Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

March 17, 2002

Don Pabuch

I still to this day, have no idea what anyone’s name is in this family, even though I regularly visit them and pass by their house all the time. The mother is a fantastic hammock weaver and huipil embroiderer, and the father a very gentle soul, but tough campesino. They have three older children, a grand collection of turkeys, and a couple of dogs. And life for them all beats on everyday as does the rhythm of the surrounding jungle. But one afternoon when Dawn and I stopped by to hand out some lollipops, the flawless cycle had seemingly ended.

The mother was the only one home, and when I jovially asked her how things were going with everyone, she replied in a very soft-toned, sort of sad voice. She said that things hadn’t been going too well, that her husband had recently been suffering from some severe stomach pains, … and now he’s gone. Well I became instantly very quiet of course, and was to say the least, quite surprised hearing news like that. I took off my hat, scratched my head, and disbelievingly said to her, “He’s gone?” And she said, “Si.” So, I gave the newly widowed a long consoling hug, and then Dawn and I left. “Holy shit!” I said to Dawn, “that guy was really cool, and then just like that, … now he’s dead.”

Once back at our house, Dawn and I searched hard through our supply of toys and gift items that we always have compiled for village giveaway fun, and came upon a very nice cross chain necklace. The next day, we returned to the home of the deceased and presented it to his survived wife. I gave a little impromptu speech as part of the token bestowal, and talked about how great a man he was, and that he was for sure now in an even better and more wonderful place. And that she and her children were so very lucky to have had him as theirs, and that he will never be forgotten.

Well, she just seemed so happy and thrilled with receiving her touching gift, and was visually moved by my passionate words of caring and praise for her lost beloved. And then just when I was about to shed a tear or two more in his blissful memory, a figure appeared through the front door of the na carrying an axe and a large bundle of firewood on his back. “Roberto,” he said, “Ba’ax ka’walik?” (“What’s happening?” in Maya).

Well, … as if I had been surprised before with the learning of his death, I was now in a state of absolute mystification that his sweaty hand was now vigorously shaking mine. “You’re back!” I said. “Claro (of course),” he said. “And how are you feeling?” I asked. “Great!” he replied, “I had an intestinal problem for a little while there, but now I’m fine.” Dawn and I had some serious wide-eyed silent stares at each other for a least a few stunned minutes, and then I just felt so stupid and embarrassed, that I excused ourselves and we stumbled out onto the street to try and decipher what had possibly gone so terribly wrong.

Apparently, there’d been a communication breakdown, something misinterpreted and misunderstood during the speaking of a language (Spanish) that is both a second language for me, and the gal who’d miraculously just gotten her husband back from the dead. It seems, that when the mother said that her husband had been suffering from severe stomach pains and now “is gone”, she didn’t mean that he went to heaven, but to the milpa. And no wonder she was so ecstatic with her fine cross gift necklace.

Don “Reborn”, as he’s known to Dawn and I now, recently proved on his 50th birthday, that he’s is not only well and definitely alive, but can still dig a giant hole in the ground. As part of a slowly catching on idea in the village these days, people are beginning to imagine that sitting on a toilet may be more comfortable than squatting on the ground to go to the bathroom. It’s all a matter of having a little extra money to buy the building materials for a small one-room concrete block outhouse and some pipe, and then having the muscle to dig the septic tank (a hole) that goes with it.

Doña Widow was so impressed with her husband’s brute force display, and because it was his birthday, she made a special dinner for him, called mechado. She first barbequed a turkey, and then threw it in a pot with red onions, garlic, garbanzo beans, a few raisins, and water, and then just let the soup-type dish simmer over the fire for a few hours. Unfortunately, it will probably take Don Reborn at least several months to build his family’s bathroom, and until then, everyone will just have to go as before. Interesting though, because I know of several homes where bathrooms have finally been built, where the elders of the household refuse to use them, and still always go outside. Hard habits I guess.

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