|Gil Sr., Isabella, Grandma Rise, Carin and Bea|
Grandma Rise turned 91 today – a year after she lost a bet in which she wagered that she wouldn’t make it to 90. Last year, not long after she made her new home at a rehab center in Albuquerque, my grandma turned 90 and joked about how she lost a $5 bet with her daughter, Martha. Often fatalistic about her future, Grandma Rise never thought she would live to see old age, much less find herself still placing bets in her 90s. But she made it to 90, and now 91, and there are no signs of slowing down.
Grandma Rise is the nickname for my paternal grandmother, who I’ve always known as Grucella Gallegos. Her maiden name is DeTevis, and I was puzzled when I first started my genealogy research and looked for her name in the 1920 baptismal records for Our Lady of Sorrows in Las Vegas. It took some time, but I eventually found it – Maria Riselda, born Jan. 9, 1921, baptized Jan. 23, 2011, and the daughter of Antonio DeTevis and Emilia Alire. Her padrinos were Luis Lorenzo and Rosa Alire.
I asked my grandma about the name Riselda, and why she went by Grucella. She said a teacher told her one day when she was a young girl that there was no such name as Riselda. So, from then on, my grandma went by Grucella.
As for the exact date of her birthday, that’s always been a question mark. For as long as I can remember, she celebrated on Jan. 2, even if that wasn’t quite right. Now that I’ve found her baptismal record, it’s safe to say that her actual birthday is on the 9th. But why worry about that now? If I were to mention it to her now, she would probably want to make a $5 bet.
We had to cancel our little birthday celebration with grandma earlier today because some of our cousins had already taken her some cupcakes. As my daughters are always quick to remind me, we have to be careful about the food and snacks that we take to grandma because she has diabetes and always has to watch her glucose levels. So, the cake will wait until next week. Instead, we decided to get her some menudo from El Modelo.
When we took her the menudo, she was very excited and bragged to one of her buddies that she was going to have a good dinner tonight. It also reminded her of a story that she had told us before, but one that I never get tired of hearing.
There was a meat market that I remember near my great-grandparents’ home on New Mexico Avenue in Las Vegas. Grandma Rise said they used to sell tripe, or menudo, for 50 cents at that market. But you had to clean it yourself. One time, my Grandpa Carlos was cleaning the tripe outside his house on 8th Street. Grandma Rise was in the kitchen and watched him as he went inside the house every little while to take a drink of beer (Schlitz, no doubt.) In the words of Grandma Rise: “One time he came in for a drink of beer and there goes a dog with the tripe in his mouth, running down the street. Grandpa ran after the dog, saying, ‘You son of a…’”
Happy Birthday, Grandma!