My Grandmother and Me

Rosa Martinez

Photo by Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 15 — My grandmother would have officially turned 87 today, but it’s been two years now that she hasn’t been among us.

Rose, as everyone used to call her, was a tender woman of perennial joy, to such a point that not even the rough times of the 1990s Special Period crisis and its excessive shortages were able to steal her smile.

Proud of her long white hair, even as an older woman she didn’t let anyone cut it, because for her a short-haired woman was like a house without a garden.

Her way of dressing was always bold, that’s why her well-shaped body stood out in the nicely fitted pants that she always wore.

Her last birthday was, like all of them, a family affair.

Since she had eight children, seventeen grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and other relatives, we had to buy an enormous cake for everyone.  Likewise, my mom and I prepared pineapple juice, her favorite drink, since she didn’t like alcohol.

I remember that she was even prettier than usual on that day.  She wore some shoes with medium heels and, to my pride, the blue dress I had given her; she selected it out of all the pretty gifts she had received.

For several hours she made us laugh with her stories and anecdotes of when she lived in Caujeri Valley, way out in the municipality of San Antonio del Sur, on the southern coast of this eastern province of Guantanamo.  She talked about when she was our grandfather’s girlfriend and how they escaped from the house, in addition to other stories that she repeated but which never ceased to please us – plus they always surprised us with some new detail.

She was the heart of our family.  When she died suddenly, on September 15, we believed that everything would end for us.  We thought that in her casket was not only leaving her perfect body, her beautiful face and her tender smile, but that our happiness, the family’s unity and the love of all the siblings, cousins and nephews would also leave.

But none of that happened.  Fortunately we continue to remain united.  Today we remember her with nostalgia, but not with sadness, because she wouldn’t have wanted a sad memory on a day like today.