Originally written in November of 2010; five years before I myself became a grandmother (His Name is Avi). And now, all I can think of is Gregoria.
I lay under the pillows as still as I could. She would come in soon. The anxiety of anticipation made me wiggle my feet protruding from the left side of the bed. Shh I reminded myself with a giggle jammed firmly against the back of my throat. That sound came out…you know the sound you make when you are trying to swallow laughter.
I could hear her moving about the room. She had in her seventy second year of life and 50 something year of marriage asked my grandfather to sleep in the far bed room of the three room house. He had dutifully rested his head a the west end of the house so that I could sleep with her in her bed. She loved me and I loved her.
Everyday I would get to her house after school and have a mid afternoon snack. I would sit with my grandfather, who always sat near the wall heater in the winter and at the kitchen dinette table during less cold seasons. We would watch the Three Stooges together. He thought they were hilarious and I thought my grandfather was hilarious. He laughed heartily and looked at me often as if to say, “did you see that?”
My grandmother would sometimes let me spend the night even though I had already spent the whole week with her. I could never get enough of her. We would walk around the yard, wash down driveways, pick pecans from the giant tree in her yard. Sometimes we would walk through the picket fence dividing the property into two separated lots; my grandparents’ and my aunts. We would visit my aunt or just water her plants for her so she would have less to do when she got home from work.
Sometimes my grandfather would let me go to the store with him. We would walk slowly and carefully down an adjacent street to the corner store. He would buy me a treat and I waited for him to select what ever it was my grandmother needed and then we would head back to the little house with two orange trees and a pecan. Chinese people owned that market. I don’t know how they communicated, but they did.
My grandmother would come into the room and take each hair pin from her head. She would gently unroll her long gray braid until it dangled down the exact center of her back all the way to her waist. Then she would take her braid apart and brush her hair. She would turn down the bed spread to reveal her flowery sheets and tell me to climb in.
No matter what time of night, once my grandmother and I were in bed she helped me say my prayers. I learned them all with her help, in Spanish: Our Father, Hail Mary, Act of Contrition; all of them. She would say a phrase and I would repeat it. If I mispronounced something, she would quickly correct me and move on. I loved this ritual.
She sat on the end of the bed to brush her hair. I exploded out from under the pillows and yelled, “boo!” She acted as if she were frightened beyond understanding and pulled me from the top of the bed and sat me down for my hair to be brushed. “Shh,” she said, “you’ll wake your grandfather. Now hold still.”
This is one of my fondest memories of my grandmother Gregoria Vidaurri. She died soon after my tenth birthday. But she taught me to pray before she left. What more could I want?
For years I believed and still do believe that my grandparents are like characters in a book. If I open a book and read it, the character comes to life. So I decided that every time I think of my grandparents they will know that I am thinking of them in heaven. They will come to life to see what I am doing.
Right now she is watching me write. I have to think of her everyday so that she can be alive everyday.
Likewise we need to think of each other everyday so that we can be alive everyday.
(And I will teach Avi to pray.)