When Mom Stopped Singing

Recently a conversation with my son about how much he loves his Savannah cat, made me smile. He explained how special the connection they have is. I must admit, that the cat knows how to work his way into people’s hearts, and the two of them definitely have a connection.

I smiled and said, “Wait till you become a father, then you’ll know what love is.”

“Is the love for a child stronger that the love for siblings or parents?” he asked.

“Of course, It is the most unbelievable love,” I said. As I washed dishes, my mind drifted off to a time so long ago…

It was a time when there were not many telephones and people communicated by postcards, letters, and telegrams.

A telegram being hand delivered to your door step with the “URGENT” stamp on it usually made your heart sink before your trembling hands ripped the little paper open.

A Telegram was the fastest way of sending a message. It was a small note about 8 x 5 that your local post office received via telegraph. They’d type the message and deliver it immediately to the recipient, more so if it was marked URGENT.

It was October 2nd. My father was working on the roof of the new house. He was hoping to have us move in before Christmas. It was an exciting time for the whole family. Mom was ecstatic, not only would we be moving into a new, bigger house but also my older brother Albert would be coming home. On his last visit he had announced that he had turned in his resignation at the PI office that he worked for.

This meant that October was his last month working there. My mom begged him to look for another job every time he came to visit.

He’d been working there for a year now. He was the youngest officer in the team. He was only 20. He loved his job. The pay was good, however, in his last visit he did admit that he’d been feeling a little “uneasy” about a case he had been appointed to in which he was required to investigate some government people.

Albert was the oldest child. He was the life of the party. He was the sweetest son, the funniest brother, and knock out handsome. Every time he came to visit he’d walk in with bags of fancy treats for everyone. I remembered his hugs being so genuine, so full of love.

From the rooftop my father saw the motorcycle approaching down the highway, and it slowed down as it turned towards the house. “How strange,” he thought, “Why would anyone be coming to a house where nobody lives yet?”

“They told me I’d find you here,” said the postman, “I have an urgent telegram for you.” while my father hurried down the ladder, the man reached in his cross body bag. My father took the piece of mail and handed it to his cousin that was working with him that day, as if predictably knowing that its content was unpleasant.

“Dear Mr. Pineda, sorry to inform you that your son Albert R. Pineda has passed away.”

The memories of that afternoon are obscure for most of us, we only remember bits and pieces.

That afternoon, my father traveled to the city where my brother had lived, a six hour drive. There, he came to the dreadful discovery that Albert’s life had be taken by a single shot to the chest. He had been murdered in his own apartment.

My brother’s body arrived the next day in a brown coffin. Mom rushed to the casket, and sobbing out loud asked, “Why did you leave me!?” The strangest thing happened right in front of everyone; two trickles of blood oozed out of my brother’s nose. To this day we ask ourselves how was that possible? Was he saying, “I’m sorry mama”?

Lots of people came to the funeral. Friends, family, and a beautiful woman that could have been Jackie Kennedy’s twin sister showed up. She was about 5–6 months pregnant. She introduced herself as being my brother’s girlfriend. She looked to be in her late twenties, obviously older than my brother. She was in the company of another woman whom she introduced as her aunt.

Someone at the funeral said to have overheard the aunt telling her to dry her “crocodile tears” as she handed her a handkerchief.

The house was never finished before Christmas.

My mom was never the same again. Before she used to sing while she cooked, she hummed while she knitted. And my father who was always joking with her, became very withdrawn. Now mama cried while she cooked and stopped knitting altogether. She hardly ate. She wept day and night.

Eventually we did move to the new house.

My father hired a private investigator to look into the murder of my brother, gave him a down payment and all the information needed to start working on the case.

A few weeks later the investigator came to give my father his money back, and apologized for not being able to continue working on his case. “Mr. Pineda you are a nice man, and you have a beautiful family, I recommend that you move on, and leave things to God. Nothing will bring your son back, and there are things that are best left alone,” he said.

And that is how things remained.

In part, because that is what my father wanted, but also because of the “crocodile tears” remark that was overheard on that day.

Eventually, mom started humming lullabies and knitting again. Her first project was a pair of pink booties. A new baby, a new reason to smile again. It was time to heal.

To this day, I still wonder what the investigator had found that compelled him to convince my father to let it go. And why did my brother’s girlfriend disappear after that day?

My father has passed now. Mom wonders about that grandchild sometimes. A Facebook post in search of information was created by my sister. It generated a lot of shares but nothing promising has come out of it.

The memory of a loved one that has passed never fades. Love never dies. How I long for one of his hugs…

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