Sunday, November 20, 2011
KEEPING TRACK OF DEATHS
This is a list of (mostly) deaths of people connected with my family, from late 1963 till late 1965, so for about 2 years. It was written in Chamorro (except for the dates, oddly enough) by my grandmother's sister, Rita Perez Torres, who never married. We all called her Nina, because she was godmother to a whole bunch of people.
Nina didn't speak much English. But she could read and write Chamorro, as you can see. She was also one hard-core Catholic. She was the Mother Superior, really, of the family, though my grandmother was the oldest and had the power to veto Nina's decisions if necessary.
Nina made sure that all the deaths of relatives and family friends were recorded on this paper, even the amount of ika, or funeral donation, given.
In the Chamorro way, she lists people sometimes by their better-known-as (Titires, Pedan, Aliag, Makaka) or by a second person (usually a spouse or parent) such as "Marian Petra" or "Jesusan Tomas."
The list has a few wedding dates and a birth.
Speaking little English, when Nina worked, it was in the public school cafeteria and she was home by mid afternoon. She was the heart of the family, while the others went to their 8-5 jobs. She cooked, cleaned and washed - and made sure everyone practiced the Catholic faith daily. And this list shows that she thought that the deaths and other big events in people's lives were very important to remember. She kept people's death anniversaries this way, including them in her many, daily prayers. Makes me proud. This is virtue.