Adios, Abuela

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.

Bittersweet memories.

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La casa de l’abuela.

Seventh day of Christmas

Je suis fatiguée (et plutôt énervée) d’entendre le positivisme “obligé” de fin d’année partout et particulièrement sur FB où, comme par magie, tout le monde semble avoir eu “une année excellente !”. Oh vraiment? Depuis quand est-ce qu’une série de photos raconte-t-elle l’histoire au complet? Ai-je pensé à prendre des photos la journée où j’ai passé mon temps à nettoyer la terrasse au jet d’eau parce que les enfants ont vomit l’un après l’autre? Ou pendant la semaine où je devais avoir l’air d’une mort-vivante parce que le mari et les enfants toussaient toute la nuit et me réveillaient à plusieurs reprises, que les journées étaient trop chaudes pour rester éveillée et trop chaudes pour se reposer sans se retrouver dans une flaque de transpiration?

Alors, si j’ai eu une année pourrite (comme disent les québécois), je fais quoi, hein? Je fais semblant d’être d’accord avec tout le monde et me colle un faux sourire? Non, moi je veux gerber sur l’hypocrisie. (Et tout particulièrement l’hypocrisie de ceux qui se devraient d’être honnêtes avec eux-mêmes tout d’abord et leur entourage ensuite, ne serait-ce que pour montrer le bon exemple… mais je divague et ça devient cryptique là).

Comme vous avez pû le constater cette année n’a pas été jubilante. Et j’ai voulu m’épargner de revivre tour à tour ma mélancolie, ma tristesse et ma mauvaise humeur sur ce blog. En fait les deux dernières années ont été assez difficiles. Non pas que nous aillons manqué de quoi que ce soi. Nous avons un toit sur notre tête et de quoi manger tous les jours, et quelques kilos de stress en trop pour le prouver (soupir). Nous sommes tous relativement en bonne santé malgrés les nombreux virus auxquels nous avons été exposés depuis que nous sommes en latitude équatoriale. Grâce à Dieu, nos enfants grandissent et sont en bonne santé. Ça pourrait être pire.

Quand je dis que c’était difficile c’est que moralement D et moi avons été à ras des pâquerettes depuis que nous sommes ici. Le déménagement à été extrême de tous les côtés. Le plus évidement est le changement climatique, bien sûr, et tous les ajustements qu’on dû subir nos systèmes imunitaires. Et puis culturellement c’est aussi d’une extrême à l’autre. Les canadiens étant extrèmement polis et réservés, nous sommes atterris au fin fond du Brésil où les gens sont… tout le contraire. Même pour D qui est brésilien, le Brésil où nous habitons maintenant n’est pas le Brésil où il a grandit. Les gens du Nord n’ont pas le même niveau d’éducation que dans le Sud. Beaucoup de gens que nous cotoyons sont semi-analphabètes.

Un homme d’église a fait une promesse qu’il n’a pas tenu. Ça n’est pas nouveau, ni la première fois que ça nous arrive, mais démoralisant tout de même. En conséquant, nous avons donc passé une année de plus parmis les cartons dans l’éventualité d’un déménagement imminent qui n’est pas arrivé.

À l’approche des fêtes de fin d’année, quand nous pensions ne plus être ici depuis plusieurs mois, je pense que j’ai connu pour la première fois de ma vie des attaques de panique: immenses angoisses passagères avec sensation de claustrophobie, vertiges, et difficulté à respirer.

Heureusement que notre foi n’est pas en les hommes mais en Jésus, le commencement et la fin, à la fois vrai homme et vrai Dieu, et ça c’est une consolation immense. Si ma foi était en les hommes, je dois avouer que je serais en un bien pire état… C’est pour dire.

Alors je vous souhaite malgrés tout une bonne année 2015 et que, parmis les hauts et les bas, les joies et les tristesses, les rires et les larmes, on puisse tous en ressortir un peu plus forts.

Post traumatic book insomnia

It’s past 2AM and I’m still awake. I will most likely be dragging my feet all day tomorrow.

For the past week I have been living a double life. I was reading novels, a trilogy, that I couldn’t put down. I was thoroughly enjoying it, but then it went from bad to worse. Now I’m mourning the loss of a character. At least then didn’t ALL DIE in the end, I guess that’s a relief.

Since I was a kid, I’ve had those phases. The Intense Reading phases. When my life seemed boring, difficult, or sad, I used to borrow a dozen books from the public library and put my real life on hold. That’s maybe why I later fell in love with the world of theater and the opera. I identify myself so deeply with the characters of the stories in novels, play and films, that I feel like I’m someone else for a few days. Or having an excited chat with a new best friend. (That sounds a bit crazy as I read over).

My memory works in a strange way though. I live the lives of the characters intensely while I’m reading, and when the story is a good one, and well written, it stays with me. I daydream about them for a week or two after I put the book down. I try to relive the great scenes. I imagine a different ending when I didn’t like what I read… but then… I forget. Sure, I do remember the main characters, the beginning, the end, and maybe the big lines of the story, but when, months or years later, I remember that it was a good book, I can read it again and still delight in the details because they are new to me. Over and over again.

This is why I like happy endings. Because it’s one of the few pieces of the story that I will probably remember. Bad endings leave a sour taste in my mouth. I feel like I’ve been wasting my time, struggling though the pains and difficulties of the characters with no reward in the end. Real life is hard enough as it is. I like my escapes to be pleasant.

D and I have this “rule” for the story lines in books or movies. If the story is full of trials and difficulties and despair, by all means, please find a way to have a happy ending. Otherwise instead of spending a couple of days with a happy smile and pleasant memories in my mind, I will have an insomnia trying to forget the bad ending, have a headache the following day, and spend the rest of the week twisting my mind in believing that I could write an alternate version or trying very hard to forget that life is, indeed, unfair.

If you haven’t read the Divergent trilogy, I don’t want to spoil it for you. The books are “page turners” as they say. The story is fast paced. You want to become a fighter like Tris and Tobias. You remember what it’s like to be in love for the first time, the tightening of your heart when you look at the person you love. How infuriating it is that these two don’t have time to enjoy time together, but there is hope ! Their time of peace will come ! There is a light at the end of the tunnel, there has to be, right ? After all you have been reading three novels non-stop for the past seven days. Turning the pages like a maniac. Thinking about the story when you are not reading and wondering what is coming next, in the next chapter, the next book. Wondering how this will all end.

But now that I’m done, I am left with an aching heart. I’m not sure that I want to see the movies.

Unless they change the ending.