She was like sugar on peaches
Sunday, July 27, 2014 12:00 AM
Her obituary said she was a seamstress. To us, she was more like family.
Last Monday, a dear friend passed on. Her name was Aurea “Caridad” Capdevila. In our family, we called her Mima.
Mima was a nanny to my daughter, Charley, in the earliest years of Charley’s life. In fact, most of Charley’s earliest memories involve her sweet Mima.
On Monday, Mima succumbed to that awful disease, cancer. Things seemed to go downhill quickly at the end and, like many, she lived her last days under the care of the good folks at Hospice House. Caridad was 77.
When my wife, Christina, was pregnant with our daughter back in 2008, there was a great deal of hand-wringing about who was going to keep our baby girl once Christina’s maternity leave was done and she had to go back to work.
This is not uncommon. In fact, hand-wringing about day care is quite regular in many households where both parents maintain careers. It’s a very important decision. You want to have peace of mind while you are at work that your child is with someone who is responsible, caring and capable.
As we were looking for someone to babysit Charley during the week, my wife tapped into that secret underground network of mothers out there. You know, the group of ladies that swap info about babysitters, doctors, recipes, home remedies, church gossip, careers and so on. This network of mothers is kind of like the Illuminati, but with more Lilly Pulitzer.
As she sought advice about babysitters, my wife eventually was referred to Caridad. As it turned out, she regularly watched young children at her home during the day. It was an informal deal, and she would only keep one or two children at a time. Her references were strong and her reputation was impeccable.
Christina went and met with her, then called me.
“I think we’ve found the one,” my wife said. “You need to go meet with her and tell me what you think. Oh, by the way, she’s Cuban.”
“Cuban?” I asked. “That’s interesting.”
“Just go meet her,” Christina said. “You’ll love her.”
So, the next day, I drove over to Calhoun Avenue, to an unassuming little apartment. That’s where I met the lady we would come to know, affectionately, as Mima.
SHE WAS, INDEED, a native of Cuba. Camaqüey, Cuba, to be exact. She had a distinct accent and would sometimes slip back and forth between English and Spanish. I immediately took a liking to her.
She had short, curly hair and a round face. Her eyes twinkled. She reminded me of my grandma, my dad’s mother. Upon meeting her, I immediately felt at ease.
We made a handshake deal, and that was it. She would take care of Charley for us while we were at work.
It was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
It’s one thing to have someone watch your child for you in a responsible manner. It’s another thing entirely when that person falls in love with your child. Mima loved Charley like one of her own. Charley loved her right back. When Charley started talking, it was “Mima this” and “Mima that” all the time. That was OK with us. We were glad Charley could be with someone who made her happy every day.
Having Charley stay with Mima wasn’t a New Age, hippie dippie parenthood kind of deal. She was an old school lady from Cuba. She did things the old fashioned way.
One day, when Charley was 2 or 3, we went to pick her up after work and Mima informed us Charley had done a great job eating peaches. In fact, she had eaten an entire bowl of sliced peaches. This surprised us greatly, as Charley typically hated peaches.
“Really, she ate a whole bowl of peaches? I can’t believe that,” I said.
“Oh, yes,” Mima said, in her Cuban accent. “I put lots of sugar on them and she ate them right up.”
Some of these New Age, hippie dippie parents would likely fall in the floor if the babysitter said she added a goodly amount of sugar to their child’s peaches. I’m from Abbeville, so I thought it was great.
If the kids Mima kept ever stepped too far out of line, she would give them a little light pop on the fanny. She called those little pops “pow pows.” That was another old school touch some parents might not like. I didn’t mind at all. Kids these days need a little “pow pow” every once in a while.
Until I read her recent obituary, I never knew Mima was a seamstress, at least not by trade. Though, I should have known it. Whenever Charley would have a little tear in a shirt or lose a button, Mima would inevitably fix it right up and send her home looking good as new.
Charley eventually started going to preschool and segued out of Mima’s every day care. Mima moved on to take care of other children.
Still, Christina would often take Charley by to visit Mima. Not often enough, though. Recently, Charley asked several times to go see Mima and we never found the time, for one reason or another.
Now, I desperately wish that we had made a point to go see her, one last time. She will be missed, dearly, by all the families she touched through the years.
Te vamos a extrañar, Mima.
Trainor is a contributing columnist for the Index-Journal. Contact him at ChrisTrainorSC@yahoo.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisTrainorSC. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.