My Abuela, Clara Luz Fernandez de Bloise, was born and raised in Mendoza, Argentina by her single, hard-working mother during the days of Eva Perón. My Abuela was a very talented seamstress for many years. But her heart was not at the sewing machine. Her life’s work, her passion, her pride, was her family. She made food for her five children, their husbands and wives, and all her many grandchildren. Abuela would set her work aside, and spend all day making homemade ravioli and noquis. At the end of the day we would all sit at a very long table and eat together. She loved birds, flowers, painting, and believed that if we only talked to our plants, they would grow stronger.
Oh, but Abuela was witty too. She was mischievous and playful. She’d pull hilarious stunts and get away with it because she was Clara Luz for goodness sakes. “Doña Luz” got into people’s hearts, and no one who met her could help but just LOVE her and the lightheartedness she came with. And she just loved them back. She was just that kind of person, you know?
She married a very handsome man in 1951. My beloved Abuelo, Eduardo Fernando Bloise. He loved cars, planes, and above all, the Tango.
On March 21st, 1983, my Abuela got the call that I had been born. She was determined to come see me, and nothing was getting in her way. So my Abuela sold her wedding ring and used all the money to get her first passport and buy a one-way ticket to Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
My Abuela believes [and so do I] that she had an encounter with an angel on her way to see me. A foreigner who did not know a lick of English, she was terrified when she arrived at the DFW airport. A “tall gringo” approached her, spoke to her in her dialect, and led her to her gate only to disappear when she turned to thank him.
My Abuela and I. She made my blue dress out of one of my dad’s shirts.
Some of my favorite memories of my Abuela, are of the two of us sharing hours upon hours sitting in her dining room. I would walk to her house after school, and stay there as long as my parents allowed. She would work at her sewing machine while I did my homework at the table. I would take breaks to help her undo seams, or iron pieces that she’d completed. Abuela never seemed to mind that I talked her ear off about school, boys, mean girls, and things that consume the mind of an elementary school girl. I told her all about my deepest insecurities and fears. Abuela always listened. Abuela always had time.
“Vos no sos mejor que nadie, y nadie es mejor que vos.”
“You are better than no one. And no one is better than you.”
Powerful words for a 10 year-old who already struggled with self-loathing. Words that will stay with me forever.
My Abuela’s health declined with each passing winter, and this current cold season was the final straw. On August 22, 2018 I got to talk to my Abuela on the phone for the last time. My dad and I stood in my kitchen and sang her a couple of her favorite songs, prayed for her, and tried our best to comfort her.
This is a moment that I will treasure and carry with me all of my days.
After a hard last few weeks of life, on the evening of Sunday, August 26th, 2018, my Abuela passed away. A woman whose ring finger was bare for the last 35 years of her life because once there are children and grandchildren in the picture, the symbolic circle of endless love expands beyond marriage. And the evidence of endless married love is right here in Cincinnati, Ohio, in this 35 year-old woman who loves and owes so much to her Abuelos. The evidence is in Mendoza. In Buenos Aires. In Tarragona, Spain. In a small city near Barcelona. In West Virginia. And it’s on route across the USA to Texas today. My Abuela is a woman whose passing makes the flowers lose a tiny bit of tint.
Knowing Abuela, she probably snuck that extra hue of color off to heaven for the canvases she will paint up there. I imagine God just shook his head, chuckled, and said “Ay, Doña Luz”. Like everyone did.