Equidad, 2022, by Gustavo Polanco Hernández
Painting by Gustavo Polanco Hernández.

I found a photo in my camera roll and it made me feel melancholy. Who knows if it was the last kiss of affection between them? He, who always looked for her to give her his love; she was rough and avoidant but always careful to ensure that her handkerchief was neatly folded inside her clean and ironed shirt.

Las Tunas, Cuba.- I saw my grandfather look at my grandmother affectionately even when she seemed stoic and distant. For everyone, Papá Marrero; for my grandmother, Félix, “just”. Once he entered through the door, in one hand, the bicycle that took him everywhere, in the other, a sprig of forget-me-not for Irma, his love. What Ema, my daughter and I call purple, for my grandmother was “mauve,” her favorite color. And Felix knew it.

Irma and félix couple.Although they did not drink from the same glass of water, nor could Felix for any reason in the world confuse the towels, his plate of food was the first to be served. His rest time had to be respected by speaking in whispers, and if someone knocked down a door at his nap time, Irma would reprimand: “Hey, damn it, Félix is sleeping.” Meanwhile, my grandmother had to be treated with affection, because he did not allow mistreatment of her.

Each balanced her love for him with the attachment and distance that was already known between them. The old men settled matters without YouTube tutorials or emotional coaches. Behind closed doors, never in front of children.

Loving is also an art.

Although my grandfather was not my grandfather, because the blood that runs through me has an Argentine background, I knew love through his actions towards the old woman. Of course, I understand it now... when COVID-19 also kissed him and took him to another dimension where surely, Irma was his last and best thought before leaving.

I learned with him to love okra, forget-me-not... and not to knock down doors anymore. They didn't celebrate February 14th, but they didn't need to. Today she mourns her absence, and sometimes she dreams that he returns. When she feels hurt: “If Félix were alive…,” and the “mauve” color no longer encourages her like before.

In this kiss, she was entirely happy... we know it.