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Grandma Leyva

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From the beginning, my grandma and my relationship could only be described as strong as Velcro, her always being there and I always physically or emotionally connected with her. In a picture of me when I was a baby, I lay in her wrinkled, golden toned arms that felt like the satin of her tamarisk satin night gown that flowed down to the floor. She sat in her favorite wooden rocking chair with its paisley red and magenta cloth pillow. Her understanding, gentle, chestnut eyes gazed down at me through her thick, see-through, and copper tinted glasses. Even though I was too young to remember this day in my life, looking back at this picture reminds me of the care, compassion, and strength that my grandmother radiated through the tips of her fingers.
Until I was 6 years old, my grandma, Carmen Leyva, lived with my family and me. I remember walking into her room where she usually was praying over her rosary beads and remember being surrounded by rich chocolate brown antique furniture and feeling like I was Sara Crewe from the movie A Little Princess I walked into another dimension, a dream world. Her golden brush sat on her bureau next to her crystal bottle of peach colored perfume. The tall posts of her bed were tall guards guarding the genuine queen, or at least that’s how I saw her. Next to the brush was a picture of her when she was 25 years old. My grandmother looked like Natalie Wood straight from the 1930 films, except more beautiful as her skin glowed as a fireflies does. I imagined her as a swan, floating across the room with an indescribable elegance.
With her age, she has developed arthritis in her legs and a slow waddle, it is hard to imagine the grace in her stride, yet every time she comes to visit, she walks in from outside with a slight upward slant of chin and a quiet confidence. As she walks into the house I immediately catch the fresh and sterile scent my grandmother which is quite contrary to the musty scent you get from a Senior Citizens Home. Her hair, thinning wisps now, is still shaped classily around her round face. In a mauve blouse and pants with an intricate ivory necklace she is a sophisticated debutant. I look further down to her shoes though, simple brown penny loafers, and see no matter how glorious she is, she still manages to stay level headed and down-to-earth. She had never forgotten where she had come from. Looking back up toward her face I see her lightly flushed cheeks curling upward to reveal the perfect crescent of her teeth, a smile leaps onto her face. My grandmother’s raspberry lipstick is carefully manipulated to her thin lips, minus the slight smudge on the bottom of her perpendicular teeth. Without realizing, a smile runs to my face as I reach out to stretch out to embrace my grandma. With tiny, wrinkled hands my grandma opens her arms to me and firmly secures me against her chest. “Ay, Lorena. Ay, mi nieta,” she pauses to flutter smooches against my forehead and cheeks between her words, “I missed you so much. Te amo, oo-oo-oo I do! Muah!” Her words always had a melodic current to it. Originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, she added a roll to the “r” as she pronounced my name. Whenever she says it, I feel at home.
Single-handedly raising 7 children, motherhood could never be erased from her natural habits. I remember whenever my brothers and I were sick my grandma would devotedly open her bed to us and slowly lull us to sleep by rubbing her backs methodically, never resting until we were asleep. In the frigid months of winter my grandma would snuggle up to our shivering legs and become our blanket from the ice outdoors. A knowledgeable teacher, my grandma was always teaching us lessons. She would always giggle and say, “Ay Lorena, never settle for a loser boy, always get the one who is handsome, rich, kind, athletic, and rich. Okay?”
Not only was she a mother figure to me but she was a friend too. Every night we would share a midnight snack of Fannie Mae’s Turtles together without my parents knowing. After we would watch old “I Love Lucy” episodes until our laughs dulled into a peaceful slumber. In the mornings, she would drive her old but tidy car with a picture of Mother Teresa and a wooden cross hanging from her rear view window to my uncle’s house so I could go swimming. She never came in the water, but it seemed that my grandmother’s smile reflected off the water, rather than the sun’s rays. She was the sun, dependable and constant.
Looking back at the picture of my grandmother and me, I realize how conveniently the picture well, pictured us. With her cradling me in her open and loving arms, I looked back into her eyes. That picture could be repeated and retaken throughout our lives together. Yes, are lives have become more separated as I became a teenager, but more like the “v” of a tree’s branches than a highway. She was the seed and roots that bound our family together with all the love in her boundless heart.





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salvadortheitalian said...
Feb. 9, 2009 at 6:12 am
=) great story.
 
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