Church was pretty interesting as the pastor described how he witnessed his grandfather’s 50th anniversary as pastor in a ceremony that took place at some building on the outskirts of town. Now, as he’d become a pastor himself, his wife found a box of pictures as she was going through their annual spring cleaning. He decided to take a look before throwing them away to realize… that the building where his grandfather used to preach was the same building where he was standing right now, twenty-three years later! I thought that was amazing, completely oblivious that God had told me that story to prepare me for what was about to happen to me.
I had gone to a routine car inspection maybe 12 years ago. I was attended to by a man who handed me his business card. I looked at it and exclaimed, “That’s my father’s second last name! Maybe we’re related!” This last name is very popular though, so this might have been just a coincidence. We promised to stay in touch, but you know how that goes. In the meantime, he told his mother, who lives in Colombia, that he had met me.
Now in 2018, I am at the first Peruvian Festival ever done in this city. I’m strolling around when somebody calls out my name! When I turn, I see an old woman who speaks to me in Spanish. She tells me about my father, my uncle, all my aunts and cousins. She remembers taking care of me when I was little, she tells me who’s sick, who died, who moved, who’s had surgeries. She talks about my grandparents, their close relatives…
“We are family?” I hug her excitedly. “But, how did you recognize me?”
I lift up my eyes. There is a man behind her that she introduces as her son. “Don’t you remember me?” he asks, flabbergasted. I can’t find a place in my memory for him. He tells me I had visited his business years ago to get my car inspected. I was astonished. There are no coincidences. This woman, whose name is Elisa, her son, and I were put in the right place at the right time. So, I was related to this man after all?
Elisa continues talking, saying she has always asked her son about me. However, if she took care of me when I was little, why didn’t I remember her? Why didn’t I have any evidence of her existence in my life? No pictures, no mention of her name, nothing! She seems to know everyone I knew when I was growing up, but where was she when my mind started creating permanent memories?
She continues talking and I am fascinated. I tell her “we” have family in NY, Washington DC, Atlanta, and that I have met all of them. “What is your last name?” I ask. “Lozano.”
-Oh, that is your father’s last name then. Your mother’s name is Murrain?
-Who are your grandparents? Sam and Ana? How are we related?
-Well, it’s not like that. What happens is…
-Are we cousins?
She is quiet and I start to become anxious.
-How are we related?
-You’re not going to believe it.
My friends approach and I introduce her, her son, and his wife as family. A singer is singing in the background. Suddenly the first notes of a cumbia song to which Eloisa and I scream at the same time.
-This is my song!
-¡Esta es mi canción!
She starts dancing, and with gracious cadence she stands in front of the singer. I go behind her, and everyone else at this huge place follows. That is amazing!! Her son is recording video and my friends and I are delighted. Then the singer sings another favorite and our conversation is temporarily suspended. At the end of her performance the singer speaks to the audience, but looking at Elisa, says, “You have to give me the secret of that energy!” And she asks everybody to clap for Elisa.
There is much more conversation going on with Elisa’s son and daughter in law. Then someone recognizes me from a newspaper article so I talk to this person, too. When I finally settle I look back at Elisa.
-If your last name is Lozano, who is Murrain in your family?
She stares at me as if she is trying to make me read her mind because words are too hard to be uttered.
-Ay, Dios mío, are you my mother?
She laughs nervously and looks at her son.
She clears her throat, “What happens is… I dated your father 50 years ago.”
I crack up without really thinking about what she has just said. You know, it’s hard to imagine my father dating before I was even a thought. But you could see it in her eyes. For a brief moment Elisa is 20 again… When I stop laughing there are so many questions I want to ask her. I suggest we meet after I return from my vacation overseas; but she’s going back to her hometown in 3 days. I give her ALL my contact information and she says she will stay in touch… But you know how that goes.