When my abuela Tania passed away this past May, she left behind many treasures, many of which seemed very intriguing to me...shoes. I took two pairs of her shoes, both of which were white. But one of the pair have always been my favorite. They are white (of course) with a tiny little square heel in the sole area and have delicate laces that are mostly there for decoration.
Coming to Venezuela, I thought it would be appropriate to bring that pair because a) I love shoes b) they are practical and c) most importantly, because these shoes were worn here by my abuela tania. Coming here, I have learned so much about myself but I have learned even more about my abuelos who lived here. Growing up, I lived in California then Mercer Island and the abuelos Maxim lived in Caracas or Miami so they weren't around as much as we all would have liked but eventually they did move to Mercer Island and we were able to create memories then. Their life in Caracas was always so unknown to me, I had heard stories but at such a young age, most things went in one ear and came out the other. That's why I knew coming here was more important than going to any other country. The last 4 or 5 years of my abuela tania's life was taken over by dementia so the stories became much more hazy. Our lack of communication made it hard for me to truly understand where they came from. Luckily, my abuelo petre was/is sharp as a knife so I could hear stories from him but it always saddened me that as I got older, her dementia took over. Being here in Caracas, meeting some of their old friends has given me an in as to how life was for them. How social they were, how much their friends looked up to them. I keep being told, 'Oh yes, you look so much like Aleco, and even Tania!' As I look at old photographs they show me, I see the resemblance and not just in me but as well as my sister. The connection I have felt to my abuelos has been so strong here, it's almost as if they are with me now.
I don't have any regrets or feel bummed out because we lived in different countries for so long. Being here has shown me their life in Caracas and we have been connected for indefinitely. Sometimes I wish me and abuela tania could stroll down the streets together in Caracas, me wearing the white suede shoes and she wearing some trendy fur coat, gossiping and chatting about life.
But instead, I will carry her in my heart as I walk in her white suede shoes.