My grandmother passed away this afternoon at the age of 96 years. When I was little, I saw her yearly as she would visit us from Puerto Rico annually and we would go there either at Christmas or in the summer. When she came to the States to visit, she and I would share a room. She would turn my room into an altar with Holy Water from the church and statues of Jesus and Mary greeting you as you walked into the door. My parents left for Puerto Rico this morning, and I was hopeful that my father would be at her side in time to read her a passage that is in the book, at the end of Chapter 3. He wasn’t able to do that, and so I am excerpting just a bit of it here, perhaps in hopes that if I send a piece of it out into the Universe, it might reach her.
From a draft of Hijas Americanas:
Like many Latinas, I had a spiritual role model at a young age. My abuelita was devoted to the Church like no one else I knew. When arthritis ravaged her knees so badly that she could no longer kneel in devotion through a full Mass, she stood instead. As a child, Abuelita periodically visited from the island and stayed for months on end, caring for us. In my earliest memory, Iam three years old, and have unwittingly sat atop an anthill while playing outside. Abuelita, hanging laundry out to dry, heard my screams and rescued me from the swarm of ants biting me. She yanked off my overalls, hosed me down, naked in the yard, and prayed silently over me while I recovered. Wide-eyed, I watched her lips rush through the prayers, as if the speed of her “amens” could counter the speed of the poison. She was how I saw God.
Note: I tried to post a picture of my grandmother here from a scan, but technology has twharted me. Just picture the face of a Puerto Rican angel. There you go. That’s her.