Momma was Always Dancing
That broom was her best suiter on Sunday Mornings. After Dad would leave to run errands, we could hear her humming to herself all her favorite Conjunto, Norteño and Tejano tunes. Daddy didn’t dance. As she rose early to sweep the house, she’d brush that broom sharply and swiftly as she moved her hips like only Latin women know how to do. In the 1970’s, I don’t believe there were FM/AM radio stations that played much Spanish music. But, Momma didn’t need it. It was in her head and her heart. Momma was always dancing.
As my eyes began to open from sleeping, I would hear her. I’d jump out of bed barefoot in my pajamas and sneak through the hall-way, plop myself down on the floor, just to watch her move from room to room. She’d always catch me and say “Mira Mija (Look My Daughter)…..come dance with me. This is cumbia”. A Mexican folk dance done with a partner. I’d scurry to her side, sliding my feet through the dust and dirt she had just swept up. Then she would show me how to stand in position, like we were partners. She played the man part. Then she would tell me what steps to take and how to move my hips and shoulders. Then she would do the dance to show me. My little stiff body would follow every move. I wanted so much to dance just like her.
Eight year old little girls believe that their mothers are princesses, ballerinas and the most beautiful girls in the whole wide world. I was exactly that way. No matter what Momma did, she always looked so beautiful to me. Even when she washed dishes, she looked beautiful. I’d sit at the kitchen table doing my homework and see her washing the dishes, singing the tunes she loved. And she would wash each dish so slowly, smoothly and with care as she sang. Her hands dancing gently and lovingly on each dish. Sometimes I wondered what she was thinking about as she stared so long into the bubbles in the sink.
My favorite part of the day was always when Daddy went to bed. I’d scurry down that same hall-way, checking to see if the coast was clear and I’d climb on the sofa beside her. She would pat her lap and I would lay my head there. We had a loving ritual where Momma would start at my head with circle movements, swift pulls and gentle scratches. It always felt like her fingers were dancing…..just like “Cumbia”. Then she’d reach into my pajama back and give me a nice back scratch. Back scratches were the best.
Momma is 77 now and she still listens to her music. In her room she dances, sings and shares her music on her facebook page with her sisters who are also cumbialeras. And as I sweep my own house I think of her and smile. Momma is still dancing. I love you Momma. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.