*Tunas = spanish word for prickly pears
Standing in line to eat the tunas
was always like waiting for a roller coaster ride.
There’d always be 5 or 6 of us cousins,
chittering and chattering about what we were to play next or
wondering about where our oldest cousin was at.
Our uncles were always the ones
who would cut them open for us.
It was always 1 out of the 8 males in our family.
Sometimes it was my dad and when my dad would do it,
he would always be sure I'd get
the biggest and juiciest one of all.
Usually it was our uncle Jose.
He loved being around all us kids so he was
happy to do it.
The days we had prickly pears were rare.
Mainly because us kids could never cut them open on our own.
We always needed help from an adult.
When we had someone to do it for
us, we took advantage and went crazy.
How big? How small? What color?
All simple questions that floated in our heads.
Usually we’d just say “whichever is biggest.”
That way when only the bad ones were left,
that would be
our signal to go find something else to do.
"Don’t drop it!" "Don’t stain your clothes!"
Somehow we would always manage to
drop the prickly pears and
stain our clothes.
But no one really cared.
There were buckets and buckets of prickly pears to eat.
and as long as someone was there to cut them open for us,
we’d eat them all.
We'd take huge bites into them and watched
each other as our
mouths turned pink or watered with the juices.
We’d compare which prickly pear was
bigger and get in arguments of which was better.
We'd run around telling the whole family,
“Uncle has tunas! Who wants some?!”
Uncle would sometimes tell stories to
us while we ate them. Sometimes
we’d talk about the different games we played.
We would talk about how good the prickly pears were or
how maybe today they weren’t as good as usual.
Uncle would always have something to talk about with us.
We were all there.
Cousins. Together. Family.
We were either eating or waiting in line again.
Maybe it wasn’t all 40 of us. But it was all 10 of
us, and that was enough.
Those short moments, on those sunny days,
sitting on the porch beside a bucket filled with prickly pears.
Whatever game we were playing would have to wait.
We had prickly pears to eat and
we were NOT gonna miss out on that.
Moments like these is when
we realize family is everything.
Somehow, this little fruit is able to unite
us together creating moments that
we live for. A fruit. Of all things on this planet,
a fruit has the power to bring smiles.
That's not to undermine the beatiful making of the prickly pear.
Not only does it bring smiles to
our hearts and faces, but to
our tummies as well.
Sight of the last prickly pear was usually met by
We’d walk away smiling and thanking our uncle.
“Bye, tio, gracias! If you have more, you better tell us,”
and he’d always chuckle.
We’d resume what we were doing or
walk around town finding something else to do. Eventually someone would say
“Hey! I'm in the mood for some tunas again.”