BERODIA (JNS) _ The Mercedes van growled its way in low gear up the mountainside to the small cemetery by the church where Gumersinda Tarano, my grandmother, is buried.
We tried to remember which grave it was and I thought what a beautiful view it was looking at the grey-green mountains.
My father had other thoughts and we consoled him.
As we walked up he pointed to a large house across the way and mentioned Don Torribio used to own it. I asked him about it to distract him.
''His name began with Don, so he was a Conde or something,'' he said.
He owned all this land, my father said pointing across the valley and up. And he made all the sidra that they bought.
We walked down to las llanas, the flat area where the cows used to graze and listened again how Leonardo's family used to make tiles for roofs at an oven nearby, but later moved to Gijon and had a factory. The factory closed after the family member in charge had a couple of heart attacks and died.
On the way back to the car a blondish dog barks at us from Don Torribio's house and my father asks a woman clearing weeds who lives there now and if they remember his mother.
``Rogelio will know, she says,'' and gets him.
Rogelio comes out shirtless, a large, square-framed man with a grey moustache. He remembers my father and all of his siblings and the order in which they were born. He invites us in out of the mist and offers us sidra. He pours it with the bottle about two feet above the glass, trying to create the foam that is essential to enjoying the drink properly.
``Escanciar,'' he says, which sounds like escanso, or scant. I guess you're supposed to let scant drops foam up in the glass before you drink it.``Urin'' he says, meaning "drink." I can't find the cognate for that one.
True, Don Torribio used to own the place, Rogelio says, but he wasn't from here. He married the owner and they never had children. Rogelio's father was an administrator in the village, and Rogelio now lives in Gijon but bought the place recently for weekends. He now sells apples from the property to a sidra maker, and served us that very same cider he bought back from the producer.
We thank him and go off to see Sixto's children. Sixto was about 10 years older than Papa and knew him his whole life, going to the U.S. for awhile and working construction with him before going back. He died last year, after coming back from a walk with his son around their property. He had been in the hospital with breathing problems and knew something wasn't right. His closest relatives came to see him from Spain and America.
A couple of days before he died, his wife, Inez,
said, they had a traditional matanza, or pig slaughtering.
"Si muero manana, basta, estoy contento" he said before he died.
``He said `If I die tomorrow,it would be enough, I'm happy,''' she remembered. ``And he died.''