11.26.2008

Maria

Today I drove home in a deep funk from Discovery Bay's Thanksgiving celebration, where I had been one of two Mommies responsible for the "Party." I'm just not cut out for this, I thought. I can direct a board meeting for dozens of high-ranking corporate types; I can balance an out-of-whack budget and explain it; I can ask the super wealthy to make just one more gift. But I can't figure out how to be a Room Mother. My Corn Bread Madeleines were too crumbly (and made a mess) and my Ginger Spice Cookies with hand-grated nutmeg were simply not chocolate chip.

I bumped along the Dump Road feeling sorry for myself and homesick, and sorry for my kids that they didn't have my Mother for their Mother, and lugging a large tupperware of corn bread and spice cookie leftovers.

And then I saw her. The pregnant mother of so many children that I recently wrote about, whose family has just moved to a larger home they built by hand on the side of the road.

I stiffled my tears and stopped the car, leaving Delaney and Hayden sleeping inside. I grabbed the tupperware of goodies and walked across the road, looking squarely into the astonished faces of this woman and her brood. "I'm Alecia," I said, and held out my hand. "Maria," she said in response with a toothless smile.

I tried to say that maya ninos (gemelos, dos anos) vamos a escuela each day, and hoy a celebration, so por favor, cookies y pan de maiz para usted.

She seemed to understand, and eagerly grabbed a ginger cookie. I held the tray out to each child surrounding her, and each little hand eagerly grabbed one and gobbled it up. They looked at me with huge curiosity written all over dirt-smudged faces.

Though it's kind of a blur, I'm guessing there were three girls, about three, five and seven, and two boys, maybe two and four. I think there was an older child too, maybe ten. "Muchos ninos," I said with a laugh. Maria laughed too, and said "Diaz Ninos, y un otro," pointing to her belly. I thrust the entire pan into her hands and said I'd pick it up another time.

Gracias, adios, etc. we said and I scooted back to the idling car.

And now I know. Her name is Maria, and she likes cookies.

Anything else we can give her and her kids will be icing on the cake.

Happy Thanksgiving, from Roatan.