April 10, 2012

Bye Aba, Love You

How wonderful! Enjoy! Enjoy!

My grandma said this on Saturday when she heard I was going on a trip. She passed away in her sleep yesterday.

Anita Baldini was born in NYC. I could give a year, but she wouldn’t like that.

As the daughter of a General Motors man, she grew up in Brazil, Panama, and Venezuela (among other places).

Her older —and only— brother died in the Pacific during WII, he flew a TBF Avenger. He wrote give all my love to Anita” in all the letters I’ve read.

My grandma wasn’t crazy about flying. This didn’t stop her for boarding everything from the Concorde to my Dad’s Islander to go on a trip. She loved trips.

She met Freddy Mateu, my Grandfather, on a ship from the US to Venezuela. They married in Cuba. There’s no prof of that” he would say, and she’d puff her lips and shake her head.

She would speak to him in english and he’d reply in spanish. Their three children would use whatever language got them out of trouble.

Anita was the eternal American expat. People would commend her spanish thinking she had just arrived, I couldn’t tell them I had been in Caracas 30 years by then”.

She once told my uncle she was forgetting some of her english, he replied then you should at least learn sign language, because you don’t know spanish yet”. She had no problem with laughing at herself.

She never let truth get in the way of politeness. A disaster of a situation could be marvelous” if surrounded by good intentions. However, she had no issues arguing with a bartender if he hadn’t served the right whiskey.

Food and fashion were her passions. Both enjoyed in quality and not quantity. Well, this may not be entirely accurate with regards to sweets.

For us 6 grandchildren she was Aba. 

As a kid, I remember Aba giving the most amazing presents (1st Nintendo, custom Powell Peralta skateboard) and always having delicious lunches.

As an adult, her fierce independence, incredibly peculiar sense of humor and attitude, are things I admired.

She also told real stories. Her stories didn’t have a problem mentioning that Abu (grandpa) was being difficult, or somebody was an ass —”don’t tell you father I used that word”— or of hard times. 

They were never sad stories, in most cases her sincerity was laugh-out-loud funny, but I still learned that attitude was a lens that helped shape your view of the world.

How wonderful! Enjoy! Enjoy!

To be completely honest, I can’t remember exactly if she said wonderful or marvelous. She said both words so often I can picture her perfectly saying either. 

And I think that has to be one best ways in the world to be remembered.

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