Kikita here. You know, "La Hija de Marta La Cocinera de Babalú." (but only in the blog world)
Otherwise, it's just Kikita.
In case you didn't know, I live with my abuela (yes, Luza). In her house, above the mantel, there is this AWESOME picture of her (and my abuelo, Papi) with all of my tias and my tio. There are two factors to this portrait's awesome-ness, the first being that it is from the late 80's and it shows. The second factor is that the family is posed in-front of Luza's OLD mantel (the one from the house on Ken Way). I love it, a picture of the family posed in-front of the mantel, hung above the mantel. Awesome.
Ok, back to this picture (which I can't actually show you because my tias would be lining up to kill me).
Now, while Luza was in Miami and I had the house to myself . . . I may have (or may not have) had a fiesta or two . . .
So my friends, the ones who don't know me as "La Hija de Marta La Cocinera de Babalú" and have NO IDEA what Mami looks like, became fascinated with this picture. It became a game. With each new arrival, I would make them look at the picture and guess which one was "La Mama de Kikita."
Being that everyone tells me I look like her, I was surprised when everyone kept getting it wrong . . . and even MORE surprised that everyone consistently chose my Tia Ofelia (we call her Ofie).
Wow. Really? Well, you're wrong, that's Luza's first born, Mami is the baby (and she's the one in the back-left of the picture).
Once the shock wore off, I was kind of flattered and even a bit excited.
She's got such the perfect Cuban accent, and she's gorgeous, and does all those quintessential Cuban things, and . . . she's Ofie. She's just rad, in her own, super-cool way. Don't get me wrong, I love my Mami (I made her take me to the doctor last week), but every now and then I thought it would be fun to have her as my "Aunt Marti" instead of "Mami."
And I've noticed (especially recently) that I "get" Ofie, and understand the magnificent (and mysterious) power she seems to wield over the family.
Ask any one of my big, fat Cuban family members, they will tell you that Ofie is the "Resident Mom."
The phrase "My mother is here" does not apply to Ofie. She plays the Mom-role with everyone . . . ok, you might call it bossy, I'm calling it "Mom." It doesn't matter who you are, she'll be the one to tell you "that's dangerous, you'll put an eye out" or "don't feed the baby that" or "no, he can't pet the cats" or "get down you might fall."
One of the best Ofie stories belongs to my cousin John-Paul. He was little (5, I think) and was jumping off a table (or something – the details are kind of hazy) and yelling that he was Superman. Ofie gave him the classic "Stop doing that, you're not Superman. You're going to fall and get hurt." But Johnny shrugged her off, and (karma) promptly fell. While Ofie began the Cuban-mother "I-told-you-so" sounds, he interrupted and said, "I was Clark Kent that time."
I know, awesome. It's like, when Ofie speaks, the people listen.
She also has no problem making the closest person help her, "Amy, I have all these things to unload from my car, go get them." What's more awesome is how WE ALL just do it.
But even though she's "bossy" we all love having her around.
"Guess who's coming to my party . . . OFIE."
And I finally get it. It's about being the Oldest. It's like being the family Vice President (Mom being the President – Dad doesn't work in this particular metaphor, just deal with it). As VP, you command almost the same level of respect that Mom does. You've known her longest so you'd be the best one to know how to take care of the family. And somehow, it totally works. I've found I wield the same kind of power over MY siblings that Ofie wields over hers (though they may try to deny it, it's true). As the oldest, you're kind of "revered" by you're siblings (well, at least I am, and so is Ofie).
I KNOW. CRAZY AWESOME.
So, when my friends unwittingly picked Ofie out as my Mom instead of Mami, I guess it was because they recognized (with reverence) the same "Power Wielding Goddess" look that they see in me. =D