Monthly Archives: October 2012

Loving and Living

And so I’m here. Here in this unfamiliar, yet familiar, environment. With my son, his wife and his newborn daughter. I am Grandma once again, or as I am now known “Abuela.” It’s a term I used to shy away from. For years I bragged about not having grandchildren; I would cross my fingers and say, not yet, not yet. Though I had children old enough to be parents, I felt I wasn’t old enough to be a grandparent.

But now I am. Twice over. And strangely, I feel young, and growing younger every day. Could it be seeing new life takes you back in time? Or is it that you feel the need to live longer to provide this new being with the love they need to grow and develop?

I don’t really know as I have no personal frame of reference as to the benefits of grandmothering or even grandfathering. All I ever knew about grandfathering was in relation to a professional process. If the rules changed midstream and you were already in the water swimming, then they didn’t apply to you. You were grandfathered in.

Yes, my parents obviously had parents, but I didn’t get to know them. My mother lost her father when she was seven.  The only other fact I know of him is his name. Her mother died before I was school age. I have only one memory of her. Wizened and stooped, she slowly makes her way down my aunt’s living room, touching the wall as she goes, for she is blind by then.  Her glistening white hair a halo around her head, she seems only as tall as I am. That reel plays in my head at odd moments.

My father lost his mother before I was born; he would go on to name his youngest daughter after her. Knowing my baby sister bore her name made this lost grandmother alive in some recess of my mind. His father turned out to be my only grandparent with longevity. And though he lived to be 97 years old, he never had a minute for me or my siblings. For him, we did not exist.

I think of him sometimes; I see him as I often saw him, walking tall and proud down the street past our house. With nary a glance our way. I want to be like him, have strived to be like him in that way, carrying myself tall and proud. Or as tall as my height will allow me. But, there are two characteristics of him I don’t want, his aloofness and his longevity.

I don’t want to live to be 97 years old. Yet, I want to be here for my granddaughters and perhaps my future grandsons. I want time enough to break the cycle, start a new tradition for my line of the family. A tradition of loving and living grandparents.

I will have to find a happy medium to reach that goal. Perhaps by making every minute count, every caress matter, every word spoken be loving. Or maybe if I solely concentrate on the moment at hand, and how proud and tall I walk when I think of my children and grandchildren. For they are my sustenance. They are and always will be my yesterday, my today and my tomorrow.

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Leaving On a Jet Plane

It’s a free, floaty feeling to loosen the ties that bind, even for a little bit. For no matter how lovingly they encircle you, they still keep you in place, grounded.  And though that does provide comfort and a sense of security, I look forward to breaking free, taking a hiatus, leaving the daily grind behind, for just a little while.

What makes this voyage that I’m about to embark on seem even more buoyant is that I literally don’t know when I’ll be back again.  My trip has no expiration date. And that’s OK. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I will think about that tomorrow.

When I’m lifted up into that clear blue yonder, I will be suspended between the bookends of my life here and my life elsewhere. I will be alone, alone surrounded by strangers. All of us traveling inside our own cocoon of solitude, for truly that is how we traverse this life, accompanied yet alone.

I am not so much moving away from one point as I am progressing toward another. I am going to, not going from. I fly to welcome an angel that has landed on this earth. A little soul who is a bridge between the life I live now and the life I tried to live then.

As much as I loved back then, I was unable to give my son, her father, what I most wanted to. A home with his own mother and father.  The love I feel for him is forever framed by the guilt I carry. A guilt that is somewhat assuaged by the fact that though we divorced each other, we did not divorce him. I know both his father and I love him dearly, our firstborn.

Yet now is not the time to dwell on that particular arc of our family history. My son has given me a gift that will take me even further back in time, a granddaughter who carries my mother’s name.  There is no doubt this new baby’s life will be one of privilege my mother could not even begin to imagine. A child sent out into the world at the age of seven to earn her keep would have no reference of what it meant to have a stable, secure life with two loving parents.

But, this Carmen will. And when I finally hold her great-granddaughter in my arms, I know my mother will smile down at me from the heavens I’d just been so close to.

My Lover, My Friend

I’ve been trying to say goodbye to my friend called Prednisone. Or at least, so long. He’s a good buddy to have around at your beck and call, as long as he knows his place. His place in the medicine cabinet, that is. But, I think he loves me more than I love him, because he’s gotten a reprieve. Not only will our connection not be decreased, he will stay on board a bit longer.

I was all set to start our goodbye process, a process that can take weeks, even months. We’ve been intimately involved since March when my right hand suffered a blow, or rather a blow-up. It became so swollen and painful, it was basically rendered useless. My left hand jumped into the fray and compensated as best it could, but the only thing that tore at the devil called Pain was my bestest friend.

Candy, I used to call him, though he is a bitter pill to swallow, literally. Every morning he’s there, waiting patiently for me. I want him, but I don’t want him, even though he does make me feel good, spry, nimble, young again.  Like a lover, he gives me a good feeling all over, once that initial swallow of tea takes him down into my innermost.

We will have to continue our relationship through the rest of the year, I suppose. He has a new area to caress and concentrate on. My chest, right over my heart. How ironic is that?

Costochondritis, my doctor calls it. A fancy word for swelling of the cartilage that connects each rib to what is commonly called the breastbone. This pain is not as severe, but then I don’t use my chest like I do my hands. Though one thing it does have in common with the hand pain is that it’s there all the time. All the time.

So, when I leave for The Big Easy in a few days, my good buddy will be first and foremost on my list. I was going to take him along anyway, as insurance. Now, he will go with me as assurance.

Hugs

The story goes that my sister used to cry on the way home from school because all her friends had a brother or sister except for her. She complained that all she had was Risas, the dog. My father named him that because he wore a perpetual smile as a result of an injury to his mouth.

Rosa had to wait nine long years before she had a living sibling. For during that interval, the tale goes, there was one other child, stillborn, miscarried or died young, I don’t know. But I know there was one. My mother told me.

What she didn’t say was whether it was a boy or a girl. Instinct tells me it must have been a boy. Or, at least, that my mother believed it was a boy. Thus when I appeared healthy and hearty, it must have been salt in the wound.

That is the only explanation I can come up with as to why growing up, I never knew a mother’s hug.

Logic tells me that she did indeed hold me. For one thing, she had to hold me to feed me.  They were not in any position to hire someone to do that job. And that does offer me a sort of comfort. But, as I don’t remember being weaned, I don’t remember being held.

Reading others’ words describing the feel of a mother’s loving arms when they were children fascinates me. I try to imagine and put myself in their place. To feel that warmth. To inhale her smell of fresh-baked bread. To feel the silk that is her hair as she leans her head against theirs. To know that the world can’t harm you while you are safe in her arms. And though I try, I can’t relate.

We were poor, but hugs were free. Yet, I grew up without that essential basic need. That nurturing sensory input.  It’s been a hole in my life that I dared not confront. Best not to look back. But now I realize, I’ve been searching for that safety zone all my life.

***Risas means “laughs” in Spanish.