As I prepare for a trip home, I know that Grandma would have been worried. She hated planes. Was in only one once her entire life, but that was enough. She was afraid of me driving, of me flying, of me being far away, of all the bad people. I know that once I would walk in her house, her smile would be one of relief as well as happiness to see to me.
The last words I spoke to Grandma were that I loved her, and not to worry about me. Those were always my parting words to Grandma.
“Paying respects” is too cold-sounding of a term for this trip, because I love her so much.
Grandma grew in a time and place where women were not educated, but charged with building homes. The life this woman had is remarkable, and her strength seems unfathomable. Without her determination and endurance, I wouldn’t exist. She not only gave me my roots, but she kept our family together, reminded us of where we all came from, and that remembrance builds character. I believe her strength may be a inheritable trait. My aunts are tough as nails. My sister and I don’t fear adventure even though Dad keeps telling us to get our butts back home. When tough times have come, there is this inner strength I can only credit to the Holy Spirit and my family.
Grandma was a very intelligent woman with common sense and wit. She was funny. I remember sitting with her in the cab of her truck when she and my grandpa would sell molding at the flea market, and we would give me advice on career and love. Her words made sense to me, and she always reminded me of my worth.
She prided herself on her cooking, even after she couldn’t anymore. She tried to teach me to roll tortillas. I might have gotten some of her stubbornness, but not her coordination.
Even though some may feel contrary, I believe my grandmother lived a complex life, not easily understood. At least in this granddaughter’s eyes. On one hand she never left home. She worried about all of us. And even though she conceded that times had changed, she still wanted me to have a husband to take care of me now and children to take care of me when I got old. Then, on the other hand, she was orphaned at two years old. She lived a hard life in which she worked constantly to build a family. In that respect, she knew women were capable of handling difficulty. I know she wanted for me, what she had found. A man dedicated to her completely. My grandfather is the only one I have known, and in his quiet way, he loved her so much that it made her life sweeter, complete.
She prayed for me every night. And her prayers and her example helped get me through college. Even though she won’t see me one day get married, or she won’t hold my children, she saw me graduate college with honors. She appreciated how hard I worked, and she loved seeing pictures of places I have been. She would point to my new home and say, “Everything’s so pretty there.”
Now Grandma is finally home, and she finally gets to experience how incredibly beautiful everything is. An experience I cannot even imagine. I’m excited for her. She loved pretty things. She must be ecstatic right now.
She has no worries for me. I have such loss in my heart, because I know I won’t see that smile, I won’t get to talk to her about work, about men, about the past and the future. But I carry her with me, and am comforted in believing that she will see me get married, have children, roll the perfect tortilla, and tell my children about where they came from. From blood, tears, love, strength and a deep understanding of the unconquerable soul.