I grew up with my grandparents in tiny apartment, in a small Romanian city. My parents lived 1-hour away, in the “big city”, where they were pursuing an education/working. There weren’t too many kids in my neighborhood. Most of my buddies were my grandma’s friends. These ladies came over regularly for coffee & gossip – no text messages or emails, just pure presence. I used to love listening to their conversations about food, work, fashion, husbands, etc.
Lula was my grandmother’s friend. She lived with her husband Stere, in a small apartment that smelt like stew & chocolate. She had green, teary plants and she taught me to eat slowly and enjoy food. She also held my hand and told me stories with her candid and gentle voice. She was delicately thin, dyed her hair red and loved reading. I never really knew why she didn’t have her own kids, but she was instinctively caring and loving towards others.
Her friendship with my grandmother had their ups and downs, but I loved being dropped off at Lula’s house during hot summer afternoons. She let me draw, took me to the park and let me skim through her 80’s fashion magazines.
I was 19 last time I saw her. She was weak and her ugliness was so beautiful to me. Everything about me had changed, but her home was the same: same furniture, decorations, same TV, same musky smell. We sat on her living room couch, surrounded by her plants and the quietness of her home. She opened a drawer full of the drawings and scribbles I have made as a child. Emotions ran through my body and felt flooding love for this lady who cared for me and kept my memories.
I don’t think of her as often as I should, but today I’m paying homage to Lula. Most of us are touched by special people in the most unexpected ways. Lula wasn’t family, but she was the pure expression of unconditional love. I miss her, miss my grandmother, miss my childhood… I am thankful for the memories.