By the time her youngest left in search of greener grass, Mama had been a widow for a few years. Her children called and still came around, but with their own families now, the frequency diminished. An abundance of leisure time brought her an unwelcome solitude and knowing little else, she occupied it with lingering worries of health that comes with age.

Her mind’s pictures of earlier times with Esposo were pleasant diversions when they came. Left to daydreaming, she stoked the images as they danced across her memory, savoring them one after the other, the next becoming more vivid than the one before, much as a relic wine grows tastier as it dwindles down toward its last drop.

She thought of the road trips to the towns of Central Texas on the weekends when Esposo played softball in the tournaments. The players crowded into pickup trucks with wives and girlfriends and paraded down the state highways to the next game. Along the way there were those pit stops at the 7-11 seeking beverages to cure their dry Texas thirsts and later the intermissions at the roadside parks to make more room for the remedy.

Softball was his game and Esposo was his team’s most capable player. He was quick for a big man and his strong arms made him the team’s choice for pitcher. His power and quick hands enabled monstrous feats at the plate so he batted fourth, the spot in the lineup reserved for the team’s most dependable producer.

When he struck out a batter or drove the ball beyond the fence, both feats done with great regularity, the yells and cheers thundered out for Esposo, but he was always humble in receiving the accolades. But those were Mama’s moments too; that was her man who had just done that.

They celebrated together and carried the festivities begun at the games to the bailes, the dances afterwards. They were lively affairs, most of them held at local VFW halls, rickety old buildings near full decay but saved, at least for these moments by the conjuntos; their jolting rhythms of Tejano guitars, sweet flutes, pulsating drums and the accordion’s rapture injecting new life into them.

Like the language she spoke, dancing was inherent, art given at birth never diminished by learning. On the dance floor, she could glide like a swan as it ascends from the water and takes to the air skimming the surface in the first few seconds of flight. Arm in arm with the game’s hero, together they danced with an ease and a grace that made Mama the envy of all the ladies.

But he belonged to her. Enveloped in his warm embrace and lost in the rapture of the music she loved, all her troubles took flight. The night never old, imbued her with its eternal youth. People said that together they lost all awareness and it seemed they just kept dancing on, even after the music had stopped.

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