I was reading a magazine the other night, and in it, there were letters to Santa that different authors had written, as if they were writing a letter for themselves at any given age (like 5, or 35, or 10, or 77). One of the letters in particular intrigued me, because the author pointed out to Santa that what she wanted wasn't really anything that could be put in a box, but if she gave him ideas, maybe he could come up with something that would fit the bill. I started thinking about what my letter to Santa would be, and after casting aside "mistletoe in my doorway" (Who doesn't enjoy a good smooch? Although, I think the UPS man mind find it offputting to be smooched by a lady in pink flannel panda pajamas, crazy hair, and questionable-hygiene-at-the-moment. My packages might never make it here again.) I came up with this:
I realize that you might not be able to do it, but I believe in Christmas magic and I have to ask...can I have one more day?
I would like one more day of sitting at her feet and feeling the mysterious whisper of silkyness as my 3 year old self stroked her stocking.
I would like one more day of following her around her garden, to hear the names of her plants, even though I know now that I did not inherit her green thumb. I ask for one more day to see her facial expressions as she listens to what I have to say, waiting until I am finished before correcting my Spanish.
I would like one more day to feel her hands gently get the tangles out of my hair before making my braids. I want one more day to giggle at a shared joke at my father's expense, one more day to play Loteria--to hear her say "El Catrin" as she held up the card for us to see the picture, one more time to sit on the bed and watch her get dolled up for her weekly Bingo excursion. To sit in the car, finding the capacity to keep my teenage mouth shut and listen to her and her friend Catalina replay the evening, as I drove them home, hearing who won the most money, local gossip, and the jangle of their bracelets against each other as they punctuated their stories with their hands. I want to hear her sigh, the one she made when I had the water temperature just right, as I angled the shower hose to hit her just so on her back. To hear her comment on how wonderfully healthy the children look. To see her face, patiently enjoying Audrey's attempts to comb her hair. To hear her "buenos noches, que Dios te bendiga" as we all took our leave at the end of our visit.
I want watch her make tortillas, measuring everything in the palm of her hand, rolling the dough into balls that magically stacked perfectly in her big silver bowl.
I know, Santa, this is not possible.
And that's okay.
I know I have her always.
In the gentleness of my hands as I work out the tangles in Audrey's hair, before I make her braids.
In finding the capacity to keep my Mom mouth shut, listening to the kids talk about their days as I drive them home, listening for them to punctuate their thoughts with drumming on their pant legs.
She'll be in my kitchen, every time I pull out my big silver bowl, rolling balls of cookie dough.
She'll be next to me, shaking her head every time another plant becomes one of my helpless victims. She will be with me, giving me the patience to wait until the kids are finished before correcting their Spanish.
I will still always hear "buenos noches, que Dios te bendiga" as I end a visit to my parents and head home.
Thanks, Santa, for listening. See what you can do.
It's not that I have regrets, that I feel that I didn't appreciate her enough. It's just that like a spoiled, petulant child, I am unhappy about losing one of my favorite things in the whole world.
Grudgingly, I accept the fact that 94 years is a long time to be on this earth and that she certainly earned the right to finally go. I am willing to part with her only because I have such wonderful, rich memories of our time together.
Buenos noches, Nana. Que Dios te bendiga para siempre.