Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dear Nonnie,

What was it like all those days and nights in the retirement home? What were you retiring from? Do we ever really retire? So many in the family felt that you gave up too easily, lost all desire to walk, to try to make maintain your vitality, to keep your strength and balance. That you didn’t try.

I remember you at Poppie’s grave. “So this is it Walt?” You had a waver in your voice and you threw your hands up, but you didn’t look up at the sky. In my faith hopeful mind, I expected you to utter a prayer to keep Poppie safe and keep him until you meet again. But there was nothing more said. I now realize there is no way to imagine what you were thinking or feeling in that moment. Maybe a handful of people attending the funeral could have understood to their core what it meant to lose a life-long partner. Maybe I never will know that feeling. Juan and I have so many years ahead of us, God-willing.

You stopped cooking for yourself. After cooking for 9 people on a regular basis, for more than 20 years, and running after all the requirements of Poppie’s tastebuds for so long, who wants to cook for one? How is it possible to measure such a small amount? Are there spoons and cups small enough for such a small appetite? You stopped brushing your hair, looking after your appearance, there was a vacancy in your voice.

I remember your vitality Nonna. From your retelling of your personal history, I imagine your youthful vivacity, your energy, your dreams. You had such thick beautiful almost black hair. You never lost that dense waviness, that lush darkness that complemented your pale soft skin. The perfect slope of your nose and high cheekbones, blue like the midway level of the ocean, not too clear like the surface not too dark like the depths, but in-between. Which is how you felt when Poppie past. Part of you left with him and part of you stayed behind. For me it was a gift that you went on to survive so many years past Poppie’s death. For you in many ways, I could see that it was a form of torture. To be a survivor.

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