Friday, December 20, 2013

Mina'dos na Lisayu: The Luckiest Guy

Mina'dos na Lisayu 

My grandmother’s aunties were notorious in their day as “The De Leon Sisters” They were famous as teachers, nurses, opera singers and one of them even dated the boxer Jack Dempsey while he was on island. Grandma and her two sisters Ruth and Tonette became the next generation “De Leon Sisters.” Their mother would dress them in matching outfits and have them stroll around Hagatna. People would see them and remark that they were like ducks walking to the pond. 

The De Leon girls were known for being beautiful, but my grandmother, at least to me, always insisted that she was unattractive and ugly. She was a shy girl and was only asked to dance once at her school social events, although she was so nervous she was worried she would soak the hands of the boy she was dancing with. She said that people always talked about her sisters Ruth and Tonette as being beautiful, but didn’t feel like anyone saw her as beautiful.

I’ve spent years interviewing Chamorros my grandmother’s age and older, and I can say with certainty that my grandmother was not only beautiful in a generic polite sense, but frankly people also considered her to be beautiful in the "hot" sense. I’ve interviewed many men of that time who admitted to having crushes on my grandmother. Several admitted to going out with some of her friends in hopes of getting close to grandma, but weren’t successful. When I asked these men why they didn’t pursue grandma further, they all admitted to being intimidated by grandma’s intelligence, as she was usually the smartest student in all her classes.

One of her crushes would still get her water and help her to her seat at funerals even when they were in their 70s and 80s. I had the chance to interview him before he passed away and he always talked fondly of grandma’s beauty, and how he would travel from Anigua to Julale many an afternoon hoping to catch a glimpse of her and her sisters. He went on to have his own family and lived a long happy life but he would always say of my grandfather, “Kin is such a lucky man, a lucky man to be the one she chose.”

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