As I might have told you, my mother and all her side of the family live in Argentina. I was born there but we moved out of the country when my brother was only a couple months old. I was not even two years old. Growing up we did not visit regularly. Some long-distance families keep visiting every year, back and forth between their native and adoptive countries, but we didn’t. It just happened randomly, Abuela (grandma, in Spanish) would come spend a couple of months in France one year (I believe my dad paid her plane ticket), then some years later my mom, brother and I went to spend a couple of months in Argentina.
The last time I visited Abuela and Argentina, I was twenty years old. That was 15 years and a half ago. I had not seen my grandmother in many years (six or seven years prior). Since I was learning to dance tango in Montreal and had some money saved in my bank account (I was a very frugal student), all the reasons were there for a visit. I paid my own plane ticket to spend Christmas, my birthday and the New Year with Abuela, my aunts, uncle, cousins, all that side of the family (family and familiar), that I so seldom see. Three glorious weeks filled with warmth, family, fun and humidity (summers in Buenos Aires are unbearably hot and humid). At the end of my stay I remember telling l’Abuela that I wouldn’t wait another seven more years to come back. I would visit again in two years time at the latest. It wasn’t really a promise, but that was my plan.
However, a whirlwind called LIFE happened: I got married, my parents divorced, my mother moved back to Buenos Aires herself (she has lived in her current apartment for the past 10 years, but beside the pictures, I didn’t know her place). First, hubby and I didn’t have money at all, then when we did have a bit of it, we finally traveled to Brazil one year, to France the other, Argentina was next on the list, but… then the twins were born! Closely followed by the move number one, two, another baby, three, four… Sigh. You get the picture.
A couple of weeks ago, instead of our weekly Skype chat with my mother, I found an email informing me that Abuela was in the hospital. At the age of ninety-three, she was dying. I cried so much the following two days that I lost track of time. She was the only grandparent that I had known. It seemed logical, yet unreal, that she was going. It was time. Same Time that passes by flying, or Time that stands still, now Time was a finality. D asked me if I wanted to go. He could take care of the kids while I went to spend a few days with my mother. After all these years, it seemed that the opportunity had arisen. I don’t know if I would get there on time, but I thought I should try to see Abuela one last time.
And so, leaving my husband and children behind for the first time of our lives, I flew from Brasilia to São Paulo to Buenos Aires, on a Saturday, and hugged my mother very early on a Sunday morning. I had not seen her since the twins were babies, in Saskatchewan, five years ago.
Very early the following day, we took the train to the suburbs to visit the clinic.
Abuela was paralyzed and couldn’t speak, but when I arrived she moved her eyes and tried to lift her shoulder. I stayed many hours at her bedside. I prayed. I sang hymns. I held her hand. It was peaceful. In the afternoon she seemed to be sleeping.
The following morning my mother and I went to see the house where I have my earliest memories. They will most likely sell it. At noon, we were just out of the house on our way to the clinic, when we received the call from my aunts that l’Abuela had passed away.
It was a sad vacation, but a happy one too. Everyone was telling me that she had been waiting for me. I don‘t know if that should be any comfort, but I am so thankful that I was given the chance to be one last time with her.