She had one friend, but she was in a nursing home located across the state and had dementia. Her only child lived across the country, and he barely had time for her. Most days, she sat in her white rattan chair on the porch of her little blue and white bungalow across the street from Eucalyptus Park. She watched the people walk their dogs; older men going through their daily Tai Chi routine, young boys with scraped knees playing soccer, and other various park activities that people do under the bright sunshine and temperate coastal climate.
But it was the Spanish parties on the weekends that Norma relished the most in Eucalyptus Park.
The parties occurred every weekend and had plenty of love and closeness. Often there were brass bands to enliven the spirit and to get everyone dancing. While the men unfolded the tables and cooked meats on the fire pit, the women set the tables, minded the children and kept an eye on the elderly family members.
These Spanish parties always made Norma think of her family get-togethers growing up in Charleston, South Carolina. Her family used to talk for hours and laugh about things that she thought was funny and how Uncle George had such a booming voice that you could hear him from blocks away and the manner in which her mother mispronounced long words with a thick Polish accent. She missed her mother’s golabki and pierogi and her father’s singing voice to the songs from the old country and his amateur accordion playing that made the parties all the more humorous.
It was the family time that Norma missed the most in her waning years. With everyone gone, she could only watch the joyful Spanish families from her white rattan chair on her porch and feel the family love and connection vicariously.