As a reward for going with her to church she would make me waffles with tons of syrup for breakfast. Followed by cantaloupe and ice cream. I was around 10 years old and already chubby, so didn't mind more expressions of this kind of love.
I considered it an honor and a privilege to help her in anyway I could. She was so kind and loving to me. Living just a mile away on Sacramento Avenue, I sometimes rode our clunky blue bike to her house or walked there with my sister Yoya, at my mother's suggestion.
Mainly, we went to play in her basement and spy on our uncle Chito, who lived with her. Victoria was her housekeeper, cook, and caregiver. She crossed from Juarez almost daily to help out with my grandmother.
So I learned how to behave when faced with an elderly person's slowness or disability. I think back to Matu for how to treat old folks.
When my sister Marty had a relapse of Hodgkin's disease, she endured so much chemo that it made her throw up all the time, lose her hair and feel generally miserable. (She also went a little bit crazy.)
My mother Berta and Marty's husband were her caregivers, doing as much as they could for Marty and her three kids. I didn't understand what a caregiver was back then, only that my mom was at Marty's house all the time. I'm sure she had to perform some difficult tasks.
And when an horrific auto accident injured my own mother's spinal chord at vertebrae C7 leaving her quadriplegic, my dad was thrust into the role of caregiver. Her legs and hands were paralyzed.
For 12 years, along with itinerant nurses and aides, he tended to my mother like a saint, until her death in 2008.
He even bought a Dodge van with a lift for her power wheelchair so they could go to doctors' appointments or to Luby's cafeteria, for lunch now and then. My dad, a former house builder, added-on a bathroom off her bedroom complete with roll-in shower and handrails. By all token, dad became a professional caregiver.
And Yolanda does do it professionally. She goes into people's homes, helping out until they pass.
It's something everyone will all have to do, eventually--care for or be cared by a loved one--even if somebody else is hired to do the heavy lifting.
Next time, I will shed light on my circumstances and my carer, Chris.