Querida mi abuelita,
Today is your 90th birthday! There is so much to celebrate! There are really no words to describe what an amazing life you’ve had and the memories you have shared and given to your family and friends.
It is an honor to be your granddaughter and I want to take a moment to stop, remember and thank you for the love, memories and all that you’ve taught me over the years.
First, thank you grandma, for opening your home to us – all the time! I think of countless hours spent with my cousins at your house. We played. We laughed. We fought. We broke windows. We went to the park. We explored. We made friends. We learned to stand up for one another. We learned what being together as family means.
On weekends, we would lay our sleeping bags on the floor while you and grandpa went to Las Palmas to dance. We would watch grandpa light up when his music would start to play. We learned so much about what it means to be Mexican and to love our background simply from walking into your home.
Walking into your house, we were sure to find you in the kitchen. Grandma, you are an amazing cook! That time in your life is now passed but we will never forget the thousands of tortillas you prepared for us – each perfectly rolled first into a ball and then flattened and fried on the stovetop. Being with you in the kitchen was filled with conversation and laughter. And we learned to enjoy great tasting food!
Some of my personal favorite foods you prepared are sopa, rice pudding, sopapillas, and enchiladas. Watching you use the pestle and mortar to make chilé is a beautiful movie that plays in my head. Fighting over who was going to get the white bowl with the little handle that you used to prepare the egg to top off the rice pudding remains with me. We all wanted to be the special one to receive the bowl and the rice pudding always tasted that much better when served in that bowl. You made sure we each got a turn.
Grandma, you have always been such a hard worker! I loved going down to the laundry room with you while you worked the washing machine. I would just talk and talk to you as you put each piece of laundry through the wringer. You could make a stained up coat look brand new. You taught me how to dust and sweep. I loved getting to stand at your side to do dishes. You would wash and I would dry. But more than that, we could just listen to one another talk about the mundane details of our days.
You sewed for us. You would sit in the living room at your sewing machine and with precision you’d mend garments. You’d make garments. You always make it look so easy. You are such a gift.
You always have a smile and story to share. There are way too many to share in one place, but I will share a couple of my favorites. There was the time that we cousins were not responding to you when you called us in from outside. You marched to Webster playground and brought us all home. And then there was the time when you were put into a squad car and you just jumped right out the other side. Nobody was going to stop you! That’s you grandma: full of life! Full of fun! Full of vigor!
I thank you, grandma, for all of these memories and more. Through your life and by spending time with me, you taught me to love, to be honest, to be genuine, and to appreciate all things. Those are definitely big things to learn. With 8 kids and 18 grandkids you have taught us more than we could have imagined. And we are so grateful.
One of the biggest and best things you taught me is to be proud. As you know, and I am sure that all my uncles, aunts and cousins remember all to well, I had a nickname as a young girl. You were the one who told me, “You don’t have to let them call you that. Your name is Elena. They should call you by your name.” And from that day on, I released by nickname and took even more pride in our name. It belongs to both of us: Elena. And I couldn’t be prouder to share a name with someone as dynamic and amazing as you.
Feliz Cumpleaños, abuelita. !Noventa nunca he parecido tan buena!
Con todo mi amor,