In honor of Mother's Day being tomorrow, I decided to write about my Nana. The pic below is actually a picture I scanned from an old photo album she gave me recently from one of our Disney World trips like the one mentioned in this story
Also, my birth first name is Jamie, I just go by Lyssa, which is my middle name
My nana called me today. She usually doesn’t call me very much, so whenever I see her name on the caller ID, I mentally panic. The same goes for anytime a member of my family calls me. We aren’t the most social family. My dad recently discovered text messaging, but it’s hard to interpret his messages when he invents his own acronyms and emojis, and every so often I’ll get a text from him, but that’s really it. The extent of our communication is the weekly phone calls I make to them. To be honest, I tend to avoid my family, they are the main reason I decided to move to Texas, and usually, when they call me, it’s because there’s some sort of bad news.
Nana is ninety-eight years old. She can’t really see anymore. Earlier this year I convinced my parents to get her an “Alexa.” Her eyesight is too bad to see the numbers on a phone anymore. Now whenever she wants to call somebody, she just asks Alexa to call whoever. She doesn’t really understand technology either. Whenever the internet stops working, she complains that Alexa is mad at her. She takes it personally too.
“Hi, Nana?” I say.
“Jamie, this is Nana Rebeca,” she always says. I tried to explain to her once that my cell phone automatically tells me that she’s calling me, and she doesn’t need to tell me it’s her, but she doesn’t listen. “I got your Mother’s Day card in the mail.”
“I’m glad it got there,” I said, “You never know with Texas mail.”
“It’s a beautiful card,” she says.
I can picture her in my mind. She was probably sitting at her kitchen table. I can hear mumbled Spanish in the background, and I’m pretty sure she was watching her Spanish soap operas. My grandmother grew up in Mexico. She was born in Russia, but during World War Two, she immigrated to Mexico and was raised there. When I was little, she tried to teach me how to speak Spanish. She often tells me about how she used to teach me to sing songs in Spanish when I would go over there to visit. I took Spanish in high school and college, but I never really used it outside of class and lost most of the language. Sometimes on the phone, she’ll talk to me in Spanish, and I understand her, but I answer in English. I’ve been trying to get my Spanish language skills back with duo lingo, but phrases like “soy un mujer” and “como pan” aren’t exactly her idea of conversing in Spanish. She was probably drinking green tea as she watched her soap opera. “How are my grand kitties?”
“They’re good,” I answer, “They’re sleeping.”
“Do you remember when you were little?” Do you remember our trips to Disney World?”
“I remember when we went to Disney,” I say, “I remember riding the Dumbo ride with Papa.” I don’t mention how I remember the Dumbo ride breaking as Papa and I rode on it, and we were stranded what seemed like very high up when I was five, but was probably maybe only ten or twelve feet in the air, in reality. I haven’t ridden the Dumbo ride since. “I also remember riding Peter Pan and Space Mountain.”
My grandparents used to have an apartment in Orlando. Every morning, after breakfast, Papa and I would go to the pool. We used to race across the pool. I would always win. My papa would make a big deal about how hard he tried to beat me, but he just couldn’t because I was too fast. Years later, I realized he had always let me win. We would go to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot during the day. Nana always really liked Epcot. She liked walking through the world showcase and going to the Mexico pavilion. She loved the “El Rio del Tiempo” ride. I don’t remember much about it except it a lot like “It’s a Small World.” The dolls were clad in the clothing and music that my nana had grown up with, in Mexico. She said it reminded her of home. After we spent the day at the park, we would go back to the apartment. We would eat dinner and then Nana would give me Neapolitan ice cream in my Mickey Mouse bowl. Papa and I would sit on the balcony and he would teach me about the stars and outer space.
“When we were in the park, people would stop me. They would tell me that you had the most beautiful curly hair. You have beautiful curly blond hair, Jamie.” I wince on the other end of the phone as I pace around my den, my hair in a shower cap because I decided to dye it purple several hours earlier.
“Thank you,” I say.
“I’m going to go. I’m tired. I just wanted to say thank you for the card. I haven’t gotten a card in years. Thank you for thinking of me, Jamie. I hope the world gets less mashugana soon and you can come home and visit.”
“Happy Mother’s Day, Nana.”