I’m a middle school teacher. I’m teaching Language Arts this year, which I’m positively thrilled about. In all of my classes, we start with a journal topic. As I take attendance and tie up loose ends, the kids are at their desks responding to the journal topic. The topic varies, of course, from day to day. Last week I had a journal topic up for them, which was courtesy of my friend 🙂 and department head, which inspired me to join the kids and write my personal response. Here is the topic along with my response.
I’ve heard amazing stories from my grandmother, Abuela Pachy. Actually, her real name is America. When she was born, her father named her after, “El mejor país del mundo – Los estados unidos de America.” If I could visit any place in the world during any time period, I would visit Cuba in the 1930s. Specifically, I’d visit Puerto Padre, the small, sleepy beach town where my grandparents grew up next door to each other and fell in love. My grandfather was eight years older than my grandmother. He fell in love with her when she was just a girl of 14. My great-grandfather, Puerto Padre’s only attorney, adamantly told her, “You must finish school before you start after any matters of the heart. He’s a nice boy, but he’s too old for you. Besides, focus on school.”
Some kids always obey their parents, and some kids always disobey them. My grandmother fell somewhere in the middle, which is to say she didn’t exactly obey one-hundred percent of the time. To illustrate, girls were not to ride bicycles back in those days, but she would steal one of her two older brothers’ bikes – Ramiro or Victor – when her dad was working in his office and her mom was toiling away at the kitchen stove. But when her father said, “No boys allowed,” even she knew it was best to obey.
Years went by, and finally! She felt it was time to ask again. Besides, her cousin told her she’d better hurry because there was talk around the town that he was engaged to another woman. “Ponte la pilas!” her cousin warned her. My grandmother couldn’t believe it! She was already in her early 20s and dared to ask her father. He acquiesced. They were engaged almost immediately, my grandfather had proved himself to my great-grandfather through all the years. My grandmother was the girl my grandfather had been waiting for his entire life.
The wedding was beautiful, as I’ve learned through plenty 8×10 black and white photos. I rifle through my grandparents’ closet and look at the white photo albums they’re carefully stored in, my organized and clever Aunt Lissette’s idea. I always select the album that contains their wedding pictures. I sigh in contentment whenever I see true love exists.
My grandfather passed away in December 2008. But I can still feel the love my grandmother has for him, even now that he’s no longer with us, when she so much as talks of him and the way he was. In her heart, she’s still the bold young girl, brimming with bravado, pedaling as fast as her stick-thin legs could take her, racing past his house to see if she could just catch a glimpse of him and his sky-colored eyes. The eyes that contained a whole world of love…just for her.
Author’s note: Originally posted on my retired blogspot on Sept. 17, 2009