December always gets me thinking about this lovely lady to the left. She's my grandmother and this was taken in 1938. Her name was Anadelia and her birthday is coming up on the 11th. She died in '03 and I still miss her terribly. Over the years she told me lots of stories about growing up in Puerto Rico but the saddest was hearing about her being orphaned at a very young age and moving from house to house as different people took care of her - some family, some not. As you can imagine family became very important to her.
During my teen years we lived far apart - me on the east coast, Grandma on the west coast. When I was pregnant with my firstborn - the one lost to adoption, she knew nothing about it. At the time, us "unwed mothers" were instructed to keep this secret. It's easier to keep a secret when you're 3000 miles from someone but I was very close to her so it was hard to keep something like this from her. Years later, after I had gotten married, she moved east to be near us. One day I was hanging out with her in the kitchen and she asked if I was going to have any more children. At this point I had my son and youngest daughter. I told her no, we're not having any more. She then told me about her dream. She said.... "I just don't understand it. Years ago I had a dream that you had 3 children, 2 girls and a boy. The boy has dark hair, one of the girls has dark hair and the other girl has lighter hair - it has some red in it". Now normally that would be when I'd get chills and think holy shit - how did she know, but this was Grandma - she just knew things. It was time to fess up and tell her the story. I knew that was the moment; it was time to tell her about my oldest daughter (whose father is a redhead btw).
As you can imagine, many tears were shed. It was hard to tell her but once it was done the relief was immense. She told me that if she had known, she would have flown me to CA and helped me raise her. That was one of those "what if" moments but I can't dwell on that - it hurts too much. For years after that day we'd talk about finding my daughter. She'd tell me that all she wanted before she died was to meet my baby. Well, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. I found Liz, we reunited and just a few weeks before Grandma was gone, Liz was able to fly down and meet her Great Grandmother. I'll never forget the look on Grandma's face as she walked into the room. Liz stood at the edge of the bed in the nursing home, held Grandma's hand and I saw the family together at last. I knew this meant the world to my grandmother and it was amazing for me to see them together.
What I know now is I want to be the grandmother that my grandmother was to me. She understood family connections. She loved fiercely, she didn't care what the neighbors thought about anything, she protected her own, she was always there with a hug and a smile and a plate of food.
I have four grandchildren now and I can only hope that I can live up to her example.