I remember the delicious aroma coming out of her kitchen. That smell of café con leche and frijoles fritos on the sarten that she cooked daily on her gas range. I remember thinking back then how crazy it was that we were in the late '80s and she still had the same 1969 refrigerator. It required a special skill to open it. It was rusted and its once pearly white color had turned dingy. Inside this prehistoric appliance, she kept a jarro de vidrio con the best limonada I have ever had. I have never been able to recreate her limonada, nor her café con leche, nor her frijoles .
I learned from my mom later, as an adult, the many similarities I had with this woman, who I thought I didn't know and often felt was uninterested in her youngest set of grand children who terrorized her cats, her house, and her patience. Back then, we were the last ones in a string of fifty something grandkids ranging from the ages of 30 to three months. My mom was the youngest of 12 kids and my grandmother had her in her late forties. My mom cuenta que her older sisters practically raised her. I used to think how terrible, to have your older kids do your job. Not until I became a mom, two decades later, that it all made sense and I had to swallow my judgement.
When I had my daughters, I found myself thinking about mi abuela often. I realized how though things must have been for her with 12 kids to raise. The two oldest died as toddlers from common childhood diseases. I could only imagine how devastated she must have been and how strong she had to be to endure that and all the terrible tragedies she had to face throughout her long life. The more I related to her as a mother, the closer I felt to her.
At that time in my life, I was struggling and overwhelmed, going through the motions with two toddlers, and feeling inadequate as mother, when one night, in a dream, she came to me. She was comfortably sitting on the big leather chair in my living room. I walked in and saw her and felt such joy to realize she had come to visit me.
She looked younger and she wasn't hurting from her artritis. She looked happy and serene. I was at a loss of words. – ¿Que ya no saludas? She asked. I rushed and hugged her. She told me the girls were beautiful and that I was doing a good job. I woke up feeling peaceful and blessed. I sat up in bed and felt in my heart that abuela and I were going to be friends forever and I remembered what she used to say those nights when we would be afraid after telling ghost stories: - ¡A los vivos hay que tenerles miedo! No a los muertos.
Marcela de Allemand
Marcela de Allemand:
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Marcela A wife, a mother of three, with a passion for writing essays, poetry and short stories that reflect her bicultural upbringing. She currently lives in South Louisiana.