ANCESTOR OF THE WEEK
Today is my 40th birthday and I don't feel older than 18. Age is just a number and it shouldn't identify you as a person. This beautiful woman above is my paternal grandmother, Rosa Varrera. She was born in Manhattan on 2 JAN 1917. She was the third child of my great-grandparents and the first daughter.
I had a closer relationship with my mother's family and saw my maternal grandparents almost every day, but I would only see my paternal grandparents once in a while. I used to get so excited when they would come over. My grandfather had a slight Italian accent and my grandmother would spend time in my bedroom telling me how much she liked it and how she would have loved to have had a bedroom like that when she was a little girl. She always made me feel special. Grandma never acted her age. She always enjoyed life and tried new things. I admired her for that. She had an amazing sixth sense and would be able to predict things that would eventually happen. She also found money EVERYWHERE she went. She used to say that she could "smell" money and would be introduced to a stray wallet under a tree, or a trail of quarters--a talent that I wish I had inherited.
For a while, my paternal grandparents lived in Florida, but they moved back to Staten Island when I was about ten or eleven. In 1987, my grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was a heavy smoker, rarely seen without a cigarette between her fingers. She enjoyed it and didn't intend on giving it up. She and my grandfather moved into the basement apartment at my aunt's house. Luckily, this was located up the street from my house, so I was able to visit her quite often during the last year of her life. I would walk up the street and visit with her. She would call me her "Lucky Charm" because she said that when I came to see her, she would always feel better. The chemotherapy was putting her body through hell; she lost a significant amount of weight and lost her hair. I'm sure she didn't fully divulge her aches and pains to me, and as a child, I really didn't understand the extent of her condition.
A couple of weeks before she died, I was visiting her and she started introducing me to the flowers on her bedsheets. Then, she pointed to a picture of her mother on the dresser and said, "Mom keeps asking me if I'm ready." These instances frightened and confused me. I loved her so much and I sensed she was slipping away, but I never dealt with death before and the thought of her dying terrified me.
On the morning of Wednesday 25 MAY 1988, the phone rang as my mother was brushing my hair before school. My uncle was on the other end telling my mother that Grandma had passed away. I remember it like it was yesterday--rainy day that wouldn't let up. I didn't go to school that day and cried for about a week straight. She was my first grandparent to pass away. I was so affected by this that not only did I chose her name as my Confirmation name later that October, but fifteen years later, I was married on the anniversary of her passing.
I haven't seen my Grandmother in twenty-eight years. Her passing caused a domino effect and I feel that I had to deal with death more than any young person should. My paternal grandfather died only five years after her in 1993, my maternal grandfather died in 1998, my maternal grandmother died in 2001, and my father died in 2005. One after the other; the people I loved most in the world.
So, as I mentioned previously, today is my 40th birthday--I never smoked a day in my life. Time is but an instant and, before you know it, you are planning for your retirement. I wish my grandparents were still here to see some of the discoveries I have made, but I feel that, in some way, they are helping me from beyond and are providing me with celestial interventions to assist me in my sleuthing. I hope I'm making them proud, because I was proud to know them.
I dedicate this post to "Grandma Rose".
Thanks for reading!