During my visits, we had tea at her favorite café, walked around the city neighborhood, or went to Flora’s church, which was a few blocks away. I helped her with practical things and accompanied her to her doctor visits. One afternoon, we were shopping for a CD player.
Flora loves music and wanted to play the new recording I’d given her. It was a CD of the “Misa Criolla,” a haunting piece of choral music from Argentina performed by Mercedes Sosa, one of South America’s greatest singers.
Flora first heard the Misa Criolla in the 1970s—Mom had given her the record, and we all loved it. When I saw the CD for sale, I had to purchase it for Flora and hear the music again myself. Because Flora’s CD player was broken, we decided to shop for a new one in an electronics store nearby. We entered and were surrounded by gleaming metal cabinets lined with digital clocks and cameras. The sales staff, mostly young Latino men, were standing around waiting for the next customer.
One man greeted us. He showed us several players and explained to Flora in Spanish the differences between them. Flora is tiny. Sometimes, people look at her quizzically. She asked the salesman lots of questions and talked very fast. She wasn’t sure which player to choose. He was getting impatient, and his annoyance made me self-conscious. I had the impulse to stop her and pick out a model myself, but I didn’t.
Then, as Flora chatted to the salesman, I noticed something unusual. He was curious. It seemed to be an interesting experience for him. I relaxed. Gradually, the atmosphere in the store changed. There was a feeling of light sweetness. Everything outside—the cars, the taxis, and the people walking by—dissolved into the background. Flora
laughed with delight as the salesman packed up the CD player she’d chosen. We paid him and said good-bye.
As we walked out the door, Flora turned to the young man and said something in Spanish. She was facing away from me, so I couldn’t hear what it was. But when I turned to look, the man stood easefully. He was smiling and appeared young, like a boy, and free. Spending time with Flora made me less self-conscious. The sweetness was changing me, just as it changed the young man in the electronics store.