Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Beloved Grandmother

Papabuelo and Abuela
Unknown year

So, my grandmother, who is 99 years old, and will hopefully see her 100th birthday, took a turn for the worse this week. We were afraid this was the end. When one of my aunts started sifting through everything that happened this week, she found out that a cousin had an argument in front of her.

WHY in the world would a middle-aged man argue around his grandmother, who is bed-ridden and ill in bed? Every single day of her life she suffers, is in constant pain, cannot sleep well, and when she IS awake, feels lonely, in spite of the people around her, because she can barely see and is deaf in one ear and can't hear so well in the other.

I bought a plane ticket which cost me 60 dollars, one-way, which I could barely afford, but I just HAD to see my grandmother, whom we call Abuelita. It means "little grandmother" in English, or perhaps you might substitute it for granny or grammy. I wouldn't know which to pick. So, my beloved little grandmother got so upset, so distressed, it affected her health. Sometimes I want to tar and feather my cousin, whom I dearly love, but he really needs a spanking, in spite of being middle-aged already. Sometimes I think it's like he never really grew up. But then, the little island where they live is a sleepy island, where you just live, have some fun, and if you have to buy a lot of groceries, you take the boat or ferry to the main island, Puerto Rico, and buy your stuff at Fajardo... Sometimes there's no need to.

In Culebra Island, we are not ambicious for much. Just enough food, enough clothing, enough music, and we're happy. Sure, lots goes on there, but lots goes on everywhere, out of wedlock babies, deaths, weddings, vendettas, parties, and just good neighborly chats in the town square, which isn't square.

There USED to be beautiful Flamboyan trees just beyond the town square, or plaza, as we call it, lovely trees, but back in 1989 Hurricane Hugo destroyed most of them and what was left of the two trees on either side of the stairs leading up to City Hall were barely two stumps.

Behind City Hall is a narrow street that goes up up up the hill, and my grandmother lives on the last of that line of houses. Beyond that is Melones beach. You have to go a long ways to reach it, but the "melones" are gone now, courtesy of cacti pirates and Hurricane Marilyn. These were cactus that had delicious fruit, round little fruits which you had to pick very carefully or you would get stuck with one of the cactus thorns, and after suffering the pain of having them pulled out, the injury itched, hurt, and burned for days. But, actually, the delicious fruit was worth it. We had brought one of those melones home to the "Isla Grande" which means Big Island, but some years ago the last one died. What a pity I didn't think of trying to propagate seeds or offspring of this cactus, and then replanting them on Melones Beach. By the way, "melones", plural of "melón" means melon, as in watermelon. The cactus was round like a watermelon, and had bumps all over it, and out of the bumps, about 5 or more sharp thorns. One of these days I am going back to hunt for some. Perhaps I will find a treasure, hidden melones, somewhere in a ravine or on a steep hillside. Perhaps I'll find me, a girlish me, and have a tryst with sweet old memories. Perhaps.

My heart is sorely aching tonight. My grandmother is in Culebra, and I am here, on the Big Island. I could not stay, except overnight. They are tearing up what few streets and roads there are on the island to install a sewer system, but someone is not planning this correctly. They tear up the road, install something, repair, then go back and tear up some more, and on and on, and it's a mess, a dusty mess, cement dust mess and diesel smoke mess. I couldn't bear it any longer, each breath I took was painful on account of my allergies. I had to say goodbye to my grandmother, and I promised her over and again that I would return, but, I saw it in her eyes, that she believes she would never see me again. I kissed her, very gently, and then kissed her again. I don't KNOW when I'll see her again, and she is my heart, she is the heart that beats for me when I am longing for Culebra; to me, my dulce ancianita, my beloved little grandmother, IS Culebra. How can I go back if she is no longer there? To what would I go back if she isn't there? An island without a heart is just another piece of land, floating in the Caribbean...

This might have been taken about 5 years ago, but I'm not sure. She is about 20 or 30 lbs lighter now.

My body is racked with pain, although I know I am not in as much pain as my beloved grandmother, but this will go away. The pain of not seeing her, I think that will never leave me. I asked the good Lord to let me see her just one more time, just one last time. This has been my prayer for the last two years, and He graciously granted it. I even asked my employer to advance me some money so I could take the trip, and he did not hesitate one instant. I do not know if this had inconvenienced him, but he never said a word, just told me to look at my bank account and see if the money he transfered had gone through. He sent me double what I asked of him, and told me to let him know if I needed more. What more could I ask?

When I told Eddie, my dh (dear husband) a little later, since I don't give bad news to someone who is driving or going to drive, he told me, "You must go." Again, no hesitation, so I knew the Lord was opening the door for me to go. I am so grateful that God granted me my heart's desire. But now, I am selfish. I asked for one last time, and, like my nephew, when he was a 2 year old who would ask for one last cookie, and I would give him one, would then ask "for 'nother last one".

Lord, can I have 'nother last one? Please?


Busy Grandma Elsie said...

O Enid, How I understand what you are suffering. I made my great grandmother's 100th birthday cake in 1959 and how I miss seeing her ,setting in her rocking chair, doing needlepoint on a apron .She died 3 months later and I was 18 years old!But I have good memories that I take out every now and then and ponder upon.No one can take memorires away from you.She will feel your love across the miles .Can you send her letters or cards ?
God is good.<><

River Glorious said...

Elsie, would you believe it, I have not sent her any letters, although I can. My uncle can read it to her, and she would probably put it on her bed beside her, to just touch it now and then. She is like that... Thank you, friend.