March 15, 2006
Today was my grandmother's birthday. Her name was Olivia Aurora Perez. This is a picture of her at the age of 6 in her Sunday best on her father's ranch. She never liked the picture and it was 8 years before she would have another one made. This image originally included 4 of her 10 siblings. Each of the 4 kept their torn portions of the picture until their deaths. Her curse was watching 9 of the 10 die before her. Often she would dream the deaths a few days before they would happen and wake up with eyes full of tears clutching her well worn rosary. She would whisper her own death was near each time she said goodbye to me. As a child I would cry, but after 25 years I stopped believing her and then of course it happened.
My grandmother spent a good portion of her life in the kitchen a fact of which she was most proud. When I dream of food I am always sitting at that small table prodding her (between bites) for another story of her father the bandit/revolutionary or laughing at one of her sharp observations. One of her brothers would say his 25 years of marriage had gone by "in ten minutes." "Ten minutes under cold water," she would whisper. She only finished the 6th grade but would always joke that she was more educated than my grandfather who only made it through the 4th. Her penmenship maintained the studied care of a child and sometimes she would use a ruler to keep her lines straight.
I was her favorite. She made no effort to hide this from my cousins or my brothers. I could do no wrong by her even though I managed to flood her house, crash my grandfather's car (at age 4), and nearly blow up a neighbor's workshop with homemade fireworks.
I look at her eyebrows and nose every day in the mirror. She smelled of rosewater and flour and she had the softest hands. I miss her.