There are nights, rather, mornings when I am roused from sleep, unable to return. There is much I finally do when I am up in the wee hours like catching up on reading or a knitting project. Lately though, all I do is lay in bed, hold August and pine for my Abuelita in Mexico. If I get out of bed I look at her photos and recall her voice and laugh, they are clear as a bell.
Ours is a tragic love story, never enough time together. I fell madly in love with her very early on. I can remember the scent of her soaps and perfume around her neck when she'd hug me,. My earliest memories have to be as young as 18 months old. I remember the way my hand felt in hers when we'd walk, I was no more than two or so. Things look so different when you are tiny and remember looking up at her with the pecan trees towering over us, the vineyard, the light on the street. She would spend several weeks with us. Those time are forever with me. She'd sing me songs, show me how to play games, tell me stories, teach me things, read to me, buy me anything I wanted, spoiling me rotten.
Eventually, she'd begin to make lists, there were phone calls, she'd gather her belongings, put away her knitting and crocheting needles, books and pack away all her clothes when she'd take them off the clothesline, instead of putting them in the drawers we had emptied for her. My mornings would become anxiety ridden. My heart would break. I'd say goodbye and cry for hours, once, for days. The weeks had not gone fast for us, in fact they had slowed down, I just wanted more.
I'd write letters, there were long distance phone calls but I wanted to be in her presence, sitting silent, under an invisible shade of her scent that was floral with a hint of sandalwood. I couldn't wait to see her again and looked forward to visiting. When we did visit her in Mexico, a cot would await me in her room. She would do just as she did when I last saw her. There was always a knitting or crochet project, a book or two she was reading and walks. In Mexico though, we really walked, for miles, for hours, from one side of town to the other and back. It was just the two of us. On those walks there was much silence. I loved that. We watched people, took in sounds, scents and now and then one of us would comment to the other. She pointed out things to me, told me jokes, I asked questions, then silence for blocks. Abuelita never had a problem with silence. I helped in the kitchen, watched her watch novellas and learned more and more how to knit and crochet. There was much joy, calmness and love just being with her. I was annoyed when her attention was demanded by anyone else. In fact, I'd grow anxious again as the cousins and aunts and uncles filled her house. Everyone would gather to see us. I'd lose her for a week or two, our lovely silence and schedules destroyed.
Tonight I miss her. She is still alive but I have not seen her in years. While Mexico seems so benign for travel, it is only to the tourist areas that a cheap trip can be found. My Abuelita lives off the beaten path a bit, enough to where a visit is pricey, and now, not even really safe. She can no longer see very well, she cannot hear me clearly over the phone. I send her telepathic conversations that I feel are so powerful she receives them because... Once, after she left me so heartbroken, I cried myself dry and then fell asleep. I dreamt we were on a train and she bought me an ice cream cone. It was so real. I told my mother of my dream. When my Abuelita arrived at her home in Mexico, she phoned my mother and told her she fell asleep and dreamt that I was with her and we shared a cone. It was then that I began to believe that we could speak to each other through dreams, thoughts, feelings. Our long walks had created an invisible, crocheted chain that tied us together.
This morning August woke up smiling and I greeted her with our usual, "Buenos dias". She sat up at the edge of the bed and looked at me and said a few things in babybabblese that left me happily frozen and astounded. Her eyes, the gesture in her hands as she spoke, her facial expressions, it took me back to being six or seven when Abuelita sat at the edge of my bed at night and read me Archie comics then gave me some consejos. Abuelita is in August, I see it in her hands, her stare, her sense of humor. I see it daily but moments like the one this morning allow no room for second guessing. I am teaching her the songs right now that my Abuelita taught me.
I wish I had been able to be around her daily just as I had my Grandmo living in the same town with me. To have both grandmothers at my side growing up would have been dreamy. As a child it was no small trauma to be apart from my Abuelita for months at a time. It's still painful but I have this adorable, baby version of her to help. The night before we'd visit her or await her arrival was just like Christmas eve. I couldn't sleep, I had excited butterflies in my stomach. The last time I saw her she seemed only slightly older, her hugs smelled just as they always had, there was Nivea lotion (from the tin), Palmolive bath soap, her powder...flowery sandalwood. Forever Abuelita, te quiero mucho, Abuelita.