She carried it with her when she traveled. That's the first thing I would see her carry into the house when she arrived. Hanging from her hands, those warm loving hands. It was always full of make-up, jewelry and other trinkets that any child would find amazing. And sometimes she would have something wonderful hidden in there, just for me.
Oh how I loved to see that little suitcase. It meant she was here to stay for a while. To hug me, to sing with me, to play with me, to listen to me. My first best friend. My abuelita. But never would I call her that. Oh, no. She felt she was far too young to be called abuela, so instead I simply called her Mama Lisa. My mama Lisa.
Always so elegant. She walked into a room and all would turn and look at her. An amazing woman. A confident woman. A strong woman. She raised two girls all on her own after her very young husband died of cancer. She moved to the United States and taught herself English. She spoke it impeccable. She worked hard. She sent both my mother and aunt to private schools both here in the US and in Mexico. She sent them to college as well. She never gave up. I admired her then. I admire her more now that I am a mother. She was incredible.
I miss her. I was only nine years old when she died.
To this day I look up to her, and always wonder how she would have handled things. I know she is guiding me from up above.
So when this past spring while visiting my parents, my mother walks into the house (after searching for something for a while in the garage) holding this same little suitcase, I knew exactly who it belonged to. "De mama Lisa!" I exclaimed. She didn't need to say it. My eyes began to get wet. Memories flashed by.
"Para ti," said my mom. For me? "Si," she responded.
And when I carefully opened it, inside we found this:
The one and only things inside.
A birthday card she had sent me as a child.
It was my Mama Lisa's way of telling us it was meant for me.
Gracias Mama Lisa!
And look, I filled it with lace and trims! (I know she would appreciate that very much because she loved sewing as much as both my mami and I do.)
...and tucked inside with all that lace and trim I keep my birthday card to remind me of how special I was to her.