El magico

El magico

My grandfather was a magician and a photographer.  I have many wonderful photographs that capture my childhood thanks to him but this is the one photograph that he did not take that I absolutely cherish because we are in it together.   Taken sometime in the early 80′s, I’m seated as his number one fan–front row and center–for another exclusive magic show.  He had plucked a cigarette butt out of an ashtray and was in the process of turning it into a fifty dollar bill. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t just do that with all the cigarettes.

It wasn’t too long after this photograph was taken that he moved back to Mexico (he had migrated to the US in the 60′s).  The magic shows and photographs ceased.  Over the years I would only see him again a handful of times.

The last time I saw him, I was 19 years old and it had been ten years since we had last seen each other . My grandmother announced my arrival and he remembered who I was because he lit up when he heard my name, but he no longer recognized me and his gaze penetrated past me to a part of his past where I existed.  For him, I was now a complete stranger–it was a humbling moment and I fought back tears.

I sat with both him and my grandmother, and because he had my undivided attention he rambled on about the past, and then he fell silent because my grandmother began grumbling.

He turned to me and said, “I have the prettiest wife.”  His gaze fell on my grandmother and her eyes met his and she blushed and waved him away, “No sabes lo que dices.”

I smiled and nodded, felt lucky to witness a most loving and magical exchange between bickering grandparents.

He passed away a few years later.

Every once in a while, like this Dia de los Muertos,  nostalgia strikes and I wish I could sit down for one more magic show or smile for another picture.

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