A Love of My Life: Fallita, My Maternal Grandmother
The grandmother is a beloved stock character in Czech literature. It’s no wonder, because with the exception of the unlucky, a grandmother is a fixture of Czech family life. Not only does a grandmother often live with the family, as my mother lives with us, but she is an active, loving, and sometimes infuriating part of the power dynamic.
At least for the parents.
For the grandchildren, she is mostly joy, forbidden candy, folded laundry – crisp and ironed, sugery compliments, and the occassional embarrassing episode. A grandmother might think nothing of asking her teenage granddaughter – loudly and in public – if she’s still feeling constipated, for instance.
I, myself, had a grandmother with whom I shared a clausterphobic, crazy-loving, frustrating and blessed relationship. Without her, I would not be even be a sliver of the woman I am today.
This is a woman who taught me how to stand up for myself, and gave me the courage and encouragement to start a business, write books, fall in love, and ultimately leave my family and home to live for years in a foreign country. Leaving her behind to miss me terribly, while I went off in search of adventure.
Yet she never said a word about her own heartache, cheering me on and listening to my stories with rapt attention.
As a mother, I now understand how difficult that is, and how much love it takes to help raise a headstrong and independent child who will one day bid you adieu.
My friend Catalina understands that, too.
I consider Cattalina a soul sister. She’s a writer, fellow immigrant, and true romantic. She’s an early Cold reader, and she and I have a sort of mutual fan club going on. When I reached out and asked for readers love stories, she jumped right in, head first. I love that about her.
And here is her story.
“I grew up in Mexico with a clear understanding of the irrelevance of chronological age. My grandmother who was born in 1898 was always active, always young. The bond that was so special and transcended generations is one that to this day holds an important place in my heart.
For one school year as a child I lived with her and my step-grandfather in Pineville, Louisiana. A year filled with armadillos, squirrels, Southern traditions and country girl adventures. An immense change from the Mexico City routine of my childhood. She was seventy and tried to teach me how to do a headstand! I never succeeded, but my grandmother’s headstands were flawless.
We never called her abuela or abuelita, she was to us all always Fallita. A nickname for her Christian name Flavia. She had some interesting tales of our ancestry which included her assurance that we had the blood of German pirates dating back to the 1600s. Although a few years ago Ancestry.com’s DNA test disputed that.
Her stories of the fun and frivolity of the 1920s piqued my curiosity and made my imagination dance as a teenager. The meals she cooked, she endeavored to whip up with the privilege of doing so only when she wanted, as she had a fabulous cook; Aurora.
Another of her gifts and hobbies was sewing. Only a machine stich could compete with her precise even-handed stitching.
And Fallita was as old-school tough as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey. I liked even her pointed remarks, touched with mean-spiritedness. When we love someone, after all, we need to love them wholly; flaws and gifts alike.
She lived to be 88 and to date over thirty years after her death, I miss her and feel her loving presence at times. Love after all, real love at any rate is everlasting.” -MCV Egan