Monday, November 24, 2008

Chiquitita, You and I Know...

My Italian grandmother, my father's mom, who lives in Argentina was supposed to fly up to New York this weekend. She was going to be here until the end of January but she wasn't feeling well and so she had some tests done. I'm not entirely sure what she has exactly but she's much better now that the doctors have figured it out and gave her the proper medicine to control the pain that she was having.

I am 31 years old and my first grandparent, actually my great-grandmother, passed away when I was 21 years old. I traveled to Argentina with my dad to see her but she was already gone in my mind. In all my life I never once saw her in bed like that except for the times when I was little and I slept in the bed with her. Even then, she always came to bed after me and she always woke up hours before I did. She was the most active, vivacious and brave woman I ever met. She was the reason I am here since she was responsible for my parents meeting. She moved to the United States from Argentina, like so many people from around the world, to start a new life. Eventually she moved back but she loved New York, and in particular Washington Heights where she lived - she always told me that no matter what I do, I must, at some point, live in New York City.

I've had that pit in my stomach for the last week knowing that my grandmother is sick. When my grandfather died five years ago it was so fast - well, it was fast for me. I live here in New York so I have always felt like a part of me was missing because they live so far. I did not see him sick and it's a blessing and a curse. A blessing because in my mind I will always remember him as my wonderful, pipe-smoking, healthy grandfather who taught us how to swim when we were little and who would make steaks for my sister and me for breakfast when we would come home from a night of dancing in Buenos Aires when we grew up. But, a curse because it had been a while since I had seen him and he never had the opportunity to meet D. I was so close with my grandfather notwithstanding the huge distance separating us. Recently, while I was cleaning my old bedroom, I found a box full of birthday cards, postcards and letters from them. I'm thankful that I save every last thing.

So, my grandmother is sick but she's better. I wish she was here. She is the kindest, most selfless person I know. She is so wise and it's not just because she is a grandmother. She always says the right thing and incidentally, she's always right. When ever I have a worry about anything or if I'm ever having one of those days, she makes me feel better. That's not meant to sound contrived - it's just true. I've been looking forward to her visit since the last time I saw her when I was in Argentina in July. This would have been the first time in years that I've seen her for three different visits - she was here when Paloma was born, then I went to Buenos Aires and then she was supposed to come here again. This would have been the first Christmas that we spend with her in over ten years.

This photo is of a trip that I took with her to Iguazu Falls. As long I live I will never forget it - we spent four days together, just the two of us, talking and laughing.


what my eyes have seen...

Incidentally, today is my Cuban grandmother's birthday. We'll be celebrating, like we do every year, on Thanksgiving, with some delicious cake and lots of other desserts. I wish I could be with the two of them but I still feel so lucky.

Today's soundtrack is for Abulin who would sing the Spanish version of this song to me when I was little. I asked for her to sing it over and over again and she always did - it's such a sad song but I loved it and I'm pretty sure I drove everyone nuts with it.

ABBA - Chiquitita

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