Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Crying Game

As we are cruising down I-95 home from a day of lots of waterpark and almost but really not enough sunscreen, I call my Mom (who is in "another time zone") to check in with her to see if she's talked to Abuelo and knows how he's doing today since I saw him at 8am.

She tells me she talked to him.

 He's sad. He's lonely. He's crying.

He really doesn't want to move to the "much nicer" place a mile or two away that has "Village" in its name and is often called a "retirement community."

I know he doesn't want to go, and I don't blame him.

It isn't like he's moving to the dorms at Harvard, proud of himself for landing a coveted spot.

It isn't even like when he left Cuba in 1960 for what he expected to be a "short vacation" from Castro's revolution.

He's looking down the barrel at soon leaving the house he's lived in for decades, the one Abuela lived in too.

Moving on to the "next part of his life" doesn't feel so good, and -- more than he can know -- I understand.

When we get out of the car, before I even change out of my bathing suit I march straight through my parents' backyard to Abuelo's door. He answers. 

He doesn't look that sad; more tired and disheveled.

Without much small talk beforehand he straight out  tells me, "I'm sad. I'm depressed. I want to cry. I feel useless..."

I nod my head. "I totally understand. I'm sad and I'm depressed and I cry all the time.  Let's do it together, I bet I can cry longer. Let me in...."

He laughs and stands in the door shaking his head.

Apparently I'm reading off a different script because he doesn't know what to say at first.

"You know what, you're a piece of work" he says, and I can't help but shake my head and laugh too because I know I could have beaten him in both intensity and duration if he really wanted to challenge me to a crying war.

"You're not sad. You're not depressed. You just need some rest" he tells me, like he's now the designated advisor to sad people.

 I say "No, I don't need to sleep, I don't need to rest, I need to work more.  I get sad when no one needs me, like I'm invisible and I might as well disappear... now can I come in and cry?"

He laughs again and says "No crying, lets just dance...." and before I could even start to take him up on his offer,  my kids started shouting for things (I'm sunburnt! I'm hungry! Where is my camera? where is my snake?) and I dance away by myself, leaving him smiling, for now.