Remembering Family Through Humor

A good sense of humor is a quality that I look for in people. My sense of humor has always been outrageous and if you have been keeping up with my posts then you know first hand how true this is. I try to see the humor in everything really, but where did this come from? Has it been passed down through generations of family or was it a few specific family members that led the way? I think my entire family has a good sense of humor but there were a few people that really stood out. They helped mold my humor into what it is today. The two people I want to talk about are my Abuela (grandmother) Jimenez and my Tia (aunt) Paula. Both of these beautiful and humorous women made my family and I laugh constantly. It didn’t matter what was going on, they could turn it into a laugh fest. They were full of life and looked beyond the drama. This is what I loved about them.

My granny lived with my family and I from the time I was born and up until I graduated high school. There were little things she used to do that was hilarious and I think she got a kick out of our reactions. For example, my parents would head out for a church meeting and sometimes they wouldn’t return until 9 or 10pm. She knew that my parents wanted us in bed early but she would let us stay awake anyway. As soon as she heard them pull in she would yell at us to run and get into bed. I remember being startled many times and I would push my siblings out of the way so that I could get into bed first. As we ran to safety I could hear granny laughing her butt off at the sight of our panic. There were times where we would be raising hell and she would warn us a few times before saying something to the effect of, “It’s out of my hands” but in spanish. She was funny like that. If we learned a lesson the hard way she would make sure to remind us how we got to that point. On top of that, she really knew how to scare the little kids and I think she enjoyed doing it. Back when we were growing up my granny would buy a pig head in order to make tamales. I remember coming home from school one day and my sibling and cousins who accompanied us were griping about something. My granny must have had a hard day because she immediately told the younger kids that if they didn’t stop arguing that the “Pig Head” was going to get them in their sleep. I knew better and chuckled but the younger kids got quiet. After a bit they started up again and granny brought them into the kitchen and opened up the fridge to reveal a large pig head. They would scream and I think one of them even cried and granny had to hold back from laughing. I remember her yelling for them to behave. I would tell her that she was wrong and she would shrug her shoulders and continue making tortillas.

It’s hard to think of everything she did because there was so much. I also remember when I lived with my family in Florida and she would joke about hitting me. Now, at this time my granny was in her early 80’s. She would be in the kitchen making tortillas and I would walk in and jab her side. She would immediately throw up her rolling pin in defense and tell me that she would hit me if I did it again. I would laugh it off like a little kid and I would do it again. She gave me one final warning and on the third jab I got slapped in the arm and face with a towel that she picked up without me noticing. She would laugh and laugh and tell me that I deserved it and I did but it was so much fun to heckle her because she fought right back. She didn’t take crap from anyone. Another person who had a take no crap attitude while keeping her sense of humor was my Tia Paula. This women cracked me up like you wouldn’t believe. I mean, she used to call me huesos which is spanish for bones because I was so skinny when I was a kid. How could someone not laugh at that? She also called me “Caldo” which is a soup that has little meat, some veggies, and a bone for flavor. The dig on me referenced the fact that I was full of water combined with a little meat and bones like Caldo. She used to scare my younger cousins with the pig head like granny but she also used something that creeps me out even now. She used the ever popular Pennywise The Clown from Stephen King’s IT. I’m sure my cousins remember that clown and my Tia never called him by his name, she simply called him a payaso, which is clown in spanish.

“If you don’t settle down, the payaso is going to get you! You want me to put it on so you can see him?”

She used to yell that to the little kids when they were naughty. It was funny to hear her do this because you could tell that she wanted to laugh once the kids got scared. Now I know It seems harsh and cruel but it worked. It’s pretty funny when I look back at it now. My granny and Tia Paula would tell it like it is because there was no room for beating around the bush. If we were going to get hurt by doing something we were not supposed to they would tell us and with detail. It really made us think about what the consequences would be if we continued to jump around and act up. I do this now and it’s funny to see the reaction on my sons face. I don’t use the pig head or the payaso but I use detail to let his little mind imagine how bad the consequences can be if he doesn’t listen and behave. This is done with humor and I can thank my granny and Tia for it. Sadly, they have passed on but it’s their humor that sticks with my family and I. My Tia’s all have a piece of my granny with them and I see her humor come out in them at times. It’s something I love to witness because I can seem my granny in them. My Tia Paula has three children who are older than me but they all took care of me at one time or another because I was always with them. My Tia loved and spoiled me. I like to think of my relation to my cousins as the little brother they never wanted. I say this as a joke but seriously, they probably saw more of me than they wanted to back then. I try to visit them as much as I can because their humor is exactly like my Tia’s. The humor is crass, outrageous, and off the wall, just like my Tia. It’s why I love to be in their presence and I see her in all three of them. Thank you Abuela Jimenez and Tia Paula for always being you. Thank you for molding my personality and my sense of humor. You taught me that no matter how bad a situation can be, there is always a way to keep a smile on my face. Although I want to cry as I think about the both of you, I will do what you taught me. I will simply laugh…


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