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August 1st, 2010

Dos Coronas a Mi Madre…

Today would have been my grandmother’s 83rd birthday. She passed away on April 4th of this year (Easter).  This is the obituary that was published by the funeral home in San Antonio.

Margarita P. Galindo passed into her Lord’s hands on April 4, 2010 at the age of 82 years. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Bernardo M. Galindo Sr., former husband George Cisnero, father Jose Angel Pena, son Leandro Cisnero and daughter Teresita Cisnero. She is survived by her sons; George Cisnero (Sylvia), Guadalupe Cisnero (Lucia), Alfredo Cisnero (Aurora), Adolfo Cisnero (Susan), Bernardo Galindo Jr. (David), Eduardo Galindo (Linda), daughters; Lucille Servin (Francisco), Olivia Aranda (Augustin), Alicia Marty (Miguel), Teresa Galindo, Janie Galindo, brother Joe Pena, 31 grandchildren, 51 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandson.

As a child I was fortunate to never lose a close family member. Both of my biological grandfathers passed away before my parents met and long before I was ever conceived. So, I didn’t have to witness either of my parents lose a parent until now. Of course, prior to grandma’s passing, both of my parents lost their step-fathers, my dad lost a brother, and my mom lost all three of her siblings (two sisters and a brother). Still, I’m convinced that the passing of a parent is something that no amount of preparation can prepare a person for. It’s just something that a person will never be ready to deal with until it happens.

Anyway, when Grandma passed away my entire family (Dad, Mom, and brothers) traveled to Texas together for the first time in almost 20 years. I won’t bother with all of the details of the week except to say that a week of funeral stuff wears on a family. I was fortunate, though, since all I had to do is sit around at the funeral home or sit around drinking beer with my cousins. Even so, I was still drained by the time it was over. I cannot even begin to fathom what my father and his brothers and sisters were dealing with.

My grandmother was Roman Catholic. Apparently, in Catholicism, the purpose of the Vigil (wake, visitation, etc.) is to attend to the soul of the dead. It also apparently lasts a couple of days. I’m not really sure what all of  this means, but after attending a couple of Catholic funerals I have learned that part of the process includes praying the Rosary the night before the funeral mass and burial. It’s a very interesting ceremony to watch for someone like me who is not Catholic but has a fascination with religions of all sorts. Needless to say, the ceremony struck me as very solemn…that is until a band of Mariachis came from behind me, walked up the aisle to the casket, and started serenading my grandmother with funeral dirges. I remember thinking to myself (and may have said it out loud), “I definitely didn’t see this coming.”

I only remember one of the songs that they played (they were all in Spanish, and I didn’t understand them). It was this one:


Dos coronas a mi madre
Al panteón voy a dejar
Donde me paso las horas
Llorando sin descansar.

Dos coronas a mi madre
Es muy poco para ti
Madrecita de mi vida
Quisiera quedarme aquí.

Cada día de las madres
Es muy triste para mí
Cada día de las madres
Crece más mi amor por ti.

Aunque sé que es imposible
Ya no estarás junto a mí
Madrecita de mí vida
Nunca me olvido de ti.

CORO (2 veces)
Aquí te dejo estas flores
Dos coronas para ti
Recordando los momentos
Que tú me arrullaste a mí.

Madrecita si me escuchas
El otro año vengo aquí
A dejarte dos coronas
Dos coronas para ti.

A dejarte dos coronas
Dos coronas para ti.

Now, there are two specific reasons that I remember this song. The first reason was due to my propensity to pay attention to all things beer. My mind immediately latched onto the word “Corona.” Several years of studying and working with the Arabic language has pretty much eliminated the majority of my high school/college Spanish lessons. Still, I started sifting through my muddled archive of fragmented Spanish to try to put together the meaning. My thoughts went something like this:

‘Dos = Two’…Okay, Two coronas.

‘A mi madre’….hmmmm…’mi madre’ is easy enough, it means ‘My mother.’ So, that must mean ‘A’ is a preposition meaning ‘for.’ (I later remembered it actually means ‘to’)

Okay, two coronas for my mother.

‘Es muy poco para ti’ OOOOH, I actually know this, ‘Is too little for you.’

So…’two Coronas for my mother, but it’s not enough for you’….what the fuck does that mean?

The second reason I remember this song is because my thought process was interrupted by my mother whispering, “This is such a beautiful song.” I looked at her with a confused look and said (not at loud), “What the hell do you mean? Why the hell are they singing about giving Grandma two Coronas?” My mind started splashing images in my head that were very similar to these:

Then, somewhere in the deepest recesses of my brain a voice rose up yelling, “Corona means CROWN!” This made a little more sense to me, but I still didn’t quite get it. I figured it had something to do with crowns in heaven or something. Eventually, as I started to put the pieces of the song together, I realized that corona is also the Spanish word for wreath. OH!!! FLOWERS!!! NOW I GET IT!

As it turns out, my mother is right. This is a beautifully sad song about a man leaving flower wreaths at his mother’s grave. (I still think about beaches and beer when I hear it, though)

Grandma lived a long life. I’m sure a lot of it wasn’t easy. If you paid attention to the obituary you would know that she was the matriarch of a HUGE family. A family of this size inevitably creates incredible joy, I’m sure. But not without creating its share of sorrow and strife. That’s a lot of living to pack into 82 years. So, in retrospect, after 82 years of this world, Grandma may have actually been ready to relax on a beach with a beer or two.

So, Grandma, if paradise is like they say it is, then hopefully you are enjoying a couple of Coronas like the people in the commercials. God knows you’ve earned it! We miss you and love you!

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4 comments to Dos Coronas a Mi Madre…

  • Susan Cisnero

    Very beautifully and well written–you make me proud son.

  • AC

    Thanks, Mom! It’s good to know that your expectations for me are so low that an essay written at the 9th-grade level makes you proud. 🙂

    Seriously, though, I’ve thought of that song and told that story often since April.

  • Alfred

    This is a great song. And like your Mom said, Well written sir. My mother passed away and this song always hits me. But I also pictured Coronas. I thought it meant him leaving two Coronas (the beer) at her burial sight. But this makes way more sense and makes the song way better. Thanks for writing this. May you grandmother rest in peace.

  • AC


    Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading.

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