The New M.E. Generation











{March 13, 2017}   Unauthorized Biography 2 – Total opposites

Spending time with my maternal grandparents was a good thing for me. In spite of my non-eating stage and occasional trips to the hospital, they still loved and accepted me for who I was. Maybe they went the extra mile for me because it was grandsons central.

They were also family-oriented and their marriage was an early lesson of what a good relationship could be. They also set the example that you may come from humble beginnings and still manage to achieve a comfortable life.

Most importantly, they were protecting my brother and me. They knew my parents’ marriage was on the rocks. I was too young then to label it as that, but I clearly remember seeing that my parents were never affectionate, nor expressed loving words towards each other (or the two of us), hold hands, or anything else, which was odd to me.

Then there were my paternal grandparents, the opposite of the others. My grandfather had married 3 times (widowed twice), being my grandmother the last wife. This relationship was probably more out of convenience of joining 2 prominent families together.

They didn’t sleep together in the same room and my grandfather wasn’t fond of women, including his spouse. He was definitely from the old school in which men didn’t display affection and ruled the home with authority.

My brother and I had to visit them (mainly for him) on Friday and Sunday afternoons. We would be dressed to the nines for every time (and if we weren’t, my dad would hear it), and as soon as we walked through the door, walked directly to my grandfather’s room where he would sit on his antique rocking chair and worked out of a desk. We would bow our head slightly, say “bendición” (bless us), and he would tap them.

He gave us both a weekly allowance; $3 for my brother, $2 for me. He would also fill a small metal container with spare change that, at least, we could divide equally. But the inequality on the first was proof that on that house, men came first.

As for my dad, he was the last child and second son out of 5 daughters. Although he was a male, my aunts in later years commented that he happened at a time that his parents were too old to be having kids; that he was pretty much on his own because the other siblings were out of the home already, meaning he basically raised himself. Anything here sounds familiar?

It’s sad to think how this affected him in his marriage. From where I was standing, his relationship with my mom, and that with his own father, looked confusing and scary. All he could was go with the flow, and probably hope that tomorrow would be a better day. Pretty much how I’ve dealt with everything myself.

Even with my aunts and uncle, I could see a distant relationship with my grandfather. As much as they wanted to be close to him, there was this coldness that separated them.

And what my grandmother could only do was just sit on the sidelines and watch it all happen. It must have been horrible marrying someone who probably treated you like crap and still had to give him children.

At least she channeled her affection on her children and grandchildren. She would play the piano, which introduced me to music. She also kept these Danish cookies in the fridge for me, which I would eat while sitting in a small rocking chair in the balcony and listening to her sing to me: “Arroz con leche se quiere casar, con una viudita de la capital. Que sepa tejer, que sepa bordar, que ponga la aguja en su campanal.”

I still remember being surrounded by the garden and the simplicity of those moments that you later take for granted.

There were also other memorable times, like my grandfather’s stories when he came to college in the U.S., and my father teaching me how to play hopscotch, among others.

Everything left a print within me, like recognizing that I still like to sit in a rocking chair and enjoy eating butter cookies from time to time.

Perhaps it’s recognizing that, in spite not understanding so many things, others did the best that they could; that I miss them sometimes and wished they would still be around; that even though we say that we will do things differently, we mirror them a lot more than we bargained for, not realizing it until our world is rocked to the core.

It’s learning to sit back and appreciate the good that’s in front of us; it’s enjoying that moment before we have to get up and go face the unknown.

It’s understanding that in spite that our lives have been difficult, there were those close to us that had it more complicated, who gave a lot of themselves in the hope of making ours better than what they had.

For better of worse, in the good and the bad, it is what it is: family.

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox

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