My grandmother died on March second a day short of a month after my father’s death seven years ago. I remember the night well, my mother had gone to stay overnight and called my sister and me in the middle of it. My grandmother had died of a blood clot that went to her lungs after heart surgery. It was a surreal night and seeing her earlier that day it felt like she knew. She even confessed it to me.
Dolores Corzo was born on a farm in Cuban in 1918. They struggled with a large family and the running of a farm. There are stories of bulls charging through the house and boiling little more than weeds for dinner. The stories were always told with a fondness that comes when adversity is far enough away to be a badge of courage rather than a burden.
She wasn’t an easy woman but she was one with great passion for politics, poetry and baseball. She was a beautician who had to leave her beauty shop, home and most tragically lose her husband during the revolution to have to start all over again in Milwaukee Wisconsin with her four children. She did enough in her life not to have to be canonized after death but to be admired with all the difficulties of her nature and to be loved anyway. I often wonder if anyone really knew her as well as those who accepted her in those moments when she let her guard down. She was really handy with a needle too.
I wasn’t her favorite, may be her least in some ways, but at the end of her life she revealed certain things to me she didn’t to anyone else. And even after her life here. The night we came home defeated and thrashed by her loss I had a dream of her. She was radiant and smiling and held out her hand to give me something. It was dark and there was a flash of gold as she turned her hand to show me the gift . I had no idea what it meant but the dream left me with a feeling of peace and a happiness that she was safe and renewed. Also the knowledge she wanted me to have something of hers that was important to her.
I told my mother the dream and when my aunt and she were looking through my grandmother’s belongings she came upon something that fit the description. A sea bean. It had been a pendant for the brilliant if eccentric Leonor. Leonor conversed with the dead and even had them retrieve things dropped behind dressers. She was an educated woman at the turn of the last century in Cuba-quite a feat. She excelled in intellectual pursuits but still had time to commune with those unseen. My grandmother been given the bean because of the ‘L’ and her nickname being Lola. It was fitting she should have it.
It was strange that I should have it as I have no ‘L’ name and it was given to me in a moment between two worlds. Perhaps just the lapin was enough. The sea bean is one of my prized possessions. They were very popular as jewelry at the turn of the last century. They travel miles and get thrown on the waves and sometimes bitten by monkeys all to arrive on the shores to be rescued and made into something quite beautiful. They are considered lucky just for the fact that they survived being eaten by fish and storms and washed away to nothing by the salty waters and floated countless measures to where they rest. To me it is a magical sign and gift from the women in my family who are nearer than a breeze and are not seen but felt and live on each day with me. Now I’m struggling to survive the storms and riding the waves until I too will be made into something much more beautiful.