Gracias a mi abuela

When I first thought about what I’d say about my trip to Miami, I thought I’d write about eating Cuban food, speaking Spanish with a thick American accent and a shy, embarrassed smile, and feeling at home despite the fact that it seemed as if I were in an entirely different world – even though I hadn’t stepped foot out of the country. And while these feelings ring true, I’ve decided to spare the intricate details of my trip, and only provide you with the core of what Miami – and the memory of my grandmother who recently passed away after 86 rich years of life – means to me. Below is the English translation of the eulogy my sister and I presented at her funeral mass (which doesn’t translate exactly, but I have done my best. For the original Spanish version, scroll below:

English translation:

Excuse me for my imperfect Spanish and my strong American accent – Spanish is not my native language. And although it is not my language, I chose to speak in Spanish today because it is the language of my grandmother, and it is not possible to think nor to speak about my grandmother with the same sentiment in English. And so, I continue. For this day, my sister and I have prepared some thoughts for you about our grandmother.

When I was a very little girl, I used to visit an exotic island, and on these trips, there existed many distinct things. There were plantains in the patio y stained glass windows in the house and rice with chicken in the kitchen. There was foreign art on the walls and coffee every hour of the day in our hands and shoes – many shoes – in the closet. More than the beauty of the beach and the sea and the rainforest, I remember these aspects – the memories of my grandmother.

I remember her voice. The voice of a woman who used to sing in a language more beautiful than my own. I remember the moments in the bathtub when I was a little girl and she would sing to me and I would not understand the words, but I’d understand the sentiment – a feeling of happiness, of love, and of pride.

When I think of my grandmother, I think of this pride. She had pride for every person in her life. For me, for my sister, for my mom, for my aunt and uncle, for my cousin, for my grandfather, and for many more. She had pride for her culture – for being Cuban. And at the same time, she had pride for her adopted country – pride for being Puerto Rican and also American. It is ironic – the pride that she had for all when she is the person who deserve such pride.

When I think of my grandmother, I reflect on the intense pride that I have for her. I think of the woman that left her homeland for an unknown world, for a foreign country and for the possibility of a better future for her descendants. It is because of her, her bravery, that I live a free life. Because of her, I go to college and I have a bright future in a country in which it is possible to be successful as both a woman and as a Cuban American. Because of her, I live the American dream.

My grandmother was many people: a grandmother, a mother, a wife, an aunt, a daughter, a granddaughter. She had a life before me and her life will continue after me. The life of my grandmother is an inspiration for all. There are many sad emotions today, but there are also happy feelings regarding the precious memories and the celebration of the spectacular life of my grandmother. I have confidence that she is watching us from heaven today with a smile on her face and an “oh, how pretty” for the people who she lived her life for.

Thank you to all and thank you to my grandmother above.

The Original/el original:

Perdóname por mi español imperfecto y me acento americano fuerte – el español no es mi lengua nativa. Y aunque no es mi lengua, elegí hablar en español hoy porque es la lengua de mi abuela, mi “mom” y no es posible pensar ni hablar de mi abuela con el mismo sentimiento en inglés. Así que, continuo. Por este día, mi hermana y yo tenemos algunos pensamientos sobre nuestra “mom.”

Cuando era niña muy pequeña, visitaba una isla exótica, y en esos viajes, existían muchas cosas indistintas. Era plátanos en el patio y vitrales en la casa y arroz con pollo en la cocina. Había artes extraños en las paredes y café en todas las horas en nuestras manos y zapatos – muchos zapatos – en el clóset. Más que la belleza de la playa y el mar y la selva, recuerdo esos aspectos, los recuerdos de mi abuela.

Recuerdo su voz. La voz de una mujer que cantaba en una lengua más bonita que mi propia. Recuerdo los momentos en la ducha cuando era niña pequeña y ella me cantaba y yo no entendía las palabras, pero entendía el sentimiento – un sentimiento de feliz, de amor, y de orgullo.

Cuando pienso en mi abuela, pienso en ese orgullo. Ella tenía orgullo por todas las personas de su vida. Por mí, por mi hermana, por mi mamá, por mis tíos, por mi primo, por mi abuelo, y por muchos más. Ella tenía orgullo por su cultura – por ser cubana. Y al mismo tiempo, ella tenía orgullo por su país adoptado – orgullo por ser puertorriqueña y también americana. Es irónico – el orgullo que ella tenía por los otros cuando ella es la persona que merece el orgullo.

Cuando pienso en mi abuela, reflejo en el orgullo intenso que tengo para ella. Pienso en una mujer que se marchó de su casa para un mundo no conocido, para un país extraño y para la posibilidad de un futuro mejor para sus descendientes. Es por ella, por su valentía, que vivo una vida libre. Por ella, estudio en la universidad y tengo un futuro brillante en un país en que es posible tener éxito como una mujer y una americana-cubana. Por ella, vivo el sueño americano.

Mi abuela era muchas personas: una abuela, una madre, una esposa, una tía, una hija, una nieta. Ella tenía una vida antes de mí y su vida continuará después de mí. La vida de nuestra abuela es una inspiración para todos. Hay muchas emociones tristes hoy, pero también hay sentimientos felices en los recuerdos preciosos y la celebración de la vida espectacular de mi abuela. Tengo confidencia que ella mira del cielo a nosotros hoy con una sonrisa y un “hay que linda” para las personas para que vivía su vida.

Gracias a todos y gracias a mi abuela arriba.

xoxo,
jmd

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2 thoughts on “Gracias a mi abuela

  1. Mom says:

    Mom/abuela fell in love with both of you the moment she met you. You both, along with Luis Alfredo were her greatest joys. I will be thankful for this moment as it was the most beautiful xo

    Like

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