Our hearts continue to go out to our compadres in Guatemala. Humberto's mother, "Abuelita" (little grandmother) to the kids, passed away Sunday at the age of 75. She is the matriarch of the alley on which the whole family lives.
When we first met her, Humberto warned us that, having lived through the terrible Guatemalan civil war in the '80's and '90's, when Mayans were persecuted and even massacred, she was wary of outsiders. He meant this in case we perceived her as unfriendly to us in some way, because we are foreigners. But the truth is that she never did. She was always very polite to us. We weren't able to communicate much with her in words, because of our poor Spanish. But she soon saw how much we loved her grandchildren, and that was what mattered to her. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and we feel that she accepted us as members of the family.
Family Visit to La Aurora Zoo
We shared some fun times with her over the past 5 years: baptism parties for Aracely and then Eddy, Vanesa's quinceañera, a trip to the zoo in Guatemala City, a New Year's Eve Party, and a joint birthday party for Yasmin and Paola. We also went to the family's farmland in San Gabriel (outside of Panajachel), where she had grown corn and coffee since Humberto was a child. She harvested enough corn to supply her and her chickens through a year, and they would sell the coffee that they grew.
Abuelita and Eddy at Eddy's christening
Most recently, we had gone on a family picnic at a gorgeous lakeside villa.Toward the end of the day, she was sitting in a chair on the green lawn overlooking the gorgeous Lake Atitlan and its surrounding volcanoes. She looked totally at peace. This is how we will remember her.
Abuelita relaxing at Lake Atitlan
It is sad that she had to experience the loss of her great-grandson David in the weeks leading up to her death. She had been in declining health for the past year or two, and maybe she decided it was time for her to go as well, to continue to look after David.
We received devastating news from Guatemala on Tuesday:
David, Humberto and Paulina’s 4-year-old nephew and the kids’ cousin, passed
away unexpectedly. We have limited information about the circumstances, but it
seems that he injured his leg a week prior. It was still bothering him Tuesday
morning, so his parents took him to the doctor. After several tests, the doctor
said all looked fine and they sent him home. Later in the day, his condition
worsened. They brought him back to the hospital, where he passed away.
David and his parents Blanca and Pablo live several doors
down from Humberto and family. David was often outside playing with his
cousins. We really got to know the three of them starting this past January,
when we visited for New Year’s. They came to Humberto and Paulina’s New Year’s
Eve party, and to Yasmin and Paola’s joint birthday party the following day.
When we visited last month for the 4th of July, they came to a house
party at Humberto and Paulina’s, and we also spent a day with them at a villa
on Lake Atitilan, having a cookout and swimming and kayaking.
David was a very sweet child. Craig and I joked that he was
my boyfriend, because he seemed to have a little crush on me. He often tried to
get my attention by calling “Hola Stephanie! Hola Stephanie!” and he wasn’t
satisfied until I specifically addressed him with “Hola David!” In fact, the
last time we saw him and his parents and grandmother was when we went out for
pizza with the family the night before we returned home. We were finishing up
our meal when they arrived at the restaurant. We all waved to one another and
we stopped by their table as we left. David was not satisfied with a
greeting addressed to the entire family; he kept calling “Hola Stephanie!”
until I specifically addressed him by name.
It is hard to believe that this vibrant doe-eyed little boy
no longer graces the earth with his presence. He always had a smile for us and
we will remember him fondly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire
family during this difficult time. We are heartbroken.