Fourth of July can mean a lot of things. It can mean our nation's independence, it can mean hot dogs, beer, swimming and bar b q's and it can mean fireworks. But, to me, above all else, it will always mean my Tia Cuca's birthday.
Now, don't get me wrong, upon instinct, if someone says "the fourth of July" I'm naturally inclined to think "independence day". But, part of me still thinks otherwise. There's a part of me that ignores the trivial blind patriotism, the fireworks and the bbq's and reflects on an older time. A part of me always thinks back to my Tia Cuca and my Tio Pablo, both huge parts of my growing up.
Now, when most people say "growing up" they mean getting older in age. Growing up, to me, in this instance, is much different. When I state that Tia Cuca and Tio Pablo helped me grow up I mean that they helped me become the person I am today. They helped shaped my ideals, my habits, my sense of right and wrong. They helped shaped what I believed a person should be.
Growing up, Tia Cuca wasn't at first, my favorite aunt--as a matter of fact, she wasn't technically my aunt. She was my dad's aunt. So, she was my great-aunt. We would always visit Tio Pablo and Tia Cuca at her house close by Nixon. We'd visit her perfectly arranged living room, take drinks from her spotless kitchen, and play in the clutter free back yard. Yes, Tia Cuca was a no-nonsense kind of woman. She had expectations of us as children and we better meet them if we were at her house or she was going to let us know about it. Now, that isn't to say that she was mean to us by any means. That's the thing about Tia Cuca she was always so pleasant, even at times when she was at her sternest and she'd be lecturing me, she was never scary. She never raised her voice. Never yelled at us.
I remember Tia Cuca for many reason, that I'll go into in detail in a bit. But the main thing I remember her for, aside from being a loving human being, was the discipline that she instilled in me as a child. There were many times when I was acting like a brat and Tia Cuca would pull me aside and talk to me like an adult and explain why what I was doing was wrong and how I should act to make my mom and dad's life easier and to be a better person. It is for this that I am eternally grateful for. She taught me patience and respect and these are lessons that I still carry with me to this day. TBC