By Maggie Van Ostrand
This is my last column for El Ojo Del Lago. It’s a bittersweet parting because my editor, Alejandro (Alex) Grattan, was the first person to encourage me to turn a writing hobby into a lucrative profession. He did this way back in 1995 by inviting me to become a staff member of Ojo and write a monthly column.
Thanks to all you wonderful Ojo readers—and much to my surprise, my little column, “A Balloon in Cactus,” led to writing jobs for newspapers as big as the Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Amarillo Globe-News and various other newspapers and magazines.
Online assignments followed, including political satire for the Huffington Post, entertainment assignments for film magazines, even local humor for great states like Texas, Ohio, and Michigan.
I couldn’t have done it without you. Trouble is, now I’ve got so much work for pay, I have no time to write for fun.
In looking back, my favorite subject has always been Josefina. In addition to being my beloved housekeeper in Ajijic, she was my teacher (through her, I learned that you cannot measure the heart of the Mexican people, it’s just too big), the world’s best cook (she’s right up there with Frida Kahlo), a doctor (even the sting of a scorpion is nothing to worry about with Josefina’s home remedies) and the most impressive of all: she has kept her husband madly in love with her for over 30 years. All my marriages together don’t equal 30 years.
Love for the people of Mexico has been my good fortune, and writing about them, my greatest joy. By the time you read this, Alex will have assigned the Op-Ed column to another Ojo staff writer, and I’m sure you’ll continue to support him or her, as you have supported me.
Thank you so much, Alex, and all you lovely expats, for your support, encouragement and friendship in reading my column all these years.
I’ve always wanted to have the last word, and this is it: Vaya con Dios, mis amigos.
Our Editor Responds:
I am deeply saddened by the news of your imminent departure—but cannot fault you for a moment. Indeed, I am delighted that your writing career has blossomed so beautifully, though from the beginning we all thought you had talent to burn, with a compelling mix of humor, pathos and a social conscience.
It will be impossible to replace you (as it will be with Mildred Boyd, who recently died) but I hold out the hope that you will favor us with an occasional piece every now and then and stay in close touch.
You will always be special to me as well as to the many thousands of our readers who became your devoted fans over these past fifteen years. You were the first columnist I signed on when I became the editor of the Ojo and from that moment on you became one of our most treasured literary assets.
With affection and gratitude,
Your friend and former editor,
PS: By the way, David Tingen feels much as I do, and is well aware that you are the type of person and writer one meets very few times in an entire lifetime.
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