Mia: Shaken Not Stirred

The true life stories of a NYC female.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Twenty-Three Years

My grandfather was staring at my mother. He’d been giving her ‘the look’ which she was trying to ignore ever since she’d returned from the cemetery. “I don’t know why you go there.”Mom sighed before replying, “Someone has to go and stomp on the ground and make sure she doesn’t dig herself out.” Her twisted sense of humor has always been her defense mechanism. My grandfather was not amused; he rolled his eyes at her. “Her anniversary is not for a few more days” “I know daddy but I figured if it rained I wouldn’t be able to go and I wanted her flowers to be there on her anniversary.”

Twenty three years ago today at 11:15 pm my then 22 year old mom had her world shattered when the phone rang and she was told her 37 year old mother had just died.It wasn't only her world that was destroyed, my grandfather was rocked to his foundation. He’d always been a paragon of strength throughout his life but when faced with the loss of the woman who’d been the love of his life he couldn’t cope. Despite the fact that they gone their separate ways while my mother was a child they never divorced each other. Despite their many differences over the years the one constant thing about them was their love for their children, and their love and lust for each other that never seemed to die. They just couldn’t live together. The past was always an insurmountable barrier or so my mother had always thought.

“We were getting back together, did you know that?”, My grandfather asked my mother as she placed a cup of coffee in front of him. My mother was shocked by her father’s revelation. She knew her parents had been talking to each other on the phone everyday ever since she’d given birth to me. She knew that occasionally grandpa took grandma out to lunch. She’d even blushed a time or two when she’d seen the way her parents had looked at each other when they thought no one was looking. Her and her brother joked about it all the time. Still the news that they’d planned on getting back together had stunned her. “We had it all planned. That’s why I brought the house. We figured you and your brother would give us lots of grandchildren. The house was always going to be filled with them. We were going to grow old together just like we’d planned on doing when we were kids. We were going to surprise you guys with it on Christmas."

My mom smiled at her father. Something in her brain clicked. “So that’s what this is all about…you’re angry at her for leaving you again. That’s why you’ve never gone to her grave in all these years?” My grandfather sat silently staring into his cup of coffee. “Ah yeah that’s what it is.” My mom said. She excused herself and several minutes later came out of her room carrying several ancient looking black and white composition notebooks. She placed them in front of her father. His eyes opened wide when he flipped one of the books open. He looked at the page and placed his open palm on it. “This is your mother’s handwriting.” Mom nodded her head. “I think you should have them. Do me a favor; wait until you get home to read them. ” My grandfather shrugged his shoulders and flashed his dimples. I’d always wondered why my grandfather never remarried. He’s never been at a loss for women chasing after him. In that moment as he stared at his wife’s handwriting I finally understood why. He was still in love with her.

She’d given him her mother’s journals. I was familiar with the contents. They were love letters, poems, and musings about her life, and about him. I’d read them a few times they were a testament of her undying love for him the last entry had been written the day before she died. He’d known about the journals but had never expressed interest in seeing them so mom kept them locked away. Her father’s revelation made her realize he needed to see them.

This morning on her mother’s twenty third anniversary my mother went to the cemetery accompanied by her brothers. My grandmother’s grave is always well attended. Each and every time I’ve gone by I’ve found flowers on her grave from one of her many nieces, nephews, siblings, friends, and children. Her grave never lacks a floral arrangement especially on milestone days like her anniversary or birthday so it was no big surprise to find flowers on the grave. Except that today it looked as if a flower shop had exploded red carnations grandma’s favorite flower, all over her grave. There were no less than a dozen bouquets of red carnations placed around her grave. My uncles stepped up and read the cards aloud to my mother. They were from her father. Each and every bouquet held a sentiment expressing his still undying love for her and his sorrow at losing her. Several of my uncles openly wept.Until that moment they'd never realized the depth of his emotions for their mother.

My mother asked her brother for his cell phone and called her father, “Daddy I’m at the cemetery. Thank you.” “ Those were her favorite flowers, her bridal bouquet was red and white carnations. No matter how much your grandmother tried to convince her to go with another flower my woman wasn’t having it. She was so stubborn just like you.” “Abuela used to tell me that all the time when I was a kid.” She replied. “ Did you know I was ten years old when I first met your mother? I couldn’t stop staring at her when I first saw her in the playground. I’d never seen hair that red before or dimples like hers. I was a goner." He began laughing as he recalled the time she had dyed her hair black to match his just to piss him off after he'd called her "red" one time too many for her liking.(see photo above) "God she was something else. Maggie, she had the most beautiful eyes. The same color as Mia’s. She was the first girl I ever kissed.”

My mother laughed as he continued. It had been twenty three years since he'd spoken about her with laughter in his voice.

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