Amuma is Basque for Grandmother. (pronounced a moo ma--short a sound both times) This was my mother's mother, and June 1st she died. We had gotten a call the day before to let us know that her kidneys were shutting down, and my mother called to let me know that she and my dad were going to drive to Eastern Oregon the next day. I really wanted to go, but my husband was supposed to go to North Carolina for a Knug Fu Testing. (He is a 6th degree black belt and was to sit on a testing board) My wonderful husband cancelled his trip, and told me to go to the funeral. So within an hour, I had called work let them know I would be gone, told my mom to pick me up on her way out of town, and had started to pack.
You see, my Amuma had a really rocky path of a life. In a time when mental frailty was just not spoken of, and handled even worse, my Amuma had to deal with everyday life with what would have been called "having had a break down" (my other Grandma Alice always used to say of the subject "What did we know? We knew nothing about mental illness, and we still know very little--Grandma Alice was very wise.)
Don't get me wrong, this did not define my mum (pronounced moom) She was in so many ways the most generous of women. She loved fiercely, but often did not show it as easily, mum's way was to make sure that you had peaches when they were in season, or some money to take to the store to buy candy. This, of course, was my perception as a child. When I was a young woman, Mum and I went to the movies together, and my perception changed. This is the story I told at her funeral.
After my Ichica (I-long sound cheecha) (grandfather) died my mum and I went to see the movie Ghost
and when the scene with Patrick Swazyee and Demi Moore came on with them working with the pottery wheel.. you know the one right? I was getting worried. I thought to myself. "Geesh, this is a little hot and heavy for my mum." and I looked over at her to see how she was taking the scene. She had tears running down her face. I was really worried, I said
"Mum, are you okay?" she answered me without taking her eyes from the screen.
"I had the world's best lover."
This was spoken so softly, with such passion. I was completely floored. My perception of humanity changed at that very moment. Grandparents had lovers. Mothers and Fathers had lovers. Not just the knowledge of this that our heads have.. that in our minds we know this must be so because we ourselves are here.. but the heart felt, soul touched surety. That before I felt the pull of passion, before I cried tears of joy from the beauty of my lover's embrace, my grandparents felt this same desire, the same pull toward each other. I have never looked at any one person in the same way. That moment with my Amuma changed my entire world view. Every one of us, Grandparents, Parents, everyone you meet has had hopes, dreams, aspirations, despairs, and lovers.
My Grandmother lived 23 years after the death of her lover.
I had said to one of my cousins the day before the funeral that I was feeling guilty that I wasn't more upset (of course I started crying then when I said that at the funeral) but what came to me the next morning, and what I said at the end was that I knew that at the minute of my mum's death, my mum and cheech shared a kiss that shook the universe. How could I be sad for that?
This isn't exactly how I said it of course.. I didn't write it down, and I was speaking to family, they all knew the love that my grandparents shared. At that country funeral, with their best wrangler jeans on, and their Stetsons covering their hearts, many of those still there witnessed that love from beginning to end. What did I know? I came in kind of late in the game after all. But on that very windy hill, with the sun just peeking through some fluffy white clouds in a little town called Jordan Valley, Oregon it seemed the right time to point it out again.
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