As a kid, I was very close to my dad’s parents. I stayed with them a lot while my parents took classes at night to get their degrees. I was there every weekend for Saturday “taco nights”. I was there practically all summer while my mom taught summer school. I loved being there because well, I was spoiled rotten. I am 1 of 7 grand-kids. My dad’s brother had the first born and I came second. All 3 of my dad’s brothers have two kids and my dad was the only one who ended up with 1 (Moi). Now that we are all grown up and both my grandparents have passed, its easily said amongst the family that I was “the favorite”. It’s true. I was. I was the only one that got a nick name. See that title up there? Doesn’t that prove it? I’m not going to lie, I was a spoiled brat growing up but I was totally cute so it makes it ok. Either way, loosing those two people there nearly killed me too. My grandpa passed when I was 9 and my grandma when I was 21. I don’t remember a lot about my grandpa but he visits once in awhile so I know he is ok and he knows that I am doing just fine too.
This weekend, while my mom’s sister was visiting from Alabama, we got to talking about our trip to Washington, where I met my Aunt Louise for the first time. It was the first time that my dad met his older sister. I wrote about the events leading up to this, but I never wrote about the trip. At the time, I was too emotional. Over a year later, I still get a lump in my throat when I think about that trip.
My Aunt L was literally cut from the mold of a mother she never knew. She is the spitting image of my grandmother. When she talks, she moves her hands in the way grandma did. When she speaks, she sounds just like her. She decorates her home the way my grandma did. They have the same laugh. When we were getting ready to take some group pictures, she got some lipstick out of her purse. I happened to be standing there talking to her when she did this. Her lipstick was the same exact shade of coral pink that my grandma used to wear. She even puckered her lips after she put it on. Before we came back to California, Aunt L pulled me to the side and handed me a ring. It has a large turquoise stone on it. She told me that it was one of her favorite pieces of jewelry and that she wanted me to have it so that I would not forget her. My grandma LOVED turquoise jewelry and when she passed, it got boxed up and I haven’t seen it since. She would have had no idea of that. She would have had no idea of any of the things that made her so much like my grandma, the mother she never knew. There were so many things like this over the course of 3 days. One example is when looking through old albums, there was a picture of Aunt L looking over her shoulder, with her back to the camera. We have the same exact picture of my grandma doing the same exact pose. They look like sisters. Another example: the day my Aunt L was adopted by the family that raised her was EXACTLY one day before my dad was born. All these coincidents still give me goosebumps.
When we were talking about all of this with my mom’s mom and sister (I’m not using grandma and aunt in the hopes that I don’t confuse anyone, even myself) they realized something themselves. Growing up, my dad’s mom and mom’s mom shared a property. Dad’s mom had the house in the back, and mom’s mom the house in the front. I had it great, I could see both grandma’s in one day. But someone didn’t like to share. My mom’s mom mentioned that whenever my grandma would go to the store or step out while she was watching me, my mom’s mom would offer to watch me. My grandma always refused. They both agreed that my grandma was VERY possessive of me. This can only be explained that maybe, just maybe, that was her way of coping with her choices to give up her daughter. That might be why I was so favored. That might be why out of 7 kids, I was the only always sent to “you go ask grandma, she’ll always give you what you want.” It makes perfect sense. And I dont think it means she loved me less. To me, it means she loved me more. I was her “do-over”, her chance to prove to herself that she could have raised her daughter. And you know what? She would have been a great mom to my Aunt L. Because she was a wonderful grandma to me.
Me and Aunt Louise 2006. Please excuse my greasy face and unflattering shirt.
Previous picture was taken around 1989? I was making my first communion.