur, New Mexico.  We had very little neighbors to run to.

Below, we have another classic. Of course, this time, they go with the picture to your right, that captures my mom having a not so good day.

#ThanksObama

And the caption… really?

Maria Rubio with burrito?

According to this article, my mom was a bit of a trendsetter.  (I knew I got it from somewhere)

The one that started it all. Back in 1977, long before you could make a small fortune selling your miracle food on ebay, Jesus decided to pop up on a tortilla. Maria Rubio was making her husband breakfast when she found a thumbnail-sized image of Jesus on a tortilla. Visitors from all over came to the small town of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, to see the holy tortilla, which was kept in a shrine.

Then there was the Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas…

The Salina Journal from Salina  Kansas · Page 16

You know how my mom does it, yo! Page 16!

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Back on Monday, June 14, 1982, this newspaper published an article titled, “thousands flock to “holy tortilla” shrine.”

Looks like a decent write up…at least from what I can tell from my magnifying glass.

As Maria Rubio’s youngest daughter, I got to say that it’s hard for me to do this research without feeling angry, upset, horrified, disgusted, sad, annoyed,…(you name it) about how my mom has been portrayed over the years.  Then there are the naysayers who will say, “well she asked for the publicity” to which I’d respond with, “um…no, she didn’t.

But would that really solve anything?

What has been written about my mom in the last 37 years, has not always been pretty. In fact, it got harder to see and read with the invention of Google. But it also just means that this gives me a chance to set the record straight and validate the the 11,000 to 33,000 people, give or take (depending on what and where you read), who have entered my childhood home to share their story with my mom. This is the closest my mom will ever have to traveling the world, because people from all over and from all walks of life, made it a point to drop by and see her and that’s pretty special.

So the next time someone starts telling you this bizarre story about a woman with the face of jesus on a burrito, you set them straight and tell them it was on a flour tortilla, minus the filling.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Esta Más Jodido Que Las Mangas De Un Chaleco — Maria Rubio

Starting in or around 1979, the year that yours truly would enter this world, my mom, Maria Rubio, would be stricken with major anxiety, that at its peak in the 1980s, would even keep her locked up in our home. It was pretty scary, especially for a little kid who spent a lot of time with her. Even crossing the street to our Catholic Church, and attending and staying through mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe, was a major triumph. Unlike the wealthy who pass on their riches down to their heirs, I was the sole beneficiary to anxiety and nervousness.

We laugh now as a family, about the number of days I missed during elementary school. But looking back, it was pretty serious. In fact, I missed so much school, it’s amazing that I can even write a 140 character tweet.

I'm dying - Cameron FBDO

From one of my favorite movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I was the kid version of Cameron.

In January, 1986, and at 6 years old,  I was sitting at home, watching television during one of my “sick days,” and in disbelief, the space shuttle Challenger had just exploded before my young eyes. In 1987, my 7 years old self, during one of my number of “sick days,” sat through CBS to watch the Iran Contra hearings. Finally, in 1989, I sat in front of the television, watching Tom Brokaw announce that the Berlin Wall was coming down.

The good thing is, despite missing an obscene number of days throughout my elementary career, I managed to stay in the game when it came to current affairs.

Thank God for television.

That same year, I had entered the fourth grade at Lake Arthur Elementary School and my mom had finally come out of her decade-long battle with serious anxiety. Unfortunately, my own challenges had just peaked.  On the days that I was not absent and actually attended school, my mom (and sometimes siblings) would have to convince me to get in the car, be driven to school and walk into the classroom. My mom would have to guide her 9-year old daughter in with the rest of her class, sit near the classroom door as school began, and try to sneak out in the middle of morning matriculation. As soon as I discovered her absence, I’d go into major freak out mode, which consisted of crying and sobbing uncontrollably, almost to the point of suffocation.

That was also the year that I discovered that I was the only one that knew and understood my mom’s ailments and I could cure her. Remember, I’m nine. At one point that year, after missing a number of days…and I mean, more than ten in one semester, maybe even twenty, my superintendent finally called my parents in to speak with all three of us. He explained his concerns and how my parents could potentially get into trouble because of my “absenteeism.”  When I wasn’t being the middle person, translating this entire conversation between adults, from English to Spanish and Spanish to English (maybe even lying a bit since I knew neither one would know) it was my turn to give my position for why I chose not to attend school.  I explained that, “I am absent frequently because I take care of my mom, because she’s sick. I have an important cure that can only be found in Mexico and only I can provide.”

Of course, my superintendent didn’t buy it. On the one hand, he was threatening to report my parents for allowing me to skip school,

My mom’s story of the Jesus Tortilla is the first story told in this book. Picture courtesy of http://www.beliefnet.com

(which I don’t blame him now) and on the other hand, he knew that the Mexican cure I was talking about was just a very inexpensive bulk of penicillin, packaged in a black and white cardboard box, most Mexican families purchase when they make trips south of the border.

Even as a 9 year old, I was trying to be slick.

It still took me another few years to gain the confidence I needed to survive. Fortunately, I snapped out of it.

My home was my sanctuary. My mom was my comfort. But my mom’s anxiety and nervousness was also making me really, REALLY sick. I don’t blame her for any of it. But I’m grateful that I’m nothing like her sickly side. In fact, I’m the complete opposite.

I know two Maria Rubio’s. On the one hand, she’s a woman who has been sick all her life, who has struggled and endured great pain and suffering and who may have missed out on the greatest days of her life.

On the other hand, she is feisty, strong-willed, beautiful, audacious, dedicated, determined, tenacious, compelling, spiritual and pure.

The latter is the Maria Rubio I strive to be. That’s the Maria Rubio I want to become.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

George Lopez Would Be So Lucky To Be As Cool As My Mom.

My mom wasn’t exactly in tip-top shape during the appearance of the Jesus tortilla. To be clear, by the time October 5 arrived, my mom was already experiencing incredible anxiety. So can you imagine what it must have been like for her the first few days of this Jesus appearance? The word about the Jesus tortilla had spread like wildfire, all up and down the Pecos valley and eventually beyond.  According to my mom, there was a gentleman from a local newspaper, who interviewed her and stayed on to check out the crowds. The reporter would tell her that he counted about 60 people per hour, visiting the Jesus tortilla, on the day he was at my parents home.

On or about October 6, my mom was paid a visit by a couple of women from the nearby town of Artesia. My mom seems to only remember one of the women, Josephina Ochoa.  With them, they carried a holy bible, which they were delivering to my mom and they asked her to flip to a page in the bible to see where it would land.  When she flipped the bible opened, it was to John 15, the chapter on Jesus being the “true vine.”  When I ask my mom what she thought that meant at the time, she said, “quien sabe?” In other words, who knows? The fact is, those early days were a whirlwind for my mom.  An experience, that until this day, still seems to baffle her. And me. And I’m sure my siblings. When I ask her about her interviews with reporters, she doesn’t know or remember what exactly she said. It’s a faded memory. She was just too out of it.

First off, I’m still amazed at the amount of people who visited my mom at our home in the early days of the Jesus tortilla. I mean, normally there are a ton of people at my parent’s house, but that’s just the family. I can’t imagine 60 strangers every single hour. Secondly, there were people, like this woman, Josephina Ochoa, who may have seen my mom as a holy vessel, just because my mom discovered this Jesus tortilla. How can you explain why someone would bring you a bible and have you flip to a chapter to see where it lands? It’s like religious Russian roulette…or something less dramatic. For those of us who are rational and think things through logically, it’s absurd, right? To think of my mom as holy. But there is something special about my mom, holy or not, that people seem to gravitate to. I don’t think I will ever be able to explain it.

Hollywood, as seen above, has gotten rich, time at time again, for exaggerating a story that is so personal to my mom. I guess George Lopez should thank her personally for his success. In any case, I hope that those of you who are reading this blog, understand that behind this funny and quirky story about a woman and her Jesus tortilla, is a real-life story of a woman who is real and a mother who managed to raise a child who would do a crazy thing and write all about it.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When The Deacon Said, “No Chewing Gum,” My Mom Handed Me Some Gum.

IMG_5420

This is my mom, Maria, also known as the “The Tortilla Lady,” praying right before mass on Sunday.

So, I’m not a practicing Catholic. In fact, I have not practiced in years. It’s one of the things my mom struggles with on a daily basis, especially on days like yesterday. She was visiting me over the weekend and I took her to one of the local catholic churches so she could attend mass.  During the service, I don’t do “stuff.” You know? The sign of the cross, the prayers, COMMUNION(!). But I smile. I smile a lot. However, my mom feels solely responsible for my own personal decision to not practice. But can you blame her?  I mean, she is the tortilla lady.

But she’s not to blame for my decision. In fact, if there is one thing that I love the most about my mom, it is her faith. She has an unwavering faith in God and despite my own personal thoughts about the Roman Catholic Church, I can’t, nor could I ever, question her faith.  Too much has happened to her for me to be so insensitive and self-righteous.

When the face of Jesus appeared on the tortilla that morning of October 5, 1977, my mom was facing some really tough challenges and perhaps was inching towards complete and utter hopelessness.  Through our conversations about this experience, she says that not only did she deal with depression, anxiety and malnutrition, but she also had to deal with my dad’s alcoholism, which was at its peak during that time. By 1977, my parents had been married for twenty years and for every one of those years, my mom was not only sick, but my dad drank heavily and was verbally abusive.  For a woman facing these challenges and then to have the publicity of a “jesus tortilla” on her plate (no pun intended), it wasn’t easy.

So while the rest of the world makes fun of this woman and her “jesus tortilla,” I gotta say, it was the tortilla that could have potentially saved her life. Not the tortilla per se, because that’s. just. weird. Instead, while the idea may sound ridiculous to many of you, her faith, in general, was in jeopardy and this “tortilla” was a sign that she needed to hold on. Just a little bit longer.

On Sunday, as I glanced over at my mom during mass, I couldn’t help just stare at her as she worshipped. Despite my own personal feelings and beliefs, I think about what the world would look like if each and every one of us had even an ounce of my mom’s faith. Would we be better off?

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments