This unapologetic cartel is secretly responsible for many cavities but also an abundance of genuine smiles on the faces of so many grandchildren.

We are lucky to have grandfathers and grandmothers.  What a truly magical time of our life it is when a new bundle of curiosity begins their journey, while the experienced one begins to face the dawn.  It seems so brief, such a fleeting moment, but it is exactly at this crossroad that life makes sense.  It is beautiful, meaningful, unconditional, and so full of uncomplicated simplicity.

Without a doubt there is a magical bond between children and their grandparents.

My bond is with Victoria or Babcia Wikcia.

What a beautiful and loving woman.  She managed to touch the very core of my being and imprint herself on my soul, but unfortunately I only have patchy and cloudy memories of the pastries and cookies that were available at a moments notice. 

(The cartel has strict ordinances regarding their product). 

I don't recall ever hearing the word no.  It doesn't seem possible but somehow there was always a solution.  There was never a problem.  Mistakes were always fixable, and those mistakes were always held in the strictest of confidence.

Babcia Wikcia sat among the men during special occasions, especially Christmas, and the men enjoyed sharing their vodka with her.  Not because she was an alcoholic who begged for a little swig, far from it.  I don't even think she ever drank.  The men enjoyed these moments because she did not judge them and simply longed for their laughter.  In the same way she shared her life with me, without the vodka of course.

When she died, my mother cried and remembered Victoria every Christmas eve.  It was a dependable moment.  For many years, I felt her sadness and tried what I could to relieve her sorrow.  Today, I don't do that anymore. 

Victoria is gone and Irena is gone.

Before they left however, they gave me the gift of understanding the value of tears.

Today, when I cry, I stand still, resting in the moment.  I have a new sense of understanding that tears bring us closeness.  A closeness that from day to day, moment to moment, is not available.  The treadmill of societal demands keeps us running and chasing.  Even though I keep the people I love in my thoughts, my mind is just a mildly tempered storage container, and the closeness I long for only comes with tears.  Those tears don't come often and like my mother, I anticipate them on special occasions.

Thank you for reading this public service announcement.

I propose a toast to tears and the candy cartel.

Long live the Cartel!