From Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul

Abuelita, Abuelita . . .

If each of my words were a drop of water, you would see through them and glimpse what I feel: gratitude . . .

Octavio Paz

Stirring the arroz con habichuelas,
She’s cooking on the stove.
The fragrant smell of the
Different spices blending,
The smoke rising from the olla
The golden beauty of age
Radiating from her face,
Her wrinkled hands reaching
For the sazón so she can feed
The family she still takes care of.
Straight from the isla del encanto
She came,
Ready to make a better life for her family
In the “land of the free.”
Never taking into account

That she was in a strange
Land where she didn’t even
Know the language.
Working in a box factory
For practically nothing
When she couldn’t
Even say “box” in English.

Abuelita, Abuelita,
Bringing her sons over from
The only home she knew,
Working hard to pay the bills
Too hard to play with her kids
Because she came home
Tired at night.
Never taking a day off,
Never late,
Not being able to help them
With their homework because
All she knew was where to sign
For the rent check.
Trying to get ahead in life
To make a life for her children,
Struggling every day
To make ends meet
And still keeping the rhythm
In her soul and in her heels to
Clear any salsa dance floor.
Never once did she pat herself
On the back for a job well done.

But it was Abuelita, Abuelita,
In her golden years,
Hanging in her neighborhood
In the South Bronx on 172nd and Walton Avenue,
Jugando sus números en la bodega
De la esquina o bochinchando
Con sus amiguitas,
Getting pleasure out of
The simpler things in life
Like visiting her sons
Or being brought a piece
Of pastel de guayaba,
Never once thinking
“Damn, I’m bad!”

Abuelita, Abuelita . . .
Taking two buses to
My house every week,
Never once complaining about the ride
So she can cook to make sure
Her granddaughter eats well.
The swiftness of her hands as
She puts the food together reflecting
Her years and years of experience.

Abuelita, Abuelita,
I wish you could stay with me forever,
Showing me you love me through the
Flower of the food and the little
Consejitos you give me when you
See that life is hitting me
A little too hard.
Mi segunda madre,
Giving a new meaning to the
Word grandmother, but I’d
Rather call you Abuelita
than grandma.

Trajiste la pasión de la
Isla del encanto contigo,
Y me has enseñado más fuerza
Que nadie en esta vida.
Te quiero muchísimo, abuelita.

Lauren Perez

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