Sunday, October 10, 2010

Coffee with Ompi and Chino

My grandfather, whom I called "Sir Rafa," was a well-known storyteller.

It didn't matter what kind of story he told, whether it was an autobiographical account of his boyhood in El Paso, Texas with his brother, nicknamed Chino (supposedly because he had curly hair), or his experiences as a young man, Army recollections . . . or even something made up to entertain me and/or the rest of his grandchildren.

Here's a little background: I'm the only one who called him "Sir Rafa." I started calling him that because 1.) his name was Rafael, and 2.) I'd long ago made up a story about my family and he was a knight called "Sir Rafa" and the nickname stuck. 

Typically, the rest of his grandchildren called him "Ompa" based on the German word Opa meaning grandpa. My grandmother, Oma, was called that because it's German for grandma. I don't know how the German words for grandma and grandpa came about in our family. But they stuck. Well, aside from some of my cousins who often called him "Hijo" (meaning "son" in Spanish).

Okay, so back to his being a storyteller . . .

One day, when my siblings and I were visiting our grandparents in El Paso, he was telling us a story about a friendly little spider who liked to perch on his earlobe and keep him company. The spider's name? Ompi.

Ompi kept Sir Rafa company during many adventures throughout his life. They were always cute companion stories that kept us entertained. 

Now fast forward to the present. A number of months ago, Livie saw a spider in the garage as we were getting into the car. She got scared. So I told her, "Don't worry, it's just Ompi."

Of course, she had to ask "Who's Ompi?"

And I briefly told her about Ompi, which seemed to ease her mind about the spider in the garage.

Occasionally, she'd see a spider here or there, always remembering my story about Ompi, nervously asking me, "That's Ompi, right?"

"Yes, that's Ompi," was my usual reply.

Until one day when she saw TWO spiders. Only one could be Ompi, right?

Right. So who was the other spider?! Well, to keep her from getting worried, I spontaneously said, "Oh, that's Ompi's brother, Chino! Don't worry, he's as nice as Ompi!"

She was a little wary of me at first, not sure if she should believe me. But she finally did.

Now, every time we see a spider, it's usually "Ompi" or "Chino." If we're at Abuelita's house, it's usually Chino, because for some reason, Chino likes to travel a lot! Ompi's usually at home, keeping the house safe, and occasionally drinking hot chocolate or coffee.

Like today. Ompi is drinking coffee with me, as you can see in the photo below.

I'd gotten this mug, oh, about 3 years ago in Des Moines. Andrew and I had gone into a coffee shop early one October morning, because Andrew's a huge fan of their autumn "pumpkin spice lattes." And I saw the cup. I thought it was SO cute, I had to get it.

Ever since, I've used it all autumn long, starting around the end of September.

Since Livie and I started talking about Ompi and Chino, the "nice" spiders, she now gets excited when I use this cup. This morning, she exclaimed that Ompi is helping me drink my coffee this morning. I agreed, explaining that while he likes my coffee (with a couple Splendas and some hazelnut creamer), he prefers it "black" without sweetener or flavorings, just like Sir Rafa.

And that is how I ended up having coffee with Ompi and Chino.

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