Pan Lactal

pan lactal“Milk bread”. Gladys used to buy it on a panadería in Calle 12, a few blocks from her house. I can still smell it, so fresh, perhaps even warm from the oven. For Granny she bought pan de centeno, rye bread. It was dark and much less appealing. We ate the toasted bread with butter and strawberry jam with tea – it was so good.
My parents ought sliced bread, much cheaper and easier. I still remember the brand, Fargo, a little more expensive but softer. I sort of remember the plastic bag it came in – different from the ones now. I don’t remember how it tasted, but it was great in dulce de leche sandwiches. BTW, there are few things more delicious than bread with butter and dulce de leche – at least with Argentine butter.
I don’t remember if Gladys was still buying that bread when we visited her in 2003 and 2005-6. I don’t even remember going alone to the bakery to buy it – I barely remember the bakery at all. But the bread, that I remember.

Más Gladys

De nuevo tu foto. Frente a mi monitor. Te veo ahí, sonriente, joven (tendrás setenta y pico), con tu saco rojo que le hace juego a tus labios, siempre pintados. Tus ojos color acua, ni verde ni celestes, preciosos.
Me estoy por ir a la casa de una amiga, a visitar y tomar el té (sabés? todos los meses me reúno con un grupo de amigas a tomar el té – te lo conté alguna vez?). Te veo de reojo y me parece que venís conmigo, que te estás arreglando para irnos. Vos sabías, Gladys, que yo te seguiría llevando a todas partes después de tu muerte?
Creo que nunca me creí que te ibas a morir. Veo tu foto y estás ahí y no lo comprendo. Me dan ganas de llamarte, ir a visitarte, decirte cuanto te quiero.
Son dos años y medio; estabas tan viejita, pero yo estaba segura, segura, que ibas a llegar a los 90, que íbamos a ir a celebrar tu cumpleaños.
Hoy lloré por la muerte de Mercedes Sosa (no creo que te gustara, vos no eras folclorista) y Camila me preguntó si estaba llorando por vos. Siempre, no?
Todavía no puedo recordar sin llanto, quizás algún día.
Bueno, me voy a tomar el té, te mando un beso.

Gladys – a photo

A couple of days ago I went searching for photos of Gladys. I only found a couple, I’m hoping I have more somewhere else, but this seems to suffice for now.
I’ve put the picture, of Gladys sitting with my mom, my sister and I at our Christmas table in 2000, the last time she came to the US (she was already 82 years old). We had just bought the house, so we celebrated Christmas here.
It’s terribly sad but I have practically no memories of her visit – and really, of any of her visits here. At first I thought I was just blocking them, but it’s been two years since her death and I still can’t find them. I know she stayed at our house with Kathy for a few more days after my parents left – and I know she really loved our cats, but that’s about it.
But since I put the picture below my computer monitor, where I see her, at least indirectly every so often, I have the feeling that she’s here. I don’t mean her spirit, but that she’s actually visiting. That I will see her around a corner, that I’m going to ask her what she wants for dinner (a memory! I made ropa vieja when she came), that we are going to sit on the couch and watch the kids play. Now tears.
When Gladys died I spent days crying. Everyone – aunts, uncles, cousins – kept trying to console me, make me feel better. But all I wanted to do was cry, mourn her, experience my pain. I don’t cry that often now, perhaps every two or three days and not for very long – but I do mourn her.
And yet, that picture and the somewhat ephimerous feeling that she’s here.