Tonight, I received a phone call. It was one of those awkward phone calls that you know in your heart will someday come but you hope that it won’t. It actually came twice. The first time it came, I let it go straight to voice mail.The person calling? My aunt, well one of my aunts. Without telling you my entire life story, because seriously it’s about a book worth full of drama, I’ve spoken to this woman twice in the past 30 years and I have not seen her once since I was 7.
I knew that she had flown to Mexico and brought my ailing, albeit estranged, Grandmother “Abuela” back to the states with her. I know this sounds terribly cold and removed to a person from the outside but let’s just say adults made choices and we were children. She removed herself from my father’s childrens lives.I have seen her once since I was 12..that was wen she showed up like a ghost, unannounced at my baby shower when I was pregnant with my first.Saying that we are not close is an understatement. We are blood. That is where the bond ends.
My Grandmother wasn’t at my graduation. She never called. She never wrote to explain her absence. She made no apologies. Apologies are not her style. She is a very stoic, closed off person…or she was when I knew her. She never attended my wedding. There was no congratulations extended when my children were born.The fact that she was at my baby shower was a complete fluke. She was in the country, my aunt was coming and she brought my Grandmother along with her as a hostage. There was no gift.There was no matronly advice from my abuela who had birthed 9 children of her own. Just awkward silence and a very strange out of place grin.
There has always been a tension between my Grandmother and anyone who dared to challenge her way.By challenging, I mean not relinquishing all rhyme and reason to cater to her every whim and want.
Tonight, the call was to tell me that this woman who I hardly know; who birthed my father and hardly knew me..barely wanted to know me, unless it was for a purpose beneficial to her; the woman who is responsible for the existence of my father in the world, the woman who should mean everything to me but means less than most of my casual acquaintances,is in the hospital and most likely dying of cancer.
My heart broke but not for the reason that you might imagine. My father is in Mexico, he was there with her before she got sick and had her surgery a couple months ago. He was finally re-establishing a mother -son relationship with his mother. The woman I have become accustomed to him referring to as that woman or my mother, in the past couple months he has started to refer to her as my Mama. The difference is subtle but the implication is great.
They have been estranged for almost 25 years.As a mother, I know this must have weighed heavily on her heart over the years and I’ve seen first hand how difficult it has been on my father to not have his mother in his life. I can’t imagine there being anything that my child could ever say or do that would make me stay away for so many years. But then again, she left.
Here I sit tonight with the weight of my father’s world resting squarely on my shoulders. You see I have been presented with the task of locating my father in Mexico, and giving him the news of her illness and probable impending death. I am sad that she is hospitalized and in pain. I would feel this way for any human being but mostly I am sad for my father who after just getting his Mama back in his life, may be losing her..forever. This is the call that I NEVER wanted to make. I never wanted to be the one to break my father’s heart and give him the news that he may be again losing his Mama.