My soul mate had just returned from a 10 day foray into the wonders of a 30th High School reunion. She travelled to her native Peru…Lima to be exact. Now, for the uninformed, high school classes in other countries are much closer knit than the chew’um up and churn’em out variety we have here in the good ole U.S. of A. These folks stay in contact from year to year. They share their joys and sorrows via visits or emails or telephone. They remain close regardless of the number of miles that may exist between them.
The trip was planned as the 25th reunion came to an end.
Now my partner worked out every detail. She helped organize the lunches, teas and dinners. She helped plan the big party. She carefully plotted child care, travel and other details.
As the day drew near, emails, facebook notes, and phone calls were shared. Lists were checked to see who was going to be there. The apprehension of stepping out of her everyday life was over shadowed by the excitement of seeing familiar faces one more time. The fervor of being with her group, going back and sharing and the warmth of belonging called her long before the airline loudspeaker ann0unced her flight.
She had planned to stay with her grandmother, Abue and Tia Elena while in Lima. It was a typical 3 bedroom flat. Did I mention she had not been in Lima since she visited in 2007 to celebrate her grandmother’s 100th birthday? You see, her grandmother practically raised her. Her grandmother, widowed at a young age raised her mother and two aunts and one uncle. She did it alone. She never remarried. She raised her children and when the situation arose, she stepped in and helped raise her grandchildren.
The soft scent of rose water brings a rush of memories. When times were happy…Abue laughed. When times were sad….Abue consoled………..when times were hard………Abue squared her shoulders and moved forward. She taught grace and fortitude by example. She planted the seeds that grew into the behavior and grace and style of a woman that has become everything to me.
She greeted her with a gentle smile. She knew it was the big reunion and sat quietly while Lourdes left to go meet with her friends.
Laughter, hugs and tears of joy were shared as the group met that night. Lourdes was delighted to see so many had made the trip this time. They did all the things that you would imagine. They shared stories of families, babies, old love, new love, jobs and life in general. It was if the clock stopped and old friends had been transported back to a time before the ups and downs of life grabbed them. Wistful thoughts of roads taken and roads abandoned were forgotten in the quiet peace of remembering dreams planned
Abue sat in her favorite chair and waited.
Lourdes rushed home and spent a little more time with her grandmother. Her dear Tia Elena waited until her grandmother was asleep to share that Abue was gravely ill. She had but days or weeks left. 102 years had taken their toll. Lourdes was devasted. She was torn between the sorrow of losing the woman that has been her role model and source of quiet comfort all or her life and going out and celebrating with her friends.
She went to the party. She went to the cafe. She went to the park.
And she came home every evening and laid down with her grandmother…..her precious Abue……the soft scent of rose water wafting in the air.
She did miss some of the parties…….and she did miss some of the events, telling friends that the trip had worn her down and she needed a little time to rest. I know she really just wanted to stay and comfort this wonderful woman.
The reunion came to an end…………….the days after were spent sharing and preparing. Then it came time to go. It was time to say goodbye. It was time.
My dear Lourdes kissed her grandmother and posed for a picture, then another and then one more. She kissed her soft fuzzy cheek, inhaled the scent of rose water one more time and walked out the door. The ride to the airport took her through childhood streets and sounds of yesterday and memories rekindled at every turn.
Now, emails are shared with friends. Photos are posted of the event. Plans are being made for the 35th. She is back here, trying to get back into all the things that are going on here. She is trying to focus. She is seeking the strength of that dear 102 woman. She is waiting for her Abue to tug her foot.
Her mind is on her grandmother………her heart is in Lima.
I only wanted to share……….I do not know her grandmother. I know her. I know her strength in times of struggle. I know her compassion when others suffer. I know her wit in moments of gloom. I know her passion for justice. I know her love of her three children. I know her willingness to accept blame for error and her capacity to get it right. I guess… I do know her grandmother. I see Abue in Lourdes every day.
So, if you have a moment tonight, pause and say a little prayer for Abue, that her passing was soft and the landing gentle. A fine light was dimmed but so many jewels are left behind. These things are important to share now…before her memory fades. I sit thousands of miles away, touched by an angel, created by dear Abue.