just ask
my grandmother, my Mom’s mother

called my father James. His name was not James. Now, his last name, Santiago, is James in English. I learned this much later in life. When I was young I was always curious, but never asked. Even as a little girl I  wondered why she called my father by a different name. My parents divorced before I was old enough to remember them together.

‘how’s james?’

She would ask this in Spanish, of course. ¿Cómo está James? I can still hear the voice and see her. Always with a smile, she asked.

so i asked my mother why

Actually, I asked her when I asked about the wedding photograph.

I presumed the answer would be: Mami knew his last name, Santiago, is James in English and liked to call him that.

but, oh no …

That is not the answer I got. “She called him James because we only knew him as James. He introduced himself to me as James, and so I introduced him to my family as James. I never, even after I found out his real name, called him anything else.” Whaaaat?

amazed at still being (pleasantly) surprised

which is just lovely

and leads back to the title


If I get a photograph of my grandmother Sofia, I will update

There is only one of her in my mind