This is not something I talk about a lot because, like with most things that are deeply personal, it hurts.
When I talk about my grandmother, I have to quantify it with "Y'know, the live one." My maternal grandmother, Lila, is a wonderful human who I've started becoming closer with over the last coupe of years and I'm really grateful for that.
But she's not the one I think of when I say "Abuelita" and even if it's a little unfair, she never will be.
For those of you who need the Cliff Notes, I was a caregiver to my paternal grandparents for 16 years (half of my life). It was hard at times, trying to navigate end of life care without having learn how to start my own, however, it was worth it.
I learned very valuable lessons from Lito (my grandfather, Marco, who passed in 2007) and Lita (my soulmate/grandmother who passed in 2015). They always believed in me, had great sense of humor and knew when to call bullshit. These are traits I try to make sure I keep in the family for years to come. *smiles*
Like with all family that you're close with, you occasionally have something come up when all you want to do is pick up the phone.
Yesterday was one of those occasions.
Roger and I were babbling with Elliott like we do (family discussions are real with nearly 6 month olds, you guys) and he made this face that was awesome.
"Dang, I wish I should probably call Abuelita to thank her for the gift," I trailed off, recalling another thing on a endless to-do list. As an afterthought which also serves as a coping mechanism, I added, "Y'know, the live one."
"Ugh, why do you always do that?!" Roger spit out. "Everyone knows who you mean."
I sat there for a minute and just stared at Ellie. "I know you know, but it's something I keep having to remind myself of. I'd give anything to call Lita up and hear her voice go 'EH!' or laugh or get excited about how big Ellio (cos that's totally how'd she'd say it) has gotten lately."
And Roger knew exactly what I meant.
Our eyes started to tear up. Roger's eyes only do that about once a year, so it was a big moment for him.
Roger adored Lita. They hardly spoke to one another because of the language barrier, but they cared for each other. Roger made sure he could help her whenever he could. He was so sweet to someone he wasn't even related to. And he found it really hard when she had to be admitted to the hospital in the end.
So we both thought of what Lita would think of Ellie. We both think about the laughs they'd share. We both picture the purest expression of sheer happiness on her face when she would see him smile at her.
Because he would (and probably does).
"Well, at least now I don't have to pick up a phone to call her," I concede. "I just can't hear her on the other end of the line."
We both stare at our son and a seat next to him.
I envision Lita without any pain, leaning down and making faces at him, her long beautiful nails tickling his toes...
... and then he started giggling.
Well timed, son.
With a small sad smile on my face, I looked over at the chair and whispered, "Te quiero mucho, mucho, como calucho, chiquita."*
Roger leaned over to lock eyes with the baby and cooed, "Ellio! Ellllllioooo! En que quedamos? Me quieres o no me quieres?"**
Even though we couldn't hear her on the other end of the line, the family felt complete for an instant. And that's all you really need, right?
May you all enjoy those who make you feel complete a little extra today.
Love and junk,
** - "Elliott! Elllllllliooooooottt! So whaddya say? Do you love me or do you not love me?"
These were both phrases Lita and I would say multiple times a day. We also followed the first one up with "What the hell is a calucho??"
The second phrase was accompanied by hand gestures, as if to say "Well then?! What say you??"
We always said "I LOVE YOU." We still do.