I chat with my mother, casually, about her childhood in El Barrio, in Tucson. We look at the picture of her, her siblings, and cousins, next to her Tata’s house on 5th Avenue, gathered for a brief moment in stillness before they all burst into movement and are off playing. She shares little, careless, details, to which neither of us give much thought: Richard, always dressed like a cowboy, my aunt’s penchant for standing up to their father, René’s constantly scraped knees. She talks of her school, and the house her father built, then she mentions my grandmother, and the dances she and my grandfather often attended.
Afterwards, I am left thinking of my grandmothers: Gama and Oma. Their form is long gone now. Yet, in some ways, they are more present to me now, than they could have been in life, because they lived half the country and (almost) a hemisphere away from me, respectively.
But today, I hold in my mind’s eye the elegant woman in a shimmering dress, her lightly veiled hat and long gloves — the Gama from the black and white photograph. I think of all the details of her life that are lost to me, things that may have mattered to her: what secret ingredient went into her Capirotada; why she was so captivated by all things Asian; how many nights she spent staring at the ceiling, wondering about her boys across the seas with the armed forces, or her daughter who was living so far away. What do I know of the secrets she shared with her closest friend, or what she really said to my grandfather’s ghost when he sat at the end of her bed at night? What of the dreams she never realized? And the ones that came true? I will never know. And some day, no one will know the things that mattered to her.
That awareness twists inside of me.
But a moment later, I am touched in my core by the presence of permanent flow, from one from to another, that I recognize as Eternity, Oneness. I am overcome with a quiet that stills the twisting anxiety within me and softens every edge.
I am aware, then, that, ultimately, none of it really matters.