When I was little, my grandma used to tell me this story called, “The Crying Lady.”
It’s a Hispanic story about this beautiful woman named Maria. She was beautiful, the prettiest woman ever alive, and she was very conceited and full of herself. She wouldn’t give anyone the time of day, she wanted the most handsome man in the world. She then met a man that was just as beautiful as she was, a guy that can play guitar, a guy that can sing. But not really knowing him, just knowing that he was a good looking man, she ended up marrying him. They were happy for a few years, had a couple of boys, and he then returned to his old ways: he would party, not come home for months at a time. One day on her way home, she caught her husband with another woman. She was so angry and hurt that she drowned her sons in a nearby river. She regretted it right away, and tried to save her sons but it was too late. She died of grief on the river bed, and is still said to haunt Mexico. And so goes the story of Maria the Crying Lady.
Just because you are beautiful, doesn’t mean you are beautiful on the inside. You must be humble, and nice to people even if they aren’t beautiful on the outside, because it is the inside that counts. I just remember growing up she would constantly tell me this story.
Francine thinks of this story as a lesson of character, not a ghost story. However, she told me that this story isn’t generally seen as a “moral story,” but is instead a very well-known ghost story in Mexico. But her grandma, who wanted to instill good morals in her, told her the story stressing the character flaw in Maria. She told me that, even though her grandma told her this story quite frequently as a child, her grandmother would sometimes even leave out the part of Maria still haunting Mexico as a grieving ghost, because she didn’t Francine to focus on the ghost aspect of it. The message really resonated with Francine, as a pretty Mexican woman herself, and plans on telling her children the story once they are old enough to understand.
This is not an uncommon theme in stories. When a person is so wrapped up in themselves that they somehow end up being bitten in the butt later on (e.g. the story of Narcissus). But I can really appreciate the fact that Francine’s grandmother wanted the emphasis of the story not to be the superstitious element, but the moral element. Especially in regards to children, ghost/superstitious stories can stick with a person for their whole lives, as I saw with many of my other informants. Maybe telling more superstitious stories at an older age would not have such an effect, because children are very, very impressionable at a young age. I mean this isn’t the most horrible/gruesome ghost story around, and the moral component is very evident, but I still think it was smart of the grandma to play that part down.