Penning this entry with a heavy heart... I received word on my drive home that my Uncle Gonzalo Lopez had unexpectedly passed away.
Gonzalo was an Uncle whom I connected with cerebrally when discussing Sports or Politics. We would spend a number of evenings by a family taco stand - pouring over periodicals and discussing world politics. In these intense conversations, I would marvel at how man who lived in Mexico City - knew the names of Prime Ministers, Presidents and Secretary of States around the World.
I asked him once why he even bothered knowing so much about the world stage and he said something to me that was very impactful. He said something to the effect of: "In Mexico, we are directly affected by leaders and decisions that are made abroad." When we weren't discussing global political topics, we would often talk about corrupt political practices in Mexico.
To the best of my knowledge, Gonzalo did not advance beyond the US equivalence of High School. He was soft spoken (around me) and carried on with a professorial delivery. His mastery of the Spanish language was impeccable. There numerous times where I sat in front of him only absorbing 90% of what came out of his mouth. He never simplified his thoughts by dumbing down his verbal delivery... I respected him so much for that and wished I could have told him that before his passing. Often times, I wished that he knew better English so that I could showcase my appreciation for a number of subjects were engaged in.
Thanksgiving In Chicago
I forget the year... but I'm pretty sure it was November of 2004. My uncles (Federico, Jorge and Gonzalo) arranged to fly me in from Detroit to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with them. The visit to Chicago was a little weird for me because I really hadn't seen my extended family since 1996. There wasn't really a falling out as much as I had begun to live my 20's in Michigan and I didn't really "know" these gentlemen any more.
All my concerns were brushed away as we caught up on life over a few cases of beer in the basement of my Uncles house on the South Side of Chicago. I forget how cold it was that night but snow began to fall pretty heavily on Chicago that night so it kinda grounded us into the house together. We talked about a number of things... music, movies, women, college and life. I recall talking about the 2004 ACLS with Gonzalo for what seemed like hours as we went over Game 5 and Game 6 in fanatical detail.
I don't know where the time went.. but we drank until we finished 2 cases of beer. My cousin Miguel and my Uncle Federico retired to their rooms upstairs and I squared away sleeping quarters with my Uncle Jorge and Gonzalo in the basement. Jorge informed me that the couch I was sitting on had a pull out bed and that I could sleep with Gonzalo on it.
Jorge elected to take a cot in the basement that Gonzalo regularly slept in.... The following 20 minutes got really weird. My Uncle Gonzalo really wanted to sleep on the cot. Not because he didn't want to sleep next to me... but because fuck Jorge, he felt that the cot was his. This was older brother telling younger brother to eat shit. All three of us were pretty lit so Jorge told him to piss off and insisted that he wouldn't move.
I laid up in bed staring at the ceiling as the shouting began to escalate in the room. I then heard Gonzalo take off his belt.... the next sound I heard was the sound of Gonzalo whipping my uncle Jorge's back in a drunken delight. I don't know who was more shocked by the behavior... Jorge or me, but I'm going to say that I was probably him.
I couldn't stop laughing hysterically and this sorta defused what was going on in the basement. My Uncle Gonzalo came thrashing down again with his belt across his back and Jorge continued to not budge from the cot.
Gonzalo dropped the belt and shuffled off into another part of the basement. A number of minutes passed by and I didn't couldn't figure out where he went. Jorge and I talked about what just transpired in the dark and laughed the whole thing off.
Gonzalo quietly sneaked back into the darken room and dumped a freezing bucket of water onto Jorge and the Cot. The screaming reached a new pitch and now everyone in the house was awake because of the commotion in the basement. I'm not entirely sure how it didn't escalate into a pair of 40 year olds exchanging physical blows - but it was on the brink of total cluster fuck.
This is my favorite memory of Gonzalo and it always will be.