There’s something that I’ve always loved about being the daughter of a North Carolinian and a Californian. One side of my family comes from a tobacco farming heritage and the family tree has been planted firmly in the same area of North Carolina since coming across from England in the 1700s (true story). The other side of my family come from Mexico and every story of the past seems like something ripped straight from a John Wayne film or an episode of Bonanza. The two sides could not be any more different, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. A mixture of East and West.
Last week, I spent about three days in California with my family as we laid my Grandmother to rest. It was definitely a bittersweet trip due to the circumstances of our visit, but it was still so good to see cousins, aunts, and uncles that we haven’t seen in far too long. It didn’t hurt that the rain when we first arrived washed out the smog for a bit and gave us clear views of the snow-capped San Bernardino Mountains.
Southern California has significantly more Hispanic individuals than North Carolina does, so I love that there are taco shops, restaurants, and Mexican bakeries literally on every corner. We stopped at two of our favorite panaderias for some treats; one that is up the road from my late aunt’s house and another that is across the way from the site of my family’s “corral” (where all the cowboy stories originated) and where one of the workers on a previous visit actually remembered my Grandpa from when he used to stop in. I wish you could bottle the smell in this place.
One of the best moments from the day of my grandmother’s funeral was meeting her younger sister for the first time. I did a double take when she walked in because she looks so much like my grandmother did when she was in better health. Then she began speaking and she even sounded like her. It was oddly comforting to meet this woman for the first time and to have her remind me so much of my grandmother and I’m grateful that God allowed that moment to happen.
We also finally snapped a picture of all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of my Grandma and Grandpa. They had five granddaughters and seven great-children, only one of them a girl. It’s always so comical to see how much I do not look like the rest of my cousins, aside from the hair color.