My beloved grandmother passed away this weekend. I flew home as soon as I heard she was ill. I made it to the hospital 10 minutes after she passed. I didn’t get to say goodbye, to hold her hand one final time, to tell her that I loved her or thank her for all the wonderful memories of my childhood.
I grew up in New York City and every Saturday we would hop on the 7 train, from Manhattan to Queens, to spend the day with my Abuela. She was the only person I knew who owned a house. An actual house, not an apartment. And she had a swimming pool in her backyard! We would flop around in the pool, dry ourselves on the grass (yes, actual grass, not the small patches we were used to in the City), explore her basement for lost treasures, and sit down to the same meal every Saturday. It was wonderful, It was 17 years of Saturdays before I moved away for College and never came back.
Now I find myself in my childhood home, er.. apartment. I’ve been here before obviously, but it’s different this time. It’s bittersweet this time. At 36 years old, this is the first death I’ve ever experienced. She was the only grandparent I have ever known. The others passed away before I was born. I don’t know how to act, I don’t know how to think. All I want to do at the moment is run away, go back home and fall into my wife’s arms, into my familiar environment.
I’ve been coping by distracting my mind. I’ve been crocheting like a mad woman. I stayed up until 3:00 am. I made my mother some lovely gifts that I will have to ship back to her because I ran out of color. I also took a good look around the apartment and realized where I get my craftiness from. My mother has always been quite crafty. I just never really noticed. Anytime I would go on summer vacation to the Dominican Republic, I would come back to a whole new room. One time, she hand painted a huge apple tree on my wall with the names of every member of our family. She drew us (my older brother, mom and dad) holding hands under the tree. I wish I had a picture of it. She makes all of the souvenirs and gifts for every party, Holiday, celebration. It’s nice that I have continued her crafts and have passed it on to my daughters.
Here is a very small sampling of what I found during this visit back home. Next time I come back, I’m sure I’ll find something completely different.
This is her Easter decor. Notice the ‘eggs’ in the basket?
I found this piece above her living room wall. She f aux painted the walls and blocked off the center of it. She hand painted some flowers and glued translucent colored stones to compliment the piece.
She did the same thing here
A hand made rug. She made this out of pieces of unused fabric. She also made a couple for my daughters (I’ll add pictures of those when I get home)
And I was pleasantly surprised to see this on her bed. This is the first Afghan I ever made. Way back when, after my failed attempt at a scarf. It stood the test of time. I was shocked!
I’m going back home today, this evening in fact. I’ll take all the cherished memories back home with me. And honor my grandmother by making new ones with my own little family.