So I realized I made a huge mistake. I shared the reality of who left without really telling you who she was. See, she wasn’t like any other woman you’ve met. She was old school, but better. She was like that vintage dress you want to hang in a special casing, have it protected, untouched, but on display because such beauty should be shared without being messed with.
A smoker since her teenage years, grandma got to enjoy the toxic pleasure of cigarettes until the age of about 90 (if I wait until the details arrive we’d be here forever. Yet another negative of living away). She started smoking the non-filtered, less toxic cigarettes. A past smoker myself, I could imagine her cool demeanor as she smoked, showing off to her younger sisters, cousins, even friends. I can’t say this for sure, but knowing her now I can imagine I have a lot of her characteristics and I would even say we’re pretty similar in personality, character and temper. Therefore, she would have been a magnet, the kind that people are drawn to for no apparent reason, all they knew is that they had to be around her. I could see all that slickness my aunts carry and that sass personified in her. She was a force to be reckoned with, up until her last moment. One of the first signs that it was her time, was the absence of fire in her eyes.
She smoked until she was forced out of her home in order to smoke. Her first great-grandson, Andres Camilo, was born with tons of allergies and one of them was smoke. Therefore the house, where grandma, my cousin Lina and her son lived, could not smell like smoke. So she had to sit on the stairs outside her own apartment in order to enjoy a very bad habit, one that was part of her by that time. She puffed and yelled and made angry faces, but yet every time she wanted a cigarette, she went outside. That’s how she loved, loud and almost against her will, but still loved a lot.
She was both rough and soft, sweet and yet feisty, she would have an opinion about every bit of you and still love you overwhelmingly. I liked her ways so much, I took some pages of her book.
She loved to play “table games”. So my afternoons in her house consisted of dominoes, card games, Parcheesi (parques), “Damas Chinas” (if you know the name in English, help is appreciated). But this transcended to our family times during the holidays, as everything else she did. I remember a game that lasted for over 5 hours of Parques. Maybe it was around 8 hours of playing JUST ONE game, I forgot who won and I hope it was me. And she was there, from beginning to end, fighting every injustice and giving us some referee-like looks, so you best believe we played on our worst behavior.
She was 98 and for 98 years this world was hers. She had friends and a very active social life. She had a husband who gave her 9 children, 3 of which didn’t make it past days of life. She had one male child who was the apple of her eyes. She had 7 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren who added to her joy. She gave life a different aroma, one full of natilla and buñuelos, of festivities and homemade birthday cakes, of colorful dresses and tons of good times, of which the best were right by her side.
Her silver hair was her best accessory, in my eyes. It complemented her, it enhanced her beauty, it made her softer and lovely and so much more feisty. I love every bit of her. And I’ll miss every bit of her, but worst than missing her would have been had I never met her, I wouldn’t have all her wonder to miss.