“Why have so much stuff? People have so much stuff. In the end, you can only fit so much in between 4 pieces of wood!” – Bica, my grandmother (Feb. 1927 – August 2012).
To so many people she was a puzzle. She was a constant controversy and a constant topic of debate. “She talked too much. She hated too much. She was too blunt. She was too feisty” – they said. To me, she was my grandma.
I saw everything and none of these things in her. She was my dad’s mother, she gave me my only aunt, and she taught me to always clean my face when I am eating and to always keep my elbows off the table. More than anything, she taught me that size doesn’t matter and to have a backbone!
She was a power house of a woman, less than 5 ft tall, always moving, always doing something, always talking. She grew up in the deep, deeper than deep mires of poverty: in a country house at the end of a dirt road. The house had one room. She had 10+ siblings. She left the country and moved to the city when she was very young. She went to school and she became a nurse. She married a construction engineer and had two kids. And she never looked back to her poor beginnings.
September 2001 - with my sister and bica back home
She was the toughest human I know. She was made of the stuff steel and diamonds are made of. She was unmovable. Un-crack-able.
My bica died today, and I feel like with this one branch in our family tree falling, our family is smaller, and sadder. She is my last grandparent to lose, and the one who lived the longest. I am amongst those very lucky people who not only met all her grandparents, but grew up with them, and was molded by them. I am grateful for every day I had with them, every lesson they taught me and every breath they took with me in the same room.
Today is a sad, sad day. My sister and I lost a whole generation. We can’t call them on their birthdays anymore, and our Christmas lists are yet shorter. More than anything, this made me ponder upon what is really important. And bica was right: “stuff” and things are not important. She only takes her small body and the clothes on her back today, with her. And she leaves behind a whole legacy of 85 stubborn years of living. I am not going to remember her “things”. Only her drive, her laugh, her bite and sarcasm, her lessons.
Good bye, bica. You leave a huge empty spot in our lives, but not in my heart. Although you’ll always be part of me, I miss you more than words can say, and I hope and pray that you are finally at peace.
Me and all my grandparents: from left, bubu (mom's father), bica, maia (mom's mother) and bicu (dad's father). No idea how old I was here, but I was an only child at the time, thus the excessive attention I am receiving.