Sunday’s were the days for
visitors. Not every Sunday either. When company was expected mommy always knew and was up very early cleaning the house. By the time it was 10am the house smelled of King Pine and 3 Kings incense. She would still be playing the folk songs that were heavy in conga rhythms while cooking us a late breakfast. When we finished we knew the living room was off limits. Mommy left the front door open and always knew when someone would be coming way before they walked to the 4th floor.
The guest would greet mommy with a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread as payment for her time. Mommy specialized in babies. Passing her hands over whatever part of their body ailed them. All this with just a candle, prayer and olive oil. By the time she was done she would hand over a baby that no longer cried, ached or was ill.
All on the block knew of mommy-Doña Rosa. She had a way of looking at you and you knew she saw past you. Once mommy gave you that stare there was nothing you were able to hide. Your secrets were bare. Easy for her to tell you about yourself. The best times were when she was sipping her beer, smoking her cigarette while looking out the window. The elders on the block would go and speak to mommy in hopes that she would give them insight into their lives. The thing was that mommy was picky who she spoke to on that level. She hated to waste those words of wisdom on deaf ears. Mommy never was bothered of the word Bruja or curandera. She embraced it. It was a deeply rooted part of her that came with her unwillingly from Puerto Rico. She knew that there was a purpose and that there was a responsibility to her family because of it.