Her Faith Is Now Sight
They're burying my abuelita today. I won't be there, but fortunately my dad was able to fly out soon after we got the news on Thursday. Although in Peru it is customary to bury a person the day after she passes away, the family chose to delay my abuelita's funeral long enough for my dad, her firstborn, to arrive. I am glad he will be there.
It will be strange to visit Peru next week with my abuelita gone. The family revolved around her. And despite the fact that thousands of miles separated us from her, she was a strong presence even in my nuclear family. I am certain that her steadfast Christian example shaped the way my dad treats my mom, as well as the way my parents raised me and my brother. Every single time I talked with my abuelita, she told me how much she loved me and that she was praying for me.
She and my abuelito, both of whom devoted their lives to the ministry, made a lot of sacrifices to provide for their family of nine. My dad remembers how his mother's hands used to bleed from doing housework. And she was always trying to find a way to make things last a little longer. When she could still see, she would tear plastic bags into strips and then crochet them into rugs. I didn't appreciate the beauty of these recycled treasures until I was older, so I got rid of most of them years ago. But I still have a lovely purse that she crocheted for me out of clear plastic bags, and I cherish it.
My abuelita was the family historian. She loved to talk and, if you let her, she could go on for hours, usually telling stories about people long dead. She had such a soft voice that I sometimes could not even hear what she was saying, but she did not seem to mind. She just wanted to reminisce. I was the first grandchild and I was born on my dad's birthday, so that day was like a national holiday for my abuelita. She would send us beautiful birthday cards decorated with traditional Peruvian scenes, and inside she would write: "¡Viva el 3 de setiembre!" For a while, she would even kill two turkeys on our birthday, and the family in Peru would feast in our honor.
My abuelita could also be quite cheeky. In Peru, we would say that she had a chispa, a spark. She retained it even when she was so sick that she could barely speak. In fact, when we thought she was near death on our last visit, I mentioned to her that I was growing my hair to donate it, and she immediately said, "Te regalo mis trenzas" ("I will my braids to you"). We all just had to laugh through our tears. I am sure that next week I will hear many more stories about all the funny things my abuelita did and said during her long and blessed life.
Everyone who knew my abuelita will miss her terribly. But even as I mourn, I am reminded that this is also a time to rejoice. Her pain and suffering are over, and she is finally home.
|My abuelita in 1946, at age 30 (left), and in 2004, at age 88 (right)|