I recently came back from Honduras. I went home to celebrate my grandmother’s 92nd birthday. Only a handful of family members knew I was going, and it had been four years since my last visit. When I walked into my grandmother’s living room, she looked up at me almost in disbelief. She shouted “Bandida!” (The literal translation is “bandit,” but basically, what she meant is that I’m crazy and sneaky.)
Unfortunately, the 92nd birthday party extravaganza didn’t quite play out as we had planned. The next day, my grandmother was hospitalized, and it would stay that way for the next four days. You know how they say, “Every second counts?” Well, had it not been for my mom’s swiftness in noticing something was wrong with my grandmother, we would’ve been attending her funeral instead. She’s fine now! Much better, but we almost lost her.
My grandmother, María Victoria, is the matriarch of our family. She is the trunk of a family tree that consists of 9 children, 24 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. Despite her age, her mental clarity is astonishing. She will tell you stories from 70+ years ago with incredibly vivid detail. While she was in the hospital, I had lots of conversations with her. I asked her why she chose do make some of the decisions in life she made. During many instances, it had nothing to do with what was best for her, rather what was best for my aunts and uncles.
It reminded me a lot of my mom. I constantly remind her she has to take care of herself. Yesterday alone she told me:
“Yo se mija. Yo ya no soy la misma y tengo que pensar mas en ustedes.”
(My daughter, I know. I’m not the same anymore, and I need to think more about you two.)
This response blew me away. Never has my mom ever not thought of us. Honestly, she’s thought of us too much and not enough about herself. But, she says the last thing she wants to do is cause us any pain. Meanwhile, the last thing I want is for her to ever be in pain.
After she said this, it made me think of the parallels that exist between her and my grandmother. Both matriarchs. Both made many decisions based on what was best for their children. Both tried to do the best job they could’ve done within the circumstances life dealt them.
My grandmother, a woman who doesn’t know how to read or write, raised a woman like my mother. A woman who was brave enough to leave home, who took on a new country and raised her children with the best education money and hard work can buy. Neither ever sits there and brags about their accomplishments. They simply say they did what they were supposed to do.
As I’ve told you before, my mother compares my brother and I to her lungs. Part of me thinks that’s what helped my grandmother pull through – seeing how everyone rallied around her. How we all reminded her she still has fight in her, and we all still want her around. We gave her the boost of oxygen she needed.
It’s been a scary 10 months between my mom’s diagnosis, and now my grandmother. That’s why this year Mother’s Day is extra special. This is why I’m more grateful than ever to have both my mom, and my grandmother, on Earth with me. It could’ve been a terribly horrifying outcome on both ends. Instead, I learned more about the wonderful trail of matriarchs I form a part of, which I couldn’t be more humbled and grateful for.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Victoria Moll-Ramirez is a broadcast journalist based in New York City. She is originally from Miami, FL and had the great fortune of being raised by the sassiest, spunkiest, wisest, most hysterical Honduran woman in the world. Victoria’s mother, Bélgica, is 60-years-old, resides in Little Havana (Miami) and enjoys a good margarita accompanied by a heartrending ranchera. Victoria blogs about her mom’s funny and wise sayings on, “In My Mother’s Words.”