Today it is her birthday, the auntie we called "tchitchia" and who was truly a second mother to me. My good nephew brought her flowers and just sent this picture.
It takes one by surprise, to see a photo almost instantly of someone we love so profoundly. The eyes tear up as the heart becomes so small and sorrowful, drowning in saudades....
I have endless memories of the times we both spent together. As the seventh child in a family of ten children, my childhood years found my aunt living across the street and coming over often to give Mom a hand with just about everything: I remember her bathing young ones, cooking, cleaning, helping with homework in many levels, teaching lessons and the best of all... telling stories! She would tell us stories of books or films she had enjoyed, and her story-telling skills were so enthralling! In the summer months, in Grandmother's mountain property, the chapters would end in a cliffhanger every night and we literary couldn't wait to sit in the varanda envidraçada (enclosed veranda) after dinner for her story-telling each evening!
So my young life was lived so much alongside my dearest auntie... I remember watching her, fascinated by her dexterity, as she would paint porcelain and set up her Nativity set that has been our own here at home for many years... (...and yet never, not even close, beautifully set up as she had it....) I remember her frosting the cakes when Mother threw fancier parties with her own recipe for chocolate frosting.... her spatula would glide on the cake as she immersed it in cold water every other time, smoothing it perfectly I remember her helping me memorize poetry for school for hours on end! I have kids who can memorize poems and facts almost instantly, but that all comes from Husband. I was never good at it and I so appreciated her help! One Mother's Day I was selected to write and give the speech at school and again there she was by my side helping me write it.
But I had her for more time than the simple time she came to spend at our home helping out. I had a special affinity to her and absolutely loved her company. I had her so very much in my heart in a special way! I remember waiting in the front steps for her arrival after mass each Sunday--that's how much I enjoyed her company. I knew then that we had a spiritual and personality bond of sorts. We were similar in many ways! I saw Mother and she as Mary and Laura Ingalls, and the same with my sister Margo and I--the older ones of the pairs were pretty and proper... while we both, the younger ones, were the creative parts of the pairs. I showered her with questions, and loved to listen to her speak about just about anything. Most especially the faith. She told me so much about her pilgrimage to Europe when grandmother took her to Lourdes to bathe in the miraculous water--and her version coming from within, and I've always loved hearing it. We leafed through art books and saints books together, and she taught me so so very much about the life of faith and virtue!
I thank God for her presence in my life, for being a wonderful second mother to me, and I pray for her today. May God give her peace and comfort in her golden years.