Café con leche & pan dulce
"I live with grandma now; actually she lives with my parents and I am staying with them as well. She is sick; elderly dementia, all kinds of smaller illnesses and she is usually in a bad mood (she hates the pills, she hates her nurses, she hates her dead father, she hates not being at her old house and she hates pretty much all things life gives her, except for candy, candy is always good).
It is really hard to live with her. She wakes about four or five times at night (every time screaming for her mother, because she usually believes she is still a girl), in the morning she is typically in a foul mood, treating her nurse badly because she considers her to be useless (in her mind, grandma thinks she needs no help). By five or six o’clock she is tired (because she gets so little sleep at night), she is in a horrible state, paranoia and hate settle in and her afternoon nurse has to constantly call for help from my mother because grandma’s mind elaborates awful and scary stories (“The Nurse Killed my Husband” was the last one). In general she gets on everyone’s nerves by saying snippy and hateful comments.
Even so, the whole house has learned to deal with grandma’s temper. It is a slow process, but incredible one gets used to her. You treat her kindly and try to ignore some of her remarks, or you take your chances and try dialogue with her. I almost never take those chances, I rather stay out of her radar and carry on with my own tasks (I never had a big relationship with her, and well, sometimes I have no idea how to make simple conversation).
And so, I go about my day having little contact with her; I had not noticed, until some days ago, that I even avoid looking directly at her. I was sitting across from her, thinking about random non-important events and suddenly I looked up. There she was: Grandma. She was beautiful. She had hints of my mother, specks of me; the aged face of the woman that used to serve me café con leche and pan dulce. Her eyes were gleaming with a softness that I had never seen before on her, her white hair carefully brushed into a girly do, her face in a calm expression (nothing like the woman I am used to seeing).
I wished I had had the guts and talent to take her picture at that instant, but I didn’t have them. I was scared that any doing on my part would break that perfect and rare moment. And so, I just stayed there, looking at her, marveled with the compelling image: The tranquil façade of a mind in conflict.
Days later I came upon a picture taken by Lee Jeffries. and I almost broke down. I had convinced myself that the image of Grandma had been a mirage, nothing that could have been captured by a camera; my soul asking me to be a little more human, nothing else. But no, it was there, it was real, and as if Lee had been in my place"