Thursday, February 14, 2008

There will be tamales in heaven

Today the mother of my best friend moved. Since the late 1950's she had lived in the same house on a quiet street in Orange, CA. There she reared 5 children and then cared for what seemed like an endless parade of grandkids. Even though most of them are now grown, too, they somehow show up for her Mexican cuisine, just dropping by whenever they're hungry. And amazingly she always seemed to have food on the table for them. How did she know they were coming?

Thirty five years ago I was a house guest for a couple weeks following my high school graduation. My family had moved back to Virginia the summer before. So right after graduation my sister and I flew back to California to spend the summer with friends. My first day back we went to the beach (of course) and I got a brutal sun burn on my legs. It was so bad that for 3 days I lived on Mrs. Z's living room recliner, only getting up to painfully walk the few steps to the head. I think she was the only one in the house who didn't laugh at me! And she gave up her chair for me. Whenever I look at my shins and see all those freckles, I think of Mrs. Z's chair.

After Gail and I were married we moved to that same town where we lived for the first 15 months of our life together. I will forever be indebted to Mrs. Z. Gail would go over to her house and she taught her how to make enchiladas, Spanish rice and the best refried beans in the world. Mrs. Z should have opened a Mexican restaurant like her brother Fidel. But she used her culinary skills to serve others. A few years ago our church worship team from NC attended a conference in CA, and Mrs. Z had us all over for dinner. Cooking was her gift to the body of Christ.

It will be hard to walk into that house on Sycamore and not see her puttering around in the kitchen. Her recliner will sit empty. But the lives she touched, the husband, children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are blessed to be her family, the friends at church and in the neighborhood have all lived fuller lives because of her quiet and humble influence.

Mrs. Z moved today from her home of 50 years to her home for eternity. She's with her Savior, whom she so looked forward to seeing for the first time. I don't know this for sure, but I feel rather confident that there will be tamales served at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Heaven. And I promise, you'll find me standing in that line.

Please, Lord, let her make her homemade salsa, too. You'll like it.


Anonymous said...

there comes a time in life when our parents get old and our friends parents die. its hard to deal with. my friend's dad died last week very suddenly and it has gotten me to think of my own father and want to be with him more and tell him i love him more because there might not be another tomorrow. please pray for my friend that God gives her strength to face the coming weeks and months.

Unknown said...

Praying for Mrs. Z, she sounds like a wonderful woman.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute for a women who clearly was a very special and wonderful woman. I will be praying for travel mercies for you as you go to conduct the funeral. I'm sure the family will have quite a celebration of life!

elj377 said...

A wonderful memory...I too have fond memories of people that are home with God. I am so thankful that I get too see them again!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tribute. I am sorry for your loss here on Earth....but I know you will see her again someday! I pray we can all have a Mrs. Z. in our lives...

Anonymous said...

We miss Nana but we know she is in heaven now.

Thanks this post made me smile

Rosi said...

What a wonderful post, Rick -- I didn't know Mrs. Z as well as you, but I definately think of her cooking when I think of her. I remember for Richard's 18th birthday she made Tamales... I had only had those tamales in the can up until that day, and frankly, wasn't thrilled with the idea of tamales because of it. But, oh, my !! The were so delicious, and I've never tasted a tamale that good since ... also remember enchiladas every Saturday after bus visitation. Yum! But what I remember most is how sweet her spirit was - there was something about her that drew you, her simple faith in Christ - she didn't complicate it with "religion" - if you know what I mean, both her and Mr. Z ... they just loved Jesus, and what better way to be remembered? By the way, I'll be right behind you in line at the the marriage supper!

Rick Lawrenson said...

Just for you, Rosi, I'll let you cut in front of me.

Bonnie said...

She taught me to cook my eggs with charizo and put salsa on them...
I'll be praying for Richard and Carol and the rest of the family.

Rick Lawrenson said...

The only thing she cooked that I politely declined (after a taste) was menudo. It wasn't so much the taste as the thought. For the same reason I declined some chitlins in VA years ago.

Lencho says it's what makes Mexican men so strong.

Scott said...

Great story Rick! I'm sorry about the empty chair and space but thankful for eternal life!

Anonymous said...

I love to read this post over as over again.
You did an awesome job at the service. I know
there will be tamales in heaven. Hers were the best
can't wait to have them again. Today I sat in that empty
recliner thinking that she is in heaven sitting in a recliener
next to god. My nana was truly a saint. I love and
miss her but cant wait to see her in heaven with
her new body, that is pain free oh that day
I can't wait.
audrey zazuetta