the Sergio book – the XI of my life (II)
And we continue with Sergio’s XI… in this excerpt, he talks about four of the most important women in his life – his mother Paqui, his sister Miriam, his niece Daniela and his grandmother Reyes – as well as how the woman he marries (I guess she will be number five) should be like. And he also talks about how much he wants to have kids…
The apples of my eye.
Until the moment I have my own kids, which I would like to have because I like children a lot, the soft spots I have are for my mother, my sister and my niece Daniela. The fourth one was my grandmother, but I have another section dedicated to her.
I’m very much a mama’s boy. If my sister is my mother’s right eye [ojito derecho, literally right eye, translates to “apple of my eye”], then I’m her left one due to the devotion she has for me because of football. The faith I have in my mother surprises even my friends. I tell her everything, everything, I hold nothing back. She’s more of a friend than a mother.
When I was a child, my father was the stricter one. He was the one that punished us or scolded us when we did something bad. My mother was my ally. If my father punished me by telling me I couldn’t go out and play football or I had to come straight home, I would go to my mother and together we would get my father to go back on his word. He didn’t hit us, but when he reprimanded us, he always had a shoe in his hand. He didn’t use it, but it made us pay attention to him.
In my family, we’ve always been very meticulous with gift giving, and we didn’t wait until it was someone’s birthday or Christmas to give a present. I went to the corner shop many times to buy a flower for my mother. I think the first serious gift I gave her was a chain. She had a gold chain that had been my grandmother’s. When I was 14 or 15, I liked pendants and I really liked this chain, it was lovely. Many times I would go open her jewelry box without her knowing. I would take the chain and wear it. One of those days, I took it with me to the training session, and someone must have taken it from my backpack, since we didn’t have lockers like we do now. For a time, I also thought that it fell off of me during the training session and I spent a month searching the field for it in the semi-darkness after the training sessions, when no one was around. I went around that field a thousand times, and I didn’t find it. That’s why I thought someone had taken it. My mother asked me about the chain and I told her I had it but I had already returned it to her. Of course, I never gave it back because I didn’t have it and she knew that from the first day, but she didn’t say anything to me, she only asked me to see what I would say.
With the first money I earned, I went to a jeweler and bought her a similar chain. It wasn’t the same, but at least I gave back what I had lost. My mother liked it and the sentimental significance it had.
My mother has been the one who has suffered most with football for the way she is. She suffers more than normal people, because she’s such a good person, just like my sister is. My father has experienced everything and my brother and I continue learning from the hard knocks. It’s harder for my mother and sister, because they have another perspective on life. They live in their bubble. They believe everyone in this world is good, sincere and simple, but there aren’t many people like that and they suffer more because of that.
My mother is always giving me gifts. Even now she knows what to give me and she gets it right each time. She knows my tastes. The last gift she gave me was a gold ring, which my siblings also received. All three of us have it. On the inside, the inscription reads “your mother loves you dearly.”
I remember her buying me new sneakers when I was a kid. They were Nikes, silver and navy colored, with air cushioning. I was so happy, I never took them off. At that time, we always had enough to eat and to splurge once in a while. A few years before that, there were more difficult moments.
My sister Miriam is my weakness. If I had met a woman like her, I would already be married and with kids. She’s the only girl in the house. She’s a few months older than me, but we always went together everywhere. She’s special. She’s a darling. When I was small, I didn’t let her play with me. We hung out with the same kids, the same group of friends, and I didn’t let her come with us, I told her that she had to go with the girls. She went running to my father to tell him and he would always scold me. She even taunted me and laughed at me because she knew that she would never be scolded. I slept next to my sister almost every day. I shared a room with René, but since he always arrived home later or went to sleep later, I would go with Miriam.
She got married last summer and it was one of the greatest days of my life; it could be its own section here. I cried. I cried a lot. I’ve never been a crier, but with time I’ve become softer, I’m becoming more sensitive. Seeing her take the most important step of her life made me happy. Miriam is not a normal person in the sense that she’s always been protected by the family. I supposed that from that day on, she was going to be more independent, but a few months have passed and the reality is that her life is the same as it was before, she’s with the family the entire day and with her husband, of course. He’s been a friend of the two of us since we were kids.
The moment when I started crying was when she got to the altar. A few tears had already fallen before, in the Hotel Alfonso XIII, when I saw how beautiful she looked. But when she came into the church and we looked at each other, her eyes also got wet, but she couldn’t cry because then she would ruin her makeup. I didn’t care that I was crying like a little boy. The last two times I had cried were both due to sadness, at the funerals of my grandmother and of Puerta. And now I was crying from joy.
There were members of my family who were surprised to see me crying. I didn’t care. It was an emotion that came from inside of me. It was a good cry, and if I saw her again, I would cry again. It was the culmination of many sensations, and I would like to live that experience too. Miriam and I share the same tastes, we think alike. You can’t argue with her, for the way she is, as she’s very sensitive and if we scold her she falls apart. Even if we get mad at each other for something, we can’t let two days go by without talking, just like with my mother. They come and talk with me because I’m a bit more stubborn. Well, now not so much. A few years ago, I would never apologize, but now I do it when I believe I am wrong.
The third apple of my eye is Daniela, René’s daughter, my only niece. I would like my children to be like her. I’m excited to be a father. I’ve always liked children. She’s our first niece and my parents’ first grandchild. As I’ve said before, I always feel that the first time is different. Each time I see her, and I see her often because she comes up to Madrid or I go down to Sevilla, I feel the urge to have children. She is in fact like my child. I dedicated that goal in Denmark with the national team to her, although she hadn’t been born yet. She’s a beautiful and wonderful child. In our family, everyone adores her. During this last Eurocopa, I was envious seeing my teammates sharing the title with their kids on the field after the final. I had Daniela with me though.
She calls me “Titi” and I call her “gorda” or “mi Daniela.” She lives in Sevilla with her mother, and comes to the Bernabéu often.
Reyes, my grandmother.
My maternal grandparents lived in Camas, relatively close to us. They lived in the center of the town, near the football field, while we lived in a community called Atalaya. I spent more time with them than with my paternal grandparents. I never met my other grandmother, Nena, because she died before I was born. My other grandfather Pepín passed away when I was 14.
Each day, we would stop by my grandparents’ home. When I played with Camas, I would run from the field to their house, and later on, when returning home from the Ciudad Deportiva of Sevilla, we would always stop and see them. On Sundays, we ate at their house or we would all go to the home of some family members who lived in Alcalá de Guadaíra.
My grandmother Reyes liked football a lot. Well, actually, she liked her grandson a lot. She would watch my games on television and would sometimes even go to the Pizjuán. Whenever I received a kick, she would scold me: “why did you let him kick you, I’m going to break his shinbone.” My grandfather Juan liked football and bullfighting. Camas is passionate about bullfighting, which is why we produced Curro Romero and Paco Camino. Anyway, he had season tickets to Sevilla. In the beginning the apple of my grandmother’s eye was René, but as I grew up, I became her favorite. She would say to me, “how is my churra, how is my cojones gordos, how is my rubio?” That’s what she called me.
One day we were at her house and I told her that with my first salary I was going to remodel her bathroom. The one they had was already very old, very small and it looked like a Playmobil bathroom. It was even dangerous because there was a step at the entrance. I kept my word. The day that I came with money to give her that she asked me why not give her a new kitchen as well. And so I did. A few months after, she asked for a new dining room and so what I did was purchase a nearby home, which was much more modern and comfortable. It was a better solution than remodeling the old house room by room. Now my aunt lives there.
She enjoyed having a footballing grandson. She always went with my grandfather to football games. She passed away on July 9, 2011. I had to go to a friend’s wedding in Sevilla and on the 11th I was going with the team to Los Angeles. I had a good cry. The last Christmas, she had been very sick. We were at the country house and we had to call an ambulance for her. She had Alzheimer’s disease and I wouldn’t wish the the last six months of her life on anyone. It made me sad to see her and see how she had worsened. It’s very tough. In those situations, perhaps the best solution is a fast one, which can cut down on suffering for everyone. When she passed away, I was taking a siesta. I woke up when I heard my sister crying. My mother and I dressed my grandmother in her favorite purple dress – purple is also my favorite color – and put her in the coffin. She is buried in the same cemetery as my paternal grandparents.
I always remember her as a joyful woman, who always made me dance with her even though she could barely move due to knee problems. She was once given six months to live after being diagnosed with cancer and she lived 20 more years. I am happy that I was able to bring her joy, that she was able to share my great moments. She just missed out on seeing my sister get married. The two of them had a superspecial relationship.
Now I dedicate all my goals to her by looking up at heaven. Before, they were for Pepín and Nena.