My neighbor e-mailed the other day, “This looks like a miracle. You found a guy you like and actually have some respect for.” The miracle is my thirty-four-year-old Mexican worker who helps me on my ranch. I live with animals out of love and to keep fit. As a former dancer I know the importance of exercise and have been practicing yoga since moving to Baja to build strength, stretch and work on balance.
This miracle’s features show a strong Indian background, from his bent hook nose that cuts sharply in at his brow to his dark olive complexion and big African-American looking lips. He speaks a word or two of English and although I’ve learned to string a few words together in Spanish, we find hand gestures work fine. He’s macho in the best sense, quiet and caring and totally in charge. I’ve been on duty long enough. I sit back and let him take the wheel. An honorable young man, a friend–he reminds me of the son I lost.
Working for twelve years in a restaurant, he cooks spicy, tasty Mexican dishes every evening, chopping vegetables, making fresh salsa, washing up and vacuuming while I sit at my computer doing research and writing. He laughs easily, plays with my four dogs, throws them kernels of popcorn he’s created as a snack before dinner and drives me around in my Matrix or his Cherokee, while I watch life flying by beyond the windows. Riding in his old Jeep is like being a teenager again strapped into a roll coaster. I can’t stop laughing.
His seven-year-old son visits on weekends. The boy lives with his mother and seven older half-sisters. As an only son he’s considered special and is like the grandson I never had. I’ve been teaching him the soul-train handshake, I taught the LA Knockers forty years ago. Follow these instructions in italics and try it: #1. Grab your partners shoulder and hip,#2 Then grab your partners opposite shoulder and hip, #3 Slap each others hands – your right hand palm down and left palm up, #4. Turn your hands over and slap each others hands, #5& Double clap each others hands, #6& Double clap right hands front then back, #7& Using the back of your hand double clap your lifted left knee, #8& Partner turns hands behind back, double clap his hands, #9& Turn and your partner double claps your hands, #1-2 Face partner, circle right hands pull back and #3-4 clasp each others hands in a hand shake. Both bow in different directions to the applause.
In the video on my home page you can see parts of the handshake…. #’s 44, 118, 134.
Yesterday it was bitterly cold. My friend doesn’t have running water and took a shower at my house. I brought out my hair dryer anxious to dry his thick black Indian hair before he ran into the night air. My mother warned about catching a cold outside with a wet head, and it is flu season. It turned into a screaming uproar as I chased him around my dinning table in the front room in a fit of giggles., the loose plug of the dryer swinging to and fro.
It’s been a good two years having a friend around to help me while I finished The Philosopher’s Daughter, a memoir. The night I keyed in my last period I walked him to the front door to say thank you and goodnight. I’d come to the end of a twenty year journey writing my memoir. My book was finished — I’d given my son his voice… I was moving on amazed by life’s gifts.