As of 9:00 am Saturday morning (3:00 am EST) we are in Malaga, Spain. Our last day in Paris was the usual: tiring but beautiful, with visits to the Notre Dame, the Galeries Lafayettes (mainly for a coffee atop the 7th floor panoramic terrace, as shopping is tres cher) and Au Printemps department stores, and the Sacre Coeur, ending the day off with Dani running around Les Jardins Tuileries and riding the carrousel.
Seeing the magnificent white Basilique du Sacre Coeur sitting atop that hill reminds me of my late Aunt, known affectionately as Tita Peng. She was a simple and inspiring lady. She had devoted her life to God and only wore white, which is why I thought of her yesterday. She passed away in 2004, in my first year (2nd attempt) of college. In my early years after first moving to Toronto from Calgary, she was always so kind and supportive. Ever since our arrival, my mother’s 4th eldest sister had always been my favourite. Though she was never officially ordained (pretty sure that’s not the right word, but there isn’t any wifi for me to google it so it’ll do), we always thought of her as a nun, and were actively part of her prayer group called Rufina’s Family Crusade. We would bring the Mother Mary from home to home and pray the rosary together, and we had even taken a pilgrimage to Montreal to visit churches and spread our word. I remember sleeping in a cot in a bare-bones monastery there, and that it felt cold and quite eerie. There was nothing on the bed other than a sheet and nothing on the walls, so I stuck a small prayer card of St. Joseph on the wall above my head with some toothpaste to protect me.
I also remember doing processions in the streets of downtown Toronto. My aunt always talked to and never turned away from the homeless, bringing them food and an ear to listen whenever they needed one. She didn’t even own a television in her apartment.
Going through my rebellious years, I would fight with my mother a lot, and I remember one incident when my mother told me to get out of the house. For a week I did, staying with my boyfriend at the time. Then I received a call from her, telling me she was sorry and to return home because she loved me (she had never, ever in my memory admitted she was wrong, nor apologized for much of anything). I later learned this was under the influence of my Tita Peng. After hearing of our fight and the harsh words exchanged, she was appalled at her younger sister and told her to call me and tell me to come home right away. Now, I was a pretty wild teenager who partied many late nights, yet my aunt never doubted that I had my head on straight and I’d make something of myself. In my eyes, she was the only great influence in my life who really knew and believed in me.
I thought of you, that beautiful white presence atop the hill, Tita Peng. I wonder if you can see for yourself, but in case you can’t, I’m working very hard. I’m trying to be the best person and mother I can and I think you’d be proud. I wish you were here to see for yourself. Danica would have loved to know you, too.
I miss you every day.
Love, your Di-Di