The Abuela’s Skeleton
A poor family once lived close to Lago de Patzcuaro, farming beans, corn and squash. There was a wife, her husband, her mother and her small son. The boy was especially fond of his grandmother (abuela) and he was the apple of her eye. They would often pick wildflowers together or go down to the lake shore and watch the boats on the water. When nights got cold, the grandmother would sit her grandson on her knee, wrap him up tight in her red and green shawl and sing him to sleep.
When the boy was around ten years old his grandmother died. Every day he would walk to the cemetery and visit her grave, telling her his problems and anything that was on his mind. As the boy grew into a man his visits to his grandmother’s grave continued and his parents began to pressure him to find a wife.
One day his father introduced him to a young woman, the daughter of a family friend. She was young and pretty but the man wasn’t sure if he should marry her or not. He went to his abuela’s grave and told her the problem before returning home thinking no more of it.
That night he was woken by a woman’s voice calling his name. He sleepily went outside to investigate and found a grinning skeleton dressed in women’s clothes. When he noticed his grandmother’s green and red shawl he knew he didn’t need to be afraid. “You shouldn’t marry the girl,” said the skeleton abuela “for if you do you will soon be a widower.” With these words she turned and walked away.
The next morning the man told his father he wouldn’t marry the girl. His father was angry but agreed to help his son find a different wife. Some weeks later the girl caught a fever and was dead a few days later. The man’s father soon introduced his son to another girl. She was witty and beautiful and the man liked her. Remembering what happened before, however, he again went to his grandmother’s grave to ask her advice.
That night he was woken again by a woman’s voice calling his name. He went outside, and there, sure enough, was the skeleton abuela. “You shouldn’t marry this girl,” she told him “for if you do she will soon be a widow.” With these words she turned and walked away.
The next morning the son told his father he wouldn’t marry the girl. His father was angry and told his son he would have to find his own wife now. The girl married another but within a few days her husband was shot dead by a jealous rival suitor.
The son, with no idea how to find a wife, went once more to ask his grandmother’s advice. That night he was woken by the familiar voice calling his name. He went outside and saw the skeleton abuela. “Listen,” she said “do you hear singing? Follow it and you will find the girl you should marry.” Instead of turning and walking off she watched as her grandson followed the heavenly voice. As he neared the lake shore he saw a beautiful mestizo girl brushing her long dark hair as she sang. Seeing him she smiled and blushed.
They were married soon after. Though he continued to visit his grandmother’s grave the man never saw the skeleton abuela again.
By Adriana Aguirre-Santos