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  • When I left the house she would tell me I'd catch a cold, to cover up, god help you, with this here jacket. And scarf. She always gave me the big jacket that smelled like smoke from grilling chicken gizzard on the street with Olympia.

    She liked to serve soup with a heap of cilantro. Co-mi-da buen-a, she would say. That's what she did when she was in a really good mood: place a bowl on the table and enunciate comida buena syllable by syllable.

    More than once she cried. She had so much to cry about. She prayed to La Virgen Dolorosa, Our Lady of Sorrows, depicted with seven daggers in her heart.

    When I left the first time she fried ten pounds of ripe plantain and wrapped it up in foil for the bus ride.

    Watch out for thieves, she told me. And beware of restaurants with hidden kitchens. And cover up your neck well or else you'll get a cold where nobody can take care of you.
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