I cannot believe that it’s time for Día de los Muertos again! The past year has gone by so quickly. Of course, the bakery is busy selling sugar skulls and pan de muerto, so even though we are living in our new apartment, Mama and Papa and I are working at the bakery through the holiday. Carlos and Gabriella still need to hire new people to help them.
The beds are full at Señora del Campo’s house. The already-huge kitchen is being added on to, with more room for bread ovens and work tables. Bernadette and Tomas and Papa are constantly discussing how to fit in both baking and cooking classes, where the customers will sit, the hours we will be open, even the color of napkins we will use. The children are everywhere, running up and down the stairs, laughing, talking, singing, arguing. Sometimes we don’t know if there is more dust or flour in the air, with all that is going on at the same time! But one rap of the señora‘s cane on the floor and everyone is quiet, Diary; she is truly the head of this household.
Last night, I helped Mama make calabaza en tacha—sugared pumpkin—as a treat for Señora del Campo.
“The señora seems sad about the coming holiday,” she said. “I think she hides an old, secret sorrow.”
Now, this is strange, Diary, because you know I saw that sadness in Señora del Campo’s face before.
So this afternoon, when the señora asked me to go somewhere with her, I said yes. We got into her big black car with Tomas, who always drives. I was surprised to see that the señora had a bouquet of marigolds on her lap, and even more surprised when we stopped at the cemetery. Slowly, she made her way down the path until she stopped by a group of graves. Near them was the statue of a beautiful angel with her arms held out; beneath her feet, the stone had the name “del Campo” carved on it. The señora lay her marigolds on top of a grave with the name “Victor del Campo.”
“He was my son,” she told me. “He was very young when he got into trouble. He ran away and started living on the streets, addicted to drugs. He was even arrested for stealing, though I would have given him money, jewelry—anything—if he’d only come home and asked. He died of a drug overdose at 17.”
“Señora...” I said, but she shook her head.
“Your family thinks I am a generous woman, Consuelo—but really, I am quite selfish. I have a reason for helping your street children.” She nodded at the grave. “It is Victor. He died and I could do nothing. I failed him, and I drove my daughter away with my grief. Maybe I can keep what happened to him from happening to others.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I reached out and took her hand. She sighed and asked me to pull a little weed growing on his grave. I did, and we turned away.
“You’re a good girl, Consuelo. I wonder if you realize what you’ve done? Your mother tells me that feeding the children was your idea, back in the beginning. Now look what it’s turned into!” She smiled as we walked to the car. “I have my daughter back, and a new family around me, and a school, and the delicious smells of cooking and baking instead of an empty old house.”
“So maybe you will not be so sad anymore?” I asked her.
“I think you may be right.” She stopped and leaned on her cane. “We need a name for our school, you know. Do you have any ideas?”
I thought for a long moment. “Well, I used to dream about opening a café for the street children. I wanted to name it after my grandmother, because I loved her so much.”
“What was your grandmother’s name?” asked the señora.
“Rosa,” I told her.
Señora del Campo blinked and looked at me. A tiny smile curved her lips. “That is my name, also.”
When she said that, Diary, it was as if my grandmother hugged me. I felt a great happiness. “Then we can use the name I always dreamed about,” I said. “Los Niños de Rosa. Rosa’s Children. For both the Rosa’s—my grandmother and you.”
“Perfect!” she replied. “Gracias, Consuelo.”
And we went home to eat dinner with the family.
(Note: This is the end of Consuelo’s diary. Look for other Consuelo stories in the future.)