my parents are busy people. So from pre-school to the sixth grade, they asked someone to take care of my brother and I.
They found a Portuguese woman in her 50s/60s, a former teacher with hair always up in some crazy bun -pencils sticking out. Now she is like a surrogate mother to me.
She did what she was supposed to do- help us with homework, drive us to school, pack our lunches, and cook our dinners.
We did so much more together though: she took us thrifting, riding on the trolley around Ojai, showed me what great movies were, and she taught me how to garden in her own yard. We even spent our summers with her, reading on the hammock in her backyard and cooking fabulous meals in her kitchen. Museums, grocery shopping, sewing, we’ve done it all. Some of my favorite moments though were all the card/board games we’d play. We’d use monopoly money to play poker and take Nab-it too seriously.
She is hilarious in her own, unique way. Between her, my brother, and I, we have several inside jokes. Something about the way she talks and the way she says things just makes you laugh. I can’t explain it, but the way older people, like her, words things are just so charming to me. She uses words like ‘lousy’ and ‘baloney.’
I love how practicable and sensible she is, and so down to earth. One of her best traits was always her common sense and wisdom.
When middle school came, we stopped seeing each other every day. Unfortunately, my brother and I were independent enough to take care of ourselves.
It is impossible to put into words the impact she left on me and my life. She played a big role in shaping the person I am today. I can honestly credit her for my love of gardening, Portuguese music, rainbow bridge tea, and a million other of my little traits. She’s the reason why I read the news every morning because she made me. It’s because of her that I say “Oh well” whenever something bad happens. I owe my exclusive love for Annie’s white cheddar mac n cheese to her. I know also, she is the reason why a lot of people comment I’m so different from my own Mom (whom I still love of course).
This winter break I got to visit her for the first time in 4 years, and I am happy to report she is as funny and witty as always. The chemistry between her, my brother, and me is no different. We probably would have never stopped catching up if it weren’t for my Mom practically dragging me out of her house because of a doctor’s appointment or something.