When I was little and my family still lived in Gardner, Massachusetts, my mum's aunt and uncle also still lived in that town. My mum grew up with them in a brick house at a quiet intersection and we'd go over for dinner every now and then.
I remember this one time, Tata made a pineapple upside-down cake for dessert and at that time it was the yummiest thing I had ever tasted (except maybe for strawberry ice cream) so she let me have seconds. I remember her cutting another slice for me and sliding it onto my plate, smiling warmly the whole time.
Tata passed away earlier today after her battle with cancer. Within the first weeks after her diagnosis, there was hope that she'd live another couple years. However, her body did not respond to chemo and radiation and what started out as breast cancer became her tiny body's battle against the tumors in her chest and on her back. For the last few weeks of her life, the only medication she was given were concoctions to keep her sleepy and painless.
My mum was there with her in Florida for the last few months, at the bedside of the woman who raised her. There's relief that there's no more pain but of course, the heartache at knowing that someone so vibrant and vital in my family is gone and that the woman who was essentially my mom's mom is no longer on this earth.
This is Tata in younger and healthier times, on her wedding day when she was twenty years old.
*Please note, those are not black stains on her dress, just scuffs on my photograph.
I'll remember that sweet face and her sweet accent- and the pineapple upside-down cake, and the warm brick house at that quiet intersection.