I found out this morning that my maternal grandmother, PK's great-grandmother died of heart failure. I won't lie to you. I'm a wreck. I loved her dearly. What makes it worse is that because she lived in Brazil, she never got to meet PK. We were supposed to go there in March of 2009, but I guess now it's a moot point. Brazil will never be the same.
My grandmother and I had a special bond ever since I was little. My mom is an only child and my sister and I were her only grandchildren. To her, we were the world. I guess it tore her to pieces when we moved away from Brazil more than 20 years ago. In spite of the distance, we always stayed in touch. She always sent cards for everything. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Easter, Christmas. You name it, she had a card for it. I will miss those cards so dearly.
My family left Brazil when I was 8. When my sister and I were little, we used to go to her house every weekend to spend Friday and Saturday night. I loved it. She always showered us with love and with gifts. The gifts were a bonus. The love is what really mattered. I guess all of those weekends at her place is why we were so close. My paternal grandmother is still alive, but I've got a ton of cousins on my dad's side of the family and so my sister and I never had that special bond with her.
Even though we lived far from each other, we tried to visit each other. She came to visit us when we lived in Portugal, Ottawa, and Toronto. She came for my university convocation, which made a special day even more special. We visited her in Brazil as well. I brought the hubby to the last two visits to Brazil.
My grandmother never made it to my wedding, and she never made it to my sister's wedding either. At least she got to meet our respective husbands. I just wish that she could've held on a bit longer so she could meet PK. I'll be honest with you though. I was having second thoughts about going to Brazil with PK in 2009. The trip is long and annoying - there's no direct flight, and the time spent waiting at the connecting airport is excruciatingly long. The hotel we normally stay at is cramped for two people, let alone 2 adults plus a baby. We could've stayed at my grandmother's, but although her apartment was nice, the area was a bit creepy. Most neighborhoods in Rio not near the beach are kind of creepy in my opinion. Besides, PK needed a bunch of shots, a Brazilian passport, and a Canadian passport. All that is obtainable, of course. It just takes time. In hindsight, if she were alive at the time, I should've made an effort to go.
When PK was born, she sent me a great big care package. It was delivered to my parents' place since I knew that my mom would at least be home to receive the package. It arrived the day we were up at my in-laws, who live pretty close to my parents. I never swung by my parents' place to pick up the package and instead waited until we were there for lunch the following weekend. My grandmother was crushed that I didn't want to pick up the package right away. I now know why. The package was filled with clothes for PK, all chosen so carefully and with so much love. Although I thanked her for it, I never told her just how much I appreciated the gesture. I wish she knew that it meant the world to me.
I last spoke to my grandmother yesterday, and she was incredibly frazzled because she was trying to get a hold of my mom and wasn't able to. She said that she wasn't feeling well. I tried to calm her down because I knew she had a heart problem. I talked to her for a bit and made a mental note to call her later when she was feeling calmer. I never called back. I forgot. I feel horrible. I wish that our last conversation hadn't been with her in such a frazzled state. I wish that she was happy when she got off the phone with me. I wish that I could've seen her one more time before she died. But I guess those things won't happen anymore. I'm at least grateful that I was able to speak to her one last time. I wish I had told her that I loved her. I hope she knew that. I really do.
Now, as I sit here and take everything in, I'm really reminded of the importance of family. I think of my relationship with my mom. We haven't seen eye-to-eye for the past 10 years or so. There's been some friction between us since PK's birth because I wanted to do things my way with PK and didn't want her to interfere with PK's upbringing. I now realize how much I hurt her feelings by doing that. The more she nagged me about PK, the more I pulled away. It wasn't fair to her. She just wanted to love PK the way that my grandmother loved me.
When I found out about my grandmother, I texted the hubby since he was on the subway on his way downtown. He called me as soon as he got my message. As I sobbed on the phone, I told him to make sure that he gives proper attention to his own grandmother. She's 93. She's still alive. She lives in the same city. When everything else falls apart in the world, family is everything. Never take family for granted.
Being from Brazil, my family is catholic. My grandmother's greatest wish for PK was to have her baptized. I've been an atheist since I was 14 and the hubby is a non-denominational christian. I've never had any plans to have PK baptized, and the hubby expressed no interest in it on his end of things either. Now, with my grandmother gone, I am reconsidering it. I want to honor my grandmother in some way. It doesn't have to be a catholic baptism. I'm pretty sure that protestant christians have baptisms too (pardon my ignorance), so that could hopefully be a middle ground. I hope that the hubby understands.
I took my grandmother for granted at times, and I wish that I hadn't. I'm at least comforted by the fact that I was able to talk to her one last time, even if it was under slightly stressful circumstances for her.
Eu te adoro, Vovó Vera. Você sempre foi boa para mim. Você sempre foi ótima avó e sempre foi muito querida. Beijos saudosos e carinhoso para sempre. May you rest in peace.
Most recent article for Washington Post
4 days ago