As I read this letter in tears, all my problems shrunk to the size of a pea. I felt ashamed for troubles I believed I had. This letter opened my eyes to the fact that my life has been easy, filled with obstacles that were nothing compared to the ones my grandmother faced.
Every year I read a book entitled “Man’s search for meaning.” by Viktor Frankl, a memoir and reflexion on survival in a Nazi concentration camp. How a man can survive under the most dire circumstances if he sets his mind to it.
Now, after reading this letter, I will skip my yearly reading. My search for meaning is still on, but my grandmother’s story, however extremely summarized, gives me the strength to keep seeking and hoping to find my meaning through her exemplary life and love.
The letter: Report on your abuelita and my mother.
Your abuelita had a fine and happy 96 birthday: she had phone calls from you and other people, she had many presents and visits which cheered her up a lot. Lauritis was, of course, the first. She had her roscón and birthday cake.
Her foot is healing, but slowly because the blood flow is not what it used to be. R. cleans and dresses it daily because the Social Security people no longer come home for that.
Mentally she is the same and is up to date on current affairs and knows perfectly who’s who. She does worry over the two of you and even over Chloe and Alexia and their future.
I am very lucky to have a mother like her who was even willing to see me go to the States for a long time. I think that you were lucky to have her too, who has loved you a lot and has always tried to help you, in the past. Yet she is very cheerful and in good spirits at age 96 and is very aware that she is coming to the end of her life, but is not morose and smiles and jokes a lot. She has gone through very trying times in her childhood and teens. Remember that she lost her father when she was 14 and her mother when she was 19, at a time when the world was going through a terrible depression. The war and postwar was no joke: she had a child to support and a husband in a concentration camp. After the war and up to almost the sixties she had to make ends meet with almost nothing. She even had to be a charwoman for Concha Leonardo to get food for the three of us. And the rest you know. She lost her husband -whom she loved- to another woman. Her son dropped in with two motherless kids, out of the blue (he had not planned it that way)… but she accepted all cheerfully.
Why am I telling you all this? For you to bear in mind that everybody has had it tough and that in spite of all, there she is, 96, and in good spirits. I would even say happy. A bit hard of hearing, but still with most of her teeth, eating turrón de Alicante.
End of report.