From Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul

Abuela’s Magic

My grandmother was one of the most influential people in my life. She moved in with us right after my grandfather died, and she lived with us from the time I was five years old. Every day when I got home from school, she was there to make my world magical. No matter what we were doing, she turned it into something bigger and brighter than it was.

Before my grandmother moved in with us, she lived in a little house in Wilmington, California. Behind her house was a shallow creek, dry usually, with a tiny wood bridge. When we visited, my grandmother would take my sister and me over that little bridge, which for anybody else was probably no big deal. But because there were no ordinary moments or events for my grandmother, she always got us ready for our walk by talking about our difficult “journey” over the bridge and about how we needed to pay close attention to every step we took. She praised us in advance and after our trip for our “courage” in walking over the dangerous deep creek, and she reminded us that by taking this daily journey we were preparing ourselves for life’s bigger challenges.

My sister and I grew up with the impression that we were extraordinarily brave for performing this death-defying act; we felt proud of ourselves and confident. Years later as adults, we had the chance to revisit the “deep creek” and the bridge, and we were amazed to see that it was really just a small puddle covered by an ornamental bridge. My grandmother had created another world for us through her storytelling and her imagination, a world much more intriguing than anything our daily lives offered us.

My grandmother loved to tell me stories about growing up in Puerto Rico, stories about her brothers and sisters and her mother. To her, psychic experiences were just part of everyday life. When her brother Tito died in Puerto Rico, his shadow appeared to her in New York as she sat sipping coffee at the kitchen table. When her first great-grandson was born, she said an angel had appeared blowing a trumpet, saying that the baby was a boy. She wrote down the time, and it was just minutes after my nephew John was born. Just before my grandfather died, she and my mother had identical dreams about him.

So when my adored grandmother died four years ago, I thought that in some way I would “hear” from her, but I never did. I had been trying to have children and had become pregnant several times, but miscarried each time. I had been receiving fertility treatments, and two years after my grandmother’s death I was in the process of taking treatment again. I came home from the doctor’s office one day and took a nap. While I was sleeping, I heard the phone ring. When I didn’t pick up the phone, the answering machine went on. It was my grandmother, and she was saying: “Hola, Chinita!” (“Chinita” was her nickname for me.) “I just called to tell you happy birthday; I love you.”

When I got up I remembered the dream, and then I thought how weird it was that my grandmother had mentioned my birthday because my birthday wasn’t near. The following week I went to the doctor, and they told me that I was pregnant. I was so happy, I couldn’t believe it. When I asked them my due date, they said October third.

October third is my birthday.

Michele Capriotti

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