4 o’clock hour of the night

I always remember. We were little and my little sister was so sick that her little usual hyper self was motionless on the bed and Grandma paced back and forth, back and forth. It was so late that I didn’t recognize the hour. I never knew the night had so many numbers. How was it that the night had a three- o’clock? And my Grandma, my mama de crianza, paced and paced.


No money, no medicine.  She poured out the Agua Florida all over my little sister’s body down to her little toes and covered her up with the blanket.

Agua Florida is so cold.  It usually made me shiver.  But my little sister seemed not to feel the coldness of the Agua Florida.  Not even when Grandma...
got down to her little toes.  Swoooooop from my little sister’s hips, Grandma’s magical hands, carried the Agua Florida down my little sister’s legs, starting at her hips, down her thighs, to her knees, then ankles, then to the tips of her toes.


Now my little sister is all wrapped up and Grandma is pacing saying she had to wait till the 5 0’clock of the night.  The night having a 5 0’clock too was wonderous to me.  When did the night end? Was Grandmita gonna pace up and down till the night ended? Was my little sister gonna stay there still and sickly till the night ended?  I started thinking about 10 o’clock at night.  It should be after the 5 o’clock hour, no?  When does the night end?


I remember turning over in the twin size bed feeling so free because usually there was no room for me to do that. Usually I’d have stinky feet near my face.  She slept with her head one way and me the other way.  And Grandma slept in the same room in the biggest bed I ever imagined that a bed could be.  I couldn’t wait till I was a big person and get to have a big bed like Grandma’s.

Well today my little sis was in Grandma’s bed .  It’s usually a treat sleeping there, even just sitting there.  But not today.  She was real sick.

Next thing I remember, I don’t know where Grandma was going, but I heard the heavy metal pole unbolt the heavy metal door of our Bronx apartment and out the door she went.

When she came back, she held 2 tylenols in the palm of her hands.  She said thank God el bodeguero was there at the 4 o’clock hour of the night and that hopefully those 2 tylenols worked on my little sis. I wondered why she didn’t buy the whole little bottle of tylenol.

She held my little sis’ head up off the bed. As her little head rested on Grandma’s shoulders she took the 2 tylenols and Grandma made the sign of the cross on my little sister’s forehead and rocked back and forth and back and forth.

And I rocked back and forth and back and forth in my side of the twin bed. 

Back and forth and back and forth.

Sure felt empty, my little bed without my little sister.  I swore to myself that I would never complain about her stinky feet again.  They weren’t stinky anyway.  We just said that cuz Grandma used to grab our feet together and rub them on her nose and say CHICOTE!!! And we’d  laugh and laugh!!! CHICOTE!!!

I know I woke up and it was 8 o’clock in the day and I wonder how’d I’d miss 7 hours of the day.  And I peeked over towards Grandma’s big bed and my little sister rolled over. 

I jumped up and shouted “Grandma! Grandma!!! She’s up!  You did it! You did it!!!”

Grandma rushed in from the kitchen.  I can smell the fresh coffee coming thru from the kitchen thru the living room, past the beaded curtains into the bedroom.

Grandma walks in, looks at my little sister and smiles.  She slowly walks towards the bed and sits down, bends over and kisses the same spot on the my little sister’s forehead that she had made the sign of the cross at the 4 o’clock hour of the night.

I rolled on my tummy, buried my face in the bed and wrapped the old flat pillow over my head.

Grandma had saved the day.  Nothing new to start this day, so I might as well go back to sleep.


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