Ode to a fine old broad

I went to Brazil last week to see my Grandmother. I usually go in February for her birthday, but I didn’t go this year cause I had just spent two months in Houston at my Mom’s and since she is slowly starting to decline I decided to take a last-minute trip to see her. Don’t get me wrong, she’s perfectly healthy, her body is just, well, old. And she’s starting to look like she may be getting done with the whole living thing… she’s started retreating into herself, not talking much, it’s like she’s in her own little world, which is fine, at her age she’s allowed to do whatever the hell she wants. And since the stars aligned just so, and I could leave the kids for a few days I decided to go see her, just in case. In case of what, I sometimes wonder, since I’m pretty sure she’s going to bury us all.

My Grandma turned 102 years old this year. 102. It constantly boggles my mind that she could possibly be that old. She was born in 1910. There were no cars back then, her preferred mode of locomotion was a horse. Seriously, a horse. There were no telephones (they existed, like cars, but nobody had them), no TVs, no computers, no wi-fi, no iPhones, no color photographs, no cameras for personal use, there were no washers, nor dryers, nor, well, electricity in the house where she was born, in fact. Because she was born at home, of course. She had something like fifteen siblings, but only eight made it to adulthood. She had four daughters from three separate husbands, only one of which died. This means she got divorced twice. Two divorces seem commonplace nowadays, but she was born at a time when women couldn’t even vote. She had my Mom when she was 43, which means she was practically decrepit for her time, and yet my granddad was ten years younger than her, At some point, for reasons beyond my understanding, she kicked him out of the house. She always worked for a living, she raised four daughters and buried three, she learned to drive, she used to smoke (and roll her own cigarettes, of course) and she quit, before the surgeon general realized that smoking was possibly not great for our health.

She never said a word when my Mother went to live in sin with a man almost thirty years her senior and proceeded to have two kids with him. In the thirty-six years that I have known her I have never, not once, seen her without dyed hair and painted nails.

with my Mom, her youngest daughter

With me, last week in Sao Paulo

She was a hard ass, she was not a coddling grandmother, I couldn’t step out of line cause she was always there, ready to tattle. I resented the crap out of her as a teenager and yet the day I turned eighteen she changed completely. My life was then my own and she never, ever commented on any of my decisions. The day I got married, she gave me all her jewelry and her blessing and then visibly relaxed.

She told me the most wondrous, amazing stories when I was a kid, I wish I had written them down, and she always sang me to sleep.

And now? Now she is doggedly hanging on to life with tooth and claw. She had a hard life, but she loved it, she still loves it, and I believe, she will love it till the end.

Dancing on her birthday with one of her physiotherapists, whom she probably would have married had he been available…

Linking up today with Shell for Pour your heart out.

17 thoughts on “Ode to a fine old broad

  1. This is absolutely amazing. What a life and what a woman. I have a friend here, from Brazil and her grandpa just turned 101. He shares his time between here (Florida) and Brazil. But my friend told me recently they’ll be going back to Brazil soon and he’ll likely stay there with one of his daughters.

  2. She sounds like a firecrackers! what a life she has lived 🙂 I would have married that physical therapist too –as long as my husband doesn’t mind. So glad you were able to spend some time with her.

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