Lessons Learned From My Abuelito
One sunny day on a boardwalk I told my abuelito I didn’t want to be a lawyer; I was thinking about becoming a teacher. He lit up and told me he was glad to hear it. “Ese es un trabajo perfecto para una mujer. Ser abogado es mas para un hombre.”
My senior year in high school, my abuelito would drive me to my part time job at a local pharmacy. I manned the register while getting my fix of the latest trashy novel. One afternoon we were getting ready to go and he stopped me in my tracks. “No puedes ir al trabajo en chancletas.” He was referring to my very cute flip flops. I laughed a bit and sent him into quite the tizzy. His Cuban temper flared which meant the giant vein in his neck was on the verge of bursting. Being his granddaughter and being as stubborn as him, I stood my ground and said I was. We went on for about a half hour before we left for my shift. I wore other shoes to work; I changed into my chancletas once I got to the pharmacy.
When I brought Dessa, and now Fararh, home from the hospital, one of the first things my abuelo said was, “No le pusieron arete en el hospital?” Followed by the story of how he opened the holes in my ears with a needle and thread when I was born. There’s something about earrings. The first time I left the house without a pair on, by accident, I think he thought I had slipped into depression or something.
Every Mother’s Day since I can remember, my abuelito has gotten me a little something – a card, a teddy bear, flowers. As a teenager, I thought it was silly. Now I adore him for it. He believes all women, young and old, with or without children, are mothers.
Growing up, we partied as a family dancing into the wee hours. Be it at a friend’s house or a hall, it was about having fun. To this day, my abuelito still has quite the social life for being 80 something. He believes in having fun, enjoying life.
My abuelo ordered me never to get a tatoo and forbid me to wear ankle bracelets. He never wanted me to work while I was in school; my grades were the most important thing. He was relieved my best friend’s boyfriend was going to join us on a senior trip to South Beach; three girls traveling alone made him nervous. He chaperoned my first date which happened to be in a group of about twelve teenagers.
I didn’t grow up with my father around; I had the joy of being raised by my abuelito. He had the task of spoiling me like a grandchild but also making sure I was a good little Cubanita. These are some of the lessons he taught me along the way. Some of his lessons I take to heart, others I hold as a funny memory knowing it’s hard for him to let go of his old fashioned ways.
Some women have a special relationship with their mothers. For me, it’s my abuelito. He’s the first man of my life. This Father’s Day it’s him I will be grateful for. Who will you celebrate this Father’s Day? Oh and if you have any idea why ankle bracelets would be off limits, let me know; he never did tell me why I couldn’t wear one.