Lemon Water

Weighed Down By Memories

I was writing an English commentary over a poem, when the introduction ran away from me. But it said somethings I’ve been needing to say. Because the poem woke something up from me, due to the symbolism it has. The Weight of Sweetness, means that the sweet memories in life will weigh us when the loved people that gave us this sweetness pass on, will weigh us down.

I lost my grandmother and my great-uncle within a week of each other, about a year ago. Both where people that did not impact me incredibly in my life, but were mere passing mentions in my life, since I only saw my grandma Bertha when we went to visit my family in Bolivia, and my great-uncle Fernando in the short year in which I lived in London. But somehow their deaths hurt me, and the memories still haunt me to my day, because I never realized how important they were.

I remember mostly talking to my grandma about roses, literature and art, in a roundabout conversation that would start at the same point as she forgot what she had said. During one of those repetitive turns, I used a phrase she had used before, and she stopped, uncertain and stared at me. I felt so guilty I dropped her gaze and forced the conversation forwards. I never called her “Abuela”, “Grandma” in Spanish, but called her by her name because we had grown up used to her being Abuelita Bertha thanks to how my dad called her. I didn’t know until her death how much it mattered to her being called Abuelita- something my dad told me at some point. I don’t know. I don’t remember. My dad also unearthed a photo of her when she was young here in Peru at some time- he said she looks exactly like me, and I put the photo away in my art folder. Sometimes, I’m afraid of looking at it, of seeing the grandma I never got to know closely and who forgot me, and seeing myself in it. Mostly, I still have this feeling of guilt, which the few people I’ve told about tell me is displaced. But for some reason, I cannot think of my grandmother without feeling tight in my chest, and my throat. And she comes into my life in strange moments, though not often. There was the time we, my family, were eating lunch or dinner at some place, and my father stared at me for a second, looking concerned a bit unfocused. “Right now, you just looked your Abuelita Bertha.” I wanted to know what I had done. Anything that would connect me positively with the grandmother I neglected. “I don’t know what, pero hiciste un gesto, you made a gesture, that reminded me of her.” I didn’t pursue the subject. I was too afraid of what it would mean emotionally to both of us. And sometimes I think that if I had really wanted to figure in my grandmother’s life, I could have made her a picture, which she could keep with her.

My Great Uncle Fernando does not affect me as closely emotionally. He died a brilliant man, his mind very much alive and active, a respected man who was much admired in Japan, where he often exhibited his artworks. I only knew him for a year, and it was he that received us in his musty house when we first moved to London, where I watched in awe at the man who had made the paintings hanging around our house, wherever we moved, since I can remember, before becoming distracted with life and being a child. I remember, at least I think I do, wanting to show him my art but feeling it was not enough. I cannot even remember if he ever saw any of my drawings, ever. But I felt pride in being a relative to such a great man. I felt happy that despite being quiet and removed, he was having us stay over, that he would care for us. And my mother loved him dearly, I believe as much as her father. One of my happier memories involves the whole extended family in London going to see one of those heritage buildings that worked as a museum, with large gardens in a pleasant summer day. We had a wonderful picnic, after walking and admiring the house and the furniture. And his house was close to ours, a musty and somewhat uncomfortable, but still safe place. Still a safe place.

My little cousin, Eduardo, who knew him far more, wrote this for him:

I was there with him, in his white-walled studio. There was no sound other than the quiet rustle of his rough tweed jacket and the clomp of his red leather shoes as he walked to and fro, from his easel positioned professionally in the middle of the room. A faint smell of burning came from the fire and the smell of the egg-tempera paints filled the room.

I sat entranced. In front of me was a painting, but I was not consciously sitting in the chair. I was over a thousand miles away in Bolivia on the Alti-plano, watching the silhouette of two indigenous people stride over the flat expanse. The light slanted through the cracked remains of the window of the sun. In a few moments the sun would set and the moon would rise, forming the arch of light. Suddenly the light of the setting sun flickered and poured through the arch. At the same moment the moon rose and the silvery glimmer penetrated the dark and entered the arch. A beam of purple light flashed through the arch and was gone.

Then I returned to the studio. The painting was finished. My grandfather turned. His lips were twisted up in a smile. His eyes glinted blue and slowly he reached out for a new canvas and began another.

How old is my cousin? Seven years old? And he wrote this? Amazing.

The death of these two have been haunting me for months now, and these memories hurt and weigh me down. But I don’t want to throw them away, because they are all I have left of the precious opportunity I had and wasted. I have been depressed, blocked for moths. Some of it has gone away. Some of it returns and goes.

So sometimes the memories are bittersweet ones, that hurt and eat me inside. But they are more precious then my pain. And I will eat the bitterness and digest it, till I have as much of the sweetness as I can, even if it will always have a tinge of bitterness.

But hey, maybe it’s like the sour candy- it will add to it. And make my life all the more important, since I now appreciate those around me more.


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  1. * smexy says:

    Aww, I hope you’ll feel better hun! Keep it up good!

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 10 months ago

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