It was a summer day and my grandma had me watching television with her in the living room because it was too hot to play outside. Even though I was inside I still felt sticky because she had a swamp cooler but it was fresher than being outside. I was watching “I Love Lucy”, her favorite show. I was only about five years old and I would get excited to hear the opening music for the show because I knew that was our bonding time. There was only a sofa in the living room and she already had her designated spot. I would have to sit on the opposite end of the sofa with her.
I saw her suddenly walk up to the window that faces the street. She looked out the window and then looks at me. It looked like she had seen a ghost. She walks to me and whispers in my ear to go hide under the dinning table and to stay quiet. I asked why because I was a kid and she just gives me the stare to not question her.
I slowly get up and struggle to get under the table because of the chairs that were in the way. I managed to smuggle myself in between the chairs and find a small space in the middle. The table had a white table clothe that was see through. I was able to see my grandma’s legs by the window that faces the driveway now. The dining table was right next to it. I figured she was peaking through the window because I could see the curtains move. The curtains were very long so I could see the left side move when she was standing next to the window. I was curious, why was she standing there for so long? Why did she make me hide under the table?
I saw her legs walk slowly to the living room window and I was able to see her peak through that front window again. Why was my grandma acting so strange? She kept walking back and forth from living room to dining room, as if she didn’t know where to go. I was curious and I wanted to peak through the window. What was making her so anxious? I noticed that she slowly started walking towards the restroom and I got the idea of getting out of the table to go see before she got out of the restroom. I began to crawl out of the table as she walked away. I needed to see what was happening.
I pushed one of the chairs by the window that faces the driveway and I got out. I was sweating since I was nervous because I didn’t want her to catch me looking. I slowly open the left side of the curtain to peak and I see a bunch of men in uniform walking to my house. I lived with my mom and dad in the back house.
I kept looking at them and it was more than a dozen men walking to my house with their guns drawn. I froze. My mom was in the back house and they were going towards her. I remember I suddenly started crying. I was in danger, where they coming for me too? I was so zoned out looking at them that I forgot about my grandma catching me. I couldn’t stop crying, I just remember feeling my grandma’s cold hands over my mouth and her whispering to stay quiet. I was scared for my mom. Who were these men?
My grandma let me see what was happening but she begged me to stop crying or else I would have to go under the table. I tried to hold my tears in but it was hard, I was so scared. Suddenly I see all my uncle, my aunt and my visitors walking from my house towards the street. They were all in one single line with their hands to their back. They were surrounded by these men in uniform but no longer had their guns drawn. I never saw my mom pass by, where was she?
It’s a blurr about what happenned to me next, I just remember waking up in another house in Mexico. My mom was with me and I was so happy that she was safe but she never told me what happened to my uncle and aunt and our visitors. I remember always being at my grandmas house, which was the front house. I wasn’t allowed to hangout in my house during the day time, I would just sleep in my house. I recall that we had about 10-15 visitors everyday in the house that slept in the living room. But they would only sleep there for a night or two. I remember handing out dinner plates to them and they were very nice to me. They didn’t speak any English so I couldn’t really communicate with them.
Some of my visitors where young girls. They would do my hair in braids and we would take pictures together. They were never allowed to come out of the house unless they were leaving. Once they left with my uncle, they would never come back but a new person would come. My mom would tell me that they were our visitors and they were soon going to their home so we needed to take care of them.
So going back to my mom, she took me to this 2 bedroom single story house in Mexico. She told me that this was my new home. I was so confused, what happened to our other house but I was too scared to ask. I just remember being happy that she was here with me. Then she tells me that she has a surprise, that we have to go pick up someone special. I got super excited to go with her. We get to this place and then my mom picks up this lady and we head back home. We went back to the house that didn’t have any furniture, it was empty and cold inside. My mom tried to tell me that this was my grandma. The lady we just picked up was not my grandma. I think my mom is playing tricks with me, “She is not my grandma”, I tell her. I start arguing with my mom that she is not my grandma. My grandma has pale white skin and short waivy brunette hair. This lady is dark skin and has black long hair, they are complete opposite.
My mom became upset with me that I was being rude. I tried to talk to this fake grandma and she was talking to me in a weird language. My mom just gave me a hug and kissed me goodbye. My mom left me with this stranger, how can she do this to me? I started crying and running after her. I just recall feeling someone holding me back while I tried to unlock the front wood door. I wanted to go with my mom. I was crying for hours and I fell asleep crying.
I woke up the next day extremely hungry since I didn’t eat much the day before. I asked this fake grandma for breakfast and she didnt understand what I was asking for so I had to point to things to make her understand my needs.
Months past and I became very ill. I think I became heart broken. Who abandones their child with a fake grandma? Where was my grandma? I missed my family. I couldn’t eat and I was very sad all the time. By this time, the house was fully furnished and I had a room full of so many toys to play with, but none of them were making me happy.
It’s my birthday now and my mom shows up. I was extremely excited to see her again but at the same time angry. I was mad at her for leaving me here and I begged her to take me to my real grandma. Apparently she knew that I needed my grandma so that was my gift. She asked me to go outside because she had a surprise. I ran outside and there she was. My real grandma! I hugged her and kissed her and tried to hold her tight, I didn’t want to let her go.
She told me that she missed me so much that she had to come and visit me. I felt so special that my grandma came to my birthday. She explained that I was safer here because if not those men would take me away. I agreed with her and told her that I loved her so much.
I felt like I was re born. She gave me hope that I was not abandoned, it was for my safety. By this time, I began to trust my second grandma. I started calling her, “Abueli”. In Spanish, the word grandma is translated to “Abuela”. Due to me trying to learn the language I got stuck saying, “Abueli”. Even though we couldn’t understand each other because she spoke only Spanish and I spoke only English, we were understanding each other’s needs.
A year had past, and it was time to go school now. I had to wear a navy blue dress everyday. By then, because I was surrounded by people that would only speak Spanish, I understood it and spoke it. Little did I know, that I lost my English. No one spoke English, so I lost it. If you don’t use it, you lose it. That saying it so true is so many ways. I understood English, but I couldn’t verbalize it anymore.
I realized now that my mom never left me with a stranger. This was her mom that had just came from El Salvador. So technically, she was my grandma but I didn’t know that we could have two grandma’s since I had never met her before. I only lived for about a year and a half in Mexico. I came back to live in California but now with my “Abueli”. I would visit my grandma on the weekends and Christmas breaks.
My white grandma was diagnosed with cancer when I was twelve years old. She was just given two weeks to live. My grandma didn’t want to die in the hospital so my mom and my “Abueli” took of her in our home. Even though my mom had divorced my dad when I was younger, my mom still cared for her. She lived with me for her last days of her life. I remember feeding her ice cream and spending time with her everyday until the end. I will remember all those times I was with her, no one will be able to take them away.
But my “Abueli” has earned her spot in my heart. She took care her of my grandma while I would go to school. She would feed her, shower her and comfort her. My “Abueli” still lives and she is an amazing grandma. My kids have been lucky to have their great grandma with them and they continue to make memories with her. Any chance I get, I go and take her out for breakfast because she needs be pampered now. Everyone should cherish their grandma’s because they are our angels in real life.