Jesusa, my father's mother, passed at 4am. I knew her briefly when I was an infant. Evidently she would dress me up and walk me all over in my proper little pram, proudly showing her world her first grandchild.
Then my parents split for the first time. It's a long and messy story. Back and forth across the country; my brother being conceived and then born too early. Two very young and volatile individuals fighting over everything, especially 'the children'. So, I didn't know my father's side until I was 30. By that time, my grandmother wasn't able to remember me. Dementia met her first. Disconcerting, the aunts saying too loudly,"Ma! This is Roy's daughter! Nita!" and seeing the blankness where I'd occupied such a small space, so long ago.
I'm not going to the funeral. Lots of reasons. Together, the case is made for me to stay here with my family. One aunt doesn't speak to me because of everything that went down when Bear and I brought my sister out here. V was in danger of flunking out of school and I thought we could help. Give her stability. Unconditional support. A place to be herself. I have no regrets for trying; we're all better for it so I'll take the fallout and not be sorry for it at all. But I'm not looking forward to that drama.
I am fond of the family members I've gotten to know and I particularly adore 2 aunts and their husbands. Wonderful and warm people. Glad they're family. But I feel like an interloper. I abhor funerals and I've been to far too many just since the ringing of the new year.
I hope I can sufficiently support my little sister from here. She's going to fly out right after the funeral and I plan to spoil her and love her up. That kid has had some serious losses in her young life. I hope she understands I'm here for her every second and I eat my veggies and get checkups and fully plan to live for an unattractively long time ... for both my girls. All my girls.
I look at Rio, clopping through the kitchen this morning in her pajamas and plastic heels with marabou, smiling and just plain happy, as is her norm. When she's decked out in heels and painted toenails I see my mother's outrageous mother - Vivian. Vivian's entire shoe wardrobe consisted of gold, silver and red shoes. Most had jewels.
I see myself in her sense of timing and snarky edge.
Bear's scientific nature is hugely represented in my child who will peer at the wonders in a patch of grass for an hour straight, asking about every little element.
Most certainly my delicate and particular mother-in-law is represented in her broad and ready smile and her natural grace. There are moments when my child looks exactly as my mother did at her age - the turn of her nose and curve of her lip ...
I know Jesusa's blood runs in Rio's veins but, sadly, I can't recognize it.