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The man who came in sometimes

Meeting Jesus and some very old memories

Jesus explaining his philosophy of life

Jesus explaining his philosophy of life, Spain

Quite some years ago when there was no Covid, nor any Brexit this man took a shine to me.  Yes, he did!  He bought me a drink; discretely mind so there was no pressure. When I acknowledged the drink he flipped down his wallet and showed me his family photos, not so well preserved, faded, but very dear to him.

Jesus always came out with his hat on
Jesus always came out with his hat on

His name was Jesus.  And I am re-publishing this because it really seems a generation ago. It was so long ago that you could still smoke inside the bars. How the years fly by!

Jesus had his camels and God knows what else on the tableJesus had his camels and God knows what else on the tableJesus had his camels and God knows what else on the table
Jesus had his camels and God knows what else on the table

The bar owner at the time was called Nacho and he said Jesus came in twice a month, and never without his hat. He lived on his own with a few goats up the mountain. I gave him a peck on the cheek to thank him for the drink and he blushed.  I promised him a snap to add to his collection and he asked me for three. One for his mother, one for his girlfriend, and the other for his wallet.

Jesus was agitated because I had forgotten the photos
Jesus was agitated because I had forgotten the photos

The next time I saw Jesus, I had forgotten and he was clearly agitated. You better get me those photos the next time you come over, or I will kill you, he stated in only a half-joking way.  He stood up unsteadily and for the first time I noticed his foot – it was turned out at 90 degrees.  He grabbed for a pair of crutches to steady himself. I wondered how he managed to monthly visit into town as it was clear he could not drive himself.

Jesus was very pleased with his photos
Jesus was very pleased with his photos

Two weeks later I brought him four photos  – an extra larger one to put over his fire. He bought me another drink and was really very happy with the photos, turning them over and over again as if they were magic cards.

Jesus and his hat
Jesus and his hat

Since then I had not seen him for at least a year and thought about him from time to time.  Then I became worried, and asked Nacho about the man who comes in sometimes, where was he, was he ill?  Oh, he still comes in, he was here two Tuesdays ago.

I am very good with my tongue
I am very good with my tongue, Jesus joked

Finally, a few days later I ran into him again and he was in fine form, garrulous, happy and full of humour.  He actually looked younger than the first time I met him.  He told me that he was 83, and that he has had a lot of girlfriends, and even a child or two, out of wedlock.  I am very good with my tongue, he joked.

Hands blackened by home fires and ciggies

I found out that his present girlfriend, who I was told fathered a child with him many years ago, drove him in twice monthly so that he could have a drink. They were neighbours.

I wondered about his mother.  Was she still alive?  How old was she last year when he asked for the photo to give her?  My Spanish was getting marginally better by the day, but the locals can be very difficult to understand with their multitudes of dialects. For the same reason they find it hard to understand me.  Jesus was no exception.

A pesto bill kept for the memories., Spain
I kept this for the memories, Jesus said

Instead of answering the question about his mother, he took out a crisp well-preserved 100 peseta bill to show me.  It was in better condition than his photos and dated 1931, so therefore from the time when Spain was still a Republic.   Why did you keep that, I asked Jesus?  To remember, he replied.   Life is beautiful, he explained, looking wistfully at me.

I left the man who came in from time to time with his memories and later looked up the value in present day terms of 100 pesetas.  About one pound sterling.  A memory well kept.

Life is beautiful!
Life is beautiful!

Sadly Jesus passed away of heart failure 10 days after I first published this blog.  He was alone in his finca.  I was in England, it was November 25th, and my mother had just turned 85. So 8 years ago. RIP Jesus.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Charles Roger Butterfield
    November 17, 2020
    Reply

    Lovely Story Stephanie.

    Reminds me of the Jesus I knew.!
    When I had my business on the Costa del Sol I had three salesmen/drivers, Manolo ,Miguel and Jesus .Jesus started(as you could then) new from school at 14!)
    Sadly, when I left Spain for SA in 91 I lost contact with them but 10 years later I tried to look them up but sadly, Manolo, Miguel had passed on but Jesus was still well with his lovely wife Antonia and two boys. Fifteenyears later I got a message via my son, that Jesus was ill .I tried to phone him and make contact but alas, no success. However later that year I was back in Fuengirola on a short vacation and something told me that I MUST make a point of contacting Jesus.The area he used to live had grown into a mini Dubai but after much searching I found the flat and 2A, Jesus and Antonia Postigo! I rang the flat and a voice which could only be that of Antonia said “Quienes? to which I replied,”soy Roger .Caramba, venga.So up we went and we were met by a jubilant Antonia. Y Jesus, I asked,?El esta muy enfermo, just returned from hospital this morning.He is in the bedroom, go and see him.The same smiling face,thinner I might add, but all the character that I remembered was embodied in that smile.
    We embraced as brothers and I could see that he had not got long.

    Anyhow, we went into the lounge and Jesus came in on a walker with a drip attached and we talked fondly of the old times, the long hours, the clients, the local feria, his family etc.15 minutes was long enough for him and he retired to his bed.
    He had a liver cancer and the prognosis was three months.

    Saddened by this we left with the memories, and returned to SA.

    A week later I phoned Antonia to ask after Jesus and her reply was”He died the day after your visit .He had a smile on his face she said because he knew you would come and waited to say goodbye!!!
    I often look at the photos of the Christmas staff parties and think nostalgically of those thee, Manolo,Miguel and Jesus.

    • stephanie de leng
      November 17, 2020
      Reply

      What a sad, but also uplifting tale Roger. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Carol Charlton
    November 14, 2020
    Reply

    I love that. You captured the essence of the man and the lifestyle of that generation of rural Spanish subsistence farmers who spent half their lives living under Franco’s regime and the nightmare of post civil war. But best of all you enhanced his end time and gave him your beautiful photos…and even more valuable, your friendship

    • stephanie de leng
      November 14, 2020
      Reply

      Thank you so much for that soulful comment. It really seems like generations ago.

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