Grandma is ninety-five, and her health is not what it used to be. This woman is a true matriarch. She is from Columbia, has seven kids, two of which she has outlived, and has been on her own since Tolland Olland died in the late seventies.
Growing up, we visited her in Houston a few times a year, mainly over the summer and the usual holidays of Thanksgiving, and Christmas. As she got farther along in age, she sold her house in Houston, and bought one next to my Aunt out by Lake Travis.
After Pops got out of Con College back in '02, he moved in with her, and has been taking care of her over the years. She's always been pretty a hardcore, no-nonsense, tell-you-what-she-thinks kind of gal. She also used to like play people against each other, as in, when so-and-so leaves the room, she tells you something she doesn't like about them, and you better expect the same when you leave the room.
I do love her dearly. She was the only family member that was there for me after Pops went to the klink. She lived just around the corner, and I used to go over and cook her dinner -- which was always too hot, even if I just used black pepper -- do my laundry, laugh, and watch her 'shows'. I tried to get her to watch Dogma once, which was a bad idea, being that she is a Roman Catholic (Vatican I, even).
So. Flash forward to today. Most of you readers out there in the blogosphere don't know this, but now you will. I'm not very good with family. My Father is the person who matters most to me in my family, and the only person who I regularly communicate with. I haven't spoken to my Bahamian family in a few years, and I like them. Dad's family... well. I like a few of them, but I abstain from family functions, and politics, because, honestly, they're nasty. I won't go into this now, but let it be known that I do not approve of many of these peoples actions, and they would probably say the same thing about mine. So. Be. It.
Anyway, he was telling me that she was passing lots of blood, and that things didn't look good for her. I wanted to make sure that he was okay with this. He has lost a lot of good people in his day, so I know he is at peace with death, and its reality. She is cool lady, and I would have liked to ask her more questions about some of her thoughts, but I haven't spent much time with her lately. In fact the last time I think I saw her was in December, and she doesn't live far away, but isn't quite mobile.
For all I know this could just be a bump in the road for her, and she'll out live us all, yet if not, I will celebrate her life, and its impact on mine. I'll remember all the sleep soup she's made, and san cocho. How she would get up really early in the morning at her house in Houston and sit at the table drinking Mocha. Or how she would take long distance phone calls from her sister in New York, speaking passionately in spanish in the chair in the little hallway. I especially will always remember the word carajo, which means several things, like hell, fuck, or dammit.
She's a trip. Regardless of what's happening in that ICU room -- for the record, I'm not a fan of ICU (or CCU) after seeing my Mom basically live there for months with that damned snorkel thing down her throat -- she will live on in my mind and in my heart. I felt compelled to write about this here. There are no pictures of steaks, or bands, or anything like that, just some thoughts on this situation.
Death is something I've come to terms with a long time ago. I understand mortality, and the fact that none of us can cheat it. This lesson came from the loss of my own Mother when I was twelve. This understanding has been a cornerstone in shaping my beliefs around life itself. A reason to truly love, and enjoy my life, with all its fleeting insignificance, joy, sorrow, tangible significance, impact, pain, bliss, highs, lows, and in-betweens.
My Father once told me that, "the secret to life is, there is no secret." I believe this. It's sort of all laid out in front of you like a game of Solitaire. You know all the cards, just not when they'll be revealed. I like that. It gives me strength, strength I want to share with others through loving life, and knowing that we can overcome all adversities thrown our way. Of course, he also told me, "keep your peter in your pants." Which is also good advice in several situations....
Life is beautiful, and so are you.