Constanza and her family have been friends of ours since we’ve been visiting Mexico. Constanza is a very kind, and generous person. She has a spark about her that always seems to see the positive side of things and to enjoy life even when things get difficult for her. She is shy and lives a quiet life. She works hard for her job in education and lives by herself. She is the youngest daughter of her family. Her mother is dead and her father is in his 80’s and needs her support frequently. Her name suits her very well, Constanza means steadfast in English.
Constanza also has a brother named, Dante who seems to be drifting through his life. He is a very tall, thin person. He has a mellow voice. He has been divorced from his wife for a while. He had not been living with his wife and children for several years before the divorce. I don’t know that he’s ever lived with his wife. You never know from one culture to the next what is polite to ask and this was one of those things that I sensed might bring up some buried emotion in either his ex-wife or him. I have been told that Dante is gay, but who knows? People have their secrets which they don’t share until they are ready and sometimes never. Currently, he has been with another woman who is struggling with cancer. He lives with his father and even though he is living with his father, It is still considered Constanza’s responsibility as the youngest daughter to take care of him and she did this freely.
Constanza visited us last summer for a week. While she was here, her brother called her to tell her that her father was sick. It was as if, he could not cope or didn’t want to help a parent who was ill. He was looking to Constanza to make decisions when she was a thousand miles from home. She was obviously upset by Dante’s phone call but what could she do? She buried the thoughts. She did her best to enjoy her time and called home a few more times before she returned to Mexico.
This year, when we visited we had one wonderful day together. Constanza drove us to Guanajuato. Guanajuato is a beautiful colonial city and site of what was once one of the richest silver mines in the world. The city is filled with narrow alleys, colorful buildings, tunnels, and colonial architecture. It is also a cultural gem where each year artists from around the world perform in recitals, concerts, plays, ballets, modern dance, and exhibit art. The day here was indescribable. I was really overwhelmed by all the beauty of this city and it’s offerings. It was so totally unexpected. Constanza seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself as well. She was like a bird, happy, excited, and flitting from one striking trinket that caught her eye to another.
We didn’t see Constanza for several days after we returned to Querétaro. One day, we accidentally ran into her on the street. She was returning from a lunch break and entering her work building. After our normal round of hugs and greetings, she told us that her father was sick. There had been a chest cold going around where people were sick for a while but it didn’t seem to be anything to be concerned about. Constanza’s brother had been sick with a similar cold the week before. She was also worried about her father’s health care. She was thinking it was time for him to be placed into a nursing home where he could have more consistent and constant care. It was then that her face changed, lines formed around her eyes and she took on a very tense look. She said in words that lost all their vibrancy, “My brother has taken all my father’s money. This money my father saved all his life. It was to help us pay for his care.” When I heard these words, I swear my heart stopped beating for a moment. How do you respond? What do you do? “I’m so sorry.” seems so woefully inadequate. Yet, those were the words that were uttered by our group of friends. It was lunch time and Constanza had to return to her job. It was as if she was grateful for this because she could leave these problems behind. Her work, had become a distraction from the real world.
We didn’t see Constanza much after that. I know her time was being occupied by her ailing father. Her brother called us a few times on the telephone but somehow it was always inconvenient for us to meet.
The day we returned to the United States, we heard from Constanza. Her father had died. Perhaps, for her, she no longer needed to worry about what her brother had done. Perhaps, it was a release for her that her father had died and she no longer had the responsibilities which she once shouldered. Perhaps, she can live with all that had happened. Perhaps, she can find peace.