By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – I was just about to turn 14 years old when I moved to Puerta de Golpe. I saw her for the first time on a weekend. She would have been 30-something, an age when teenagers think a person is pretty much old; yet, despite that, I felt like I had found the most beautiful woman in the world.
A woman with such a beautiful, feminine face and a body that looked like it had been sculpted by God himself. Ever since then, from my early manhood, this glamourous and distant lady became a kind of platonic love that made my eyes and thoughts wander.
The only daughter of her parents, whom her parents kept on a short leash, she closed herself off to the world after her divorce and focused on raising her two children as if they were flowers in a greenhouse.
She is just over 60 now, and even though her beauty is retreating, it refuses to leave her body completely. She is a woman who has been dealt the cruelest blow Life can throw a mother: she lost her daughter, a doctor that had just graduated and loved her job, who woke up one day with a pain in her chest and then found out, hours later, that she had breast cancer.
Then, came the mastectomy, chemotherapy, treatments, but even so, she left this world the following year, leaving two young children behind.
For over seven years now, my neighbor has become the axis upon which four human lives spin: two elderly parents, in their 90s, and two children who are at the dawn of adolescence.
“Look after my children,” her daughter asked her before passing away.
She has to look after two homes and feed four mouths. Luckily, her son abroad and her widowed son-in-law help her out financially. But she can’t give herself the luxury of having her own life, much less get sick.
Sometimes, she entertains herself by talking to me, telling me her stories, her heartaches, and her few dreams. All while she is washing or cooking on her terrace.
I listen to her attentively because my gratitude to her is infinite. Ever since my mother passed away, she is the one who makes sure that I don’t miss out on the meagre products that come with the ration’s booklet, because sometimes I get caught up doing things at home, but just because they are meagre doesn’t mean they aren’t important in this country of shortages and hardship.
On December 3rd, I saw her elegantly dressed, she was with her 12-year-old granddaughter and was holding a bouquet of flowers. She told me that she was on her way to the cemetery to visit her daughter’s grave.
“Today is Doctors’ Day, and you know how much she loved her job,” she adds.
She’s so beautiful despite her old age, so loyal to her principles as a mother, daughter, and grandmother. My neighbor has no idea how much I admire her. She looks sadder today.
One thought on “My Neighbor”
Thank you for sharing this story about your neighbour, who lived a sad life giving to everyone, yet receiving very little in return. If only she knew of your secret longing for her when you were a young man! Reading this reminds me of reading a Shakesperian tragedy!
Comments are closed.