So, one of National Blog Post Month’s daily prompts is “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry…for tomorrow we die. The world is ending tomorrow! Tell us about your last dinner”. And today is All Saint’s Day. Combining the two was the first thing that popped into my head.
The gathering of the saints would take place at my home, not because it’s heavenly, but because I want to cook for all the people that provided for me in the past. I would make a pernil, with a crunchy cuerito for Papa Jose, because he’s the one who taught me how to make it crunchy in the first place. Fried chicken for Mama Maria, because people have compared my chicken to hers, and because as a celestial being her diabetes would have no bearing on her current diet. Guelita Ernestina gets some of my delicious beans. As a working woman, she only had time to make canned beans, and quite honestly they were the best. For Guelito Paco, I would make the rice in a caldero so that there would be pega’o for him to mix with milk. As a child, I watched him eat this after dinner every night with a sense of awe and revulsion. For Tio Junior, I would attempt to make his special coquito, just because his recipe is world famous (ok, it’s really Bronx-famous but as a kid the Bronx was my world). Titi Ana gets to try my first attempt at making her alcapurria. I’ll even put in olives, so they will look like hers, and then pick them out of mine, just like I always did. For Titi Indiana, it would be a tossup between making steaks or lasagna. I actually learned how to make steaks like hers, but I never did perfect her lasagna, platanos and all. Debbie, of course, loved my lasagna, so I guess it would have to be on the menu.
Papa Chago would come with a pocket of black pennies, knowing that I was the only one who never complained about pennies without a shine; he and Alejandro would joke about my Spanish although I’m hoping that I would make them both proud that I’m better now, than I was as a kid. I kiss and caress Mama Crispa’s cheek, just like I always did, amazed that her parchment-like skin was so soft. Tio Chago would frown and light a cigarette as he sat down to watch a ballgame with Tio Guillo, he of the twinkling green eyes. Tio Carlos, also known as Billy, would show up sweaty after having played a game of stickball. Who knew they played stickball in heaven?!
In a corner of the dining room, Danny and Alicia are rolling a ball between them. Taken from our arms before we barely knew them, they are our tiny angels.
The room is absolutely silent while we eat, a true testament to the dinner I made. From time to time, I hear a sigh or a quiet “Hmm”; I know it’s because we’re all together again. Food always tastes better when we are with family. The Bible promises that we will recognize our loved ones once we ascend, but my family has come to my home in the bodies I know.
Once dinner is done, I pass out flan, brandy, Rheingolds, and cafe colado, and we settle in for a bit of conversation. I fill in everyone on the happenings with the family. The grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren they never got to meet. How well they are doing. What schools they are attending, who is married, who is divorced, and who is working where. The dinner guests who passed in their old age, appear content. Almost as if they are happy that the seed they planted took root in their descendants. Those who passed without seeing their children come of age, sigh because they are now aware that those that took their place, those who became a father or mother to their children, did a good job.
I’m almost afraid to ask the question that has been on my mind as I cooked. What is heaven like? This is the last day of life as we know it. What should I be expecting? Do I need to delete my computer search history? There isn’t any porn there, I promise. I haven’t been a perfect person, but I rely on the grace of God everyday. My life choices haven’t been the same as the ones my dinner guests would have chosen for me. They all wanted me to be happy with my life, and I assure them that I have been, despite setbacks and heartache. Titi Indiana, heaven’s most recent resident, reassures me with a tight hug and a whisper in my ear, “You will be fine, mi’ja. Just follow my lead”. Debbie pops me on the arm and tells me to stop being a wuss. Miss Badass until the end, I guess. I’ve missed her.
It’s the last night of earthly existence. There will be no dishes washed. There will only be gossip, ballgames, and lucha libre. There will be hugs and soft kisses on cheeks. We already know that tomorrow we will all be together. Together with those we discussed tonight. Together with those we haven’t seen for a while. Together with those we haven’t spoken with lately. Together.