To The Greatest Woman Who Ever LivedOne day in therapy I was discussing with my therapist who I wanted to be. And then to my dismay I suddenly burst out crying, a rarity for me. In that moment I realized who I wanted to be, and felt the weight of all the emotion behind it. Who I wanted to be was someone who I had known once, a long time ago.
When I was a young child there was a woman who lived down the street. Her name was Anna, she was from Argentina. She had expressed interest in babysitting me while my parents were at work. From my earliest memories Anna was already well into her fifties, yet seemed much younger, she had a elegant beauty about her. She had cropped curly brown hair, green eyes, and wore long, flowing skirts. I spent a lot of time at Anna's house. I don't remember this, but my mother tells me I could count to ten in spanish before I could in english. Anna introduced me to a world that was radically different than my homelife; a safe environment where I could just be. Her english wasn't great, though she communicated very well. But that was Anna. She did everything well, and thoughtfully, and beautifully. Her house was decorated with incredible oil paintings she did herself. She could sing, play the piano and accordion, knit and crochet, and her cooking.... She didn't own a microwave which was unfathomable to me at the time. We made homemade empanadas from scratch, to this day I have never had anything so delicious. She was incredibly kind and smart. She was my babysitter, but that seems too informal, she was really more like a nanny with all the time I spent at her house, for years... until I grew into a hormonal, angsty, pre-teen brat.
When I was around twenty-three, and my angsty days were behind me, my mother called me to let me know Anna was in the hospital dying, and would I want to go visit her. We went to the hospital where we were met by Anna's adult children. We gathered around Anna, sleeping peacefully in the hospital bed. As we talked to eachother, Anna woke up, and looked around at her children. She looked a little medicated. I was doubtful she would know who I was, she was a little out of it and hadn't seen me in over a decade. But when her eyes fell on me, her sweet face contorted with emotion and she began quietly weeping. I took her hand and burst into tears too, and she fell back asleep.
That was the last time I saw her. But I will never forget her, in fact, now I love her more than ever because only through experiencing all the half-assed mediocre people and the underwhelming disappointments of life have I realized what a rare and precious gem Anna was. Her children too were incredibly wonderful. Her son, much to my surprise at her funeral, was sporting a nearly identical tattoo to mine in the same place on his arm. (I was delighted by this). Her daughter named her own daughter after me. Theyre great people raised by an amazing person.
Anna is who I strive to be... now and when I get older. I have struggled with this, with my desire for perfection. Women are so pressured to excel in their careers, the value of being domestic is undervalued and lost. But her life was beautifully simple, and I yearn for that. I like Anna, strive to do even the littlest things beautifully and thoughtfully. She has left a huge mark on me, and for the rest of my life I will carry with me Anna's spirit.