She didn’t have much, but she left me with a recording of her singing which has meant the world to me. More than anything materialistic. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
And there isn’t a day that goes by honestly where I don’t think of her still. I won’t wash her clothes because they still smell like cigarettes and her perfume. Whenever I smell a smoke, it reminds me of her. Her sitting there, alone most of time, being strong willed and focused on taking care of everyone around her. Perhaps, more than taking care of herself honestly.
My grandmother looked after several siblings and didn’t have much of a childhood. Like a lot of kids out there during that time period, she was faced with responsibilities well beyond her capacity to fulfill them at the time. She lost siblings to diseases, did laundry by hand, and still managed to take care of everyone around her. They worked in the fields, but still went hungry. There was no running water. Buckets had to be brought from a well. She carried them like a warrior I’m sure.
She was a fragile person. The kind that rarely exists now in this world. The kind of person you would look at and just know she had the will of a sorceress and the heart of an angel. She was the kind of person who would give you her last dollar even if it meant she would starve herself. At times, she was misunderstood but I must admit she had an intuition made of gold. She stood for what she believed in. Honestly, it was difficult to find any hypocritical behaviors from her. I remember as a child she told my mother to take the clothes off the clothesline when we never had a problem in years. My mom didn’t and the next day, they were all stolen. She was the kind of person who sensed when something was off, and honestly was ninety percent correct with her instincts.
Losing her was a slow process. As if, she was holding onto this earth with all of her will power. I remember staring at her body, barely recognizable, seeing her artery pulsing in her stomach, knowing it could rupture at any time, at any moment. I remember secretly praying to a higher power to not let her go that way. For weeks, she fought. The doctors rarely had seen anything like it. Her small, weak, 4’11” body could not overpower her mind. She needed love, that’s why she hung on. She had a life full of taking care of everyone, playing the caretaker role without anyone realizing how strong she was until she was gone. And I am not saying by any means she was unappreciated. She was just so good at taking care of everything, it was almost as if no one ever thought to thank her. It was almost as if it was just her “role” in life. But it wasn’t just a “role.” It was really the way she showed her love and kindness.
I knew at that moment what she needed. While everyone was busy in the kitchen, I felt this strange calmness come over me. As if I knew it was time to let her go and I had to be strong for her and say the right things. I held her hand, told her I know Papa loves her, & I know everyone loves her for what sacrifices she made. I told her even though they may not say it enough, that it was known she had a heart like no other person out there. She squeezed my hand as a tear came down her face, and as she took her last breath, I saw her smile. I saw her finally let all the pain and suffering go. The moment will be ingrained in my mind forever, just like her beautiful smile. I will always love you Nana.