Emma – AKA Lita

Emma – AKA LITA – 83 years young.

I arrived promptly at 3:00 o’clock and Emma came out to open the door to the apartment complex for me. We had never met before, although we had a nice conversation over the phone a few days before that, where she asked me if she needed to wear make up for the shoot “I don’t ever wear it… but I can if you want  me to” I had asked to be herself, no make up, just the natural Emma. She laughed, and told me how happy that made her. She came out and welcomed me with the sweetest smile, and kissed me on the cheek as she kindly hugged me.  I handed her a bouquet of flowers I had gotten for her, and she was so excited that she kept smelling them all the way down the hallway on our way to her apartment.

“First thing is first”… as she got the flowers ready to be put on a base. Not even 5 minutes of me being there, she handed me a glass of guava juice and sat across from me on her chair while she told me what her daily routine is, and how happy she is with her life. 

Emma gets up everyday and goes for 3- 4 rounds around the neighborhood, she says it is a few miles. Then she dedicates some time to reading her favorite book, The Bible, and when done she takes care of the house, the market (to where he drives) and comes back to do some other stuff around the house “The day goes by so fast! Sometimes I go visit friends who are sick, or hospitalized, and by the time my son comes home for dinner the day has flown by!” Emma is what I call a SUPER ABUELA. She is the little vibrant energy ball, full of nothing but smiles, kindness, love, and incredible life stories that are accompanied by expressive hand gestures. 

I asked her to read to me parts of her favorite book, and she happily grabbed it and read it to me. I sat there on the floor, as I had been photographing her, and suddenly I felt like I was 6 gain, and back at home with my abuelita (who passed away this February) while she was reading a children’s story. We went on to exchanged a few life changing experiences that we had in common, and she genuinely listened, and kindly provided advice while she kept on smiling, even dating advice! In the meantime and after the two of us getting comfortable which each others presence , and my big wide angle lens, she sat there naturally while we chat the afternoon away, and I photographed her. I was so captivated by her sweetness and hoping to capture the essence of  her incredibly positive, vibrant, funny, and juvenile personality.

As we keep on talking and exchanging lots of Spanish Sayings Emma shares that she likes her independence at her home, taking care of herself and by herself, and meeting new people. She tells me that she enjoys spending time on her computer “I even have Facebook! And Skype!’  (I had to hold back the tears as she said that. My grandma was so much like her) “But, I only “LIKE” things on Facebook Sandra, I do not leave comments or send messages. Nobody has taught me how to, and I am afraid to leave something personal in public” 

It is Sunday, and one of her sons who works long hours everyday come over for dinner. “Well, Sundays I close my kitchen. Sundays we have cheff PANDA. Because I too need a break”

We talked for hours, and my evening flew by while being filled with smiles, hugs, and touching stories. I told her I had to go soon, but that before I did so I wanted to show her how to send private messages on Facebook, and to change her profile picture. She jumped out of her seat, and rushed to turn the computer on “Oh my! This is so exciting! I finally get to do this!” And so we sat there, and looked at her long list of Notifications, messages, and friend requests “Emma! You are one popular lady! Would you like to add this people?” She took a minute… “No, only the ones I really want to be in touch with, the rest just want to see what I am up to”

15 minutes later Emma had learnt how to set her profile picture to her “Fashionable” looking one, learnt the difference about notifications, friend requests, and comments and sent a private message to her grandkid Dino. “Ha!I wonder what the look on his face will be when he sees I have changed my profile picture, and send him a private message… Oh look! 2 people like my new profile pic!” ….. She smiled. I smiled.

I had to go, as I had been there for over 3 hours and needed to drive back home “A cup of tea before you go? …. How do you say no to such a sweet lady? So I sat there with her and enjoyed her company for half an hour more, and soaked up lot more interesting stories and Spanish sayings.

It was about that time, and she insisted to walk me outside. She grabbed her long keychain (one of those that have a long string that you can hang around your neck) “I forget things sometimes…If I don’t have them on this type of keychain, I would loose them all the time” So I took mine out, and showed her “Emma, we have the same keychain…. only mine says Ibiza Rocks, and yours I am pretty sure has the word God on it” She laughed. I laughed.

We hugged and kissed NOT goodbye, but Hasta Pronto.