Auda, mi abuella (my grandmother) is a Venezuelan woman who grew up in a world of poverty. Her home was a concrete shack in the busy city of Barquisimeto. Her face tells the story of a hard life and yet her smile, a softness that’s transcended it all.
I went to hug abuella as my Aunty asked her “Remember who this is madre?” trying to light a spark in my grandma’s now deteriorating memory. She has Alzheimer’s and diabetes, two conditions that don’t bode well together.
“Yessica” I whisper in her ear quietly hinting as she holds me with her little skinny arms.
She looked at me appreciatively holding my shoulders as she took a deep look in to my eyes. ‘Something familiar is there’ her eyes say.
“Yess-i-caaa” she said to me and smiled.
I hadn’t expected my travels to take me to Venezuela but given I have roots there and it is my mother’s old homeland, it was wonderful to reconnect and see my family.
My abuella’s condition was saddening and yet, there was a peace in her presence. She was living in the constant now. The past stories, the old stuff of my mother’s hard childhood and her addiction to buying shoes had dissolved. There was something quite beautiful in that.
I gave her some paints and a pad for her to paint with. She proceeded to simply paint hearts.
“What is the most important thing in the world abuella?” I asked my grandma wondering whether she had something profound to share with me, a message of sorts from the years she’d spent living what had not been a neasy life in such an unstable country.
“La salud” she replied.
I have enjoyed reading much on philosophy, psychology and the metaphoric stories of religious texts and Disney movies. I’ve found meaning in the lyrics to songs and deep truths inspired from meditations and asanas but my abuella told me something very true for us all.
Health is wealth.
The word wealth is rooted in the oldEnglish translation of the word ‘health’ and there’s a truism there if I ever I wanted one. The well-being of our minds, bodies and spirits is what makes life enjoyable for us, our friends, our family and our world.