Dora, by Valerie Lopez

             As time goes by, we think about the people who made a difference in our lives and the impact they made. To me, that person was my grandma Dora. My abuela was one of the most beautiful, caring, and witty woman I knew.

 She had short, wavy, salt and pepper hair that was always brushed back behind her ears. Her eyes were like pools of blue that were inviting and tempting to swim in. When I looked into them, I felt like I was looking into the depth of her soul. Her skin was of a milky white complexion that glowed as if she was still in her youth. Abuela stood 5 feet 4 inches tall, but this woman was always slouched so she didn’t seem that height. She rarely eversmiled but when she did, she would always give you a half crested one that lit up your heart with joy.  

            My grandmother was born on July 11, 1919 in Lockhart, Texas and for 25 years she worked as a nurse. She was married twice and had 12 children while living in San Antonio, Texas. She then moved to Milwaukee shortly after my grandpa died. She was 55 years old when my Grandpa Miguel unexpectedly died of a heart attack. She ended up moving in with my aunt Tere, who was already established in Milwaukee, and lived with her till the day she passed away.

Even though my grandma didn’t have a lot of money, she would always assist others in need. Once, when I was 8 years old, she made a blanket for a homeless lady living on the streets. As she gave the quilt to the vagrant woman, I quietly whispered to my grandma, “Abuela why did you make that lady a blanket?”

My grandmother then stated, “Mija because I am sure at night she feels the bitter cold crawl through her lightly clothed body.”

One of my fondest memories of my grandmother occurred when I was 10 years old. I had spent the night at her house and awoke the next morning to the smell of oven baked fries swiveling in the air and to the sound of eggs sizzling on the stove. She loved to make me this dish every time I slept over her house. Till this day when I make this dish, it reminds me of the aroma that filled her house early on Sunday mornings.

Although my grandma did not give off a welcoming vibe to those who she would meet, she would always show me affection. She kept to herself and really didn’t show affection to those around her. When someone tried to hug her she would push him or her off and tell that person she doesn’t like to hug. However my abuela would always hug me, and tell me she loved me. My mother and I lived with her the first two years of my life. My father left before I was even born. My mom then moved in with her mother, my abuela. I believe that my grandma and I shared a special bond from this experience. Consequently perhaps that’s why she favored me and let me embrace her and who she was. 

                        My grandmother would like to whistle while she cleaned, or she would hum a tune in her head. She also loved to swear in Spanish but never meant it in an uncaring way.  My grandmother just liked to use vulgar language at times, maybe to express some frustration she had bottled up inside. These were just her special mannerisms that made her who she was. This little feisty firecracker always knew how to make the people around her laugh. Because it was unexpected at times when she would use bad words in Spanish to talk to someone, but we knew it was her way of socializing with people.

When I was 11-years-old my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s, a crippling disease that takes control of your mind. She ended up dying just four years after she was diagnosed with this illness after complications from a stroke. Even on her deathbed, she worried about my mother, who at the time was a single parent of 8 children. My aunt Tere promised her that she would be there for her sister so my grandma wouldn’t worry. Later that evening, my abuela had finally let go. She passed away in her sleep knowing that my mom was going to be taken care of.

 In conclusion, this woman who I called my grandma marked my life in a positive way. She taught me to always treat others as you would want to be treated. And she valued family because it was important to her and I also value family in my life. Her words are very significant in my life and her values are also very important to me. I continuously practice them in life.  I never appreciated her words of wisdom when I was younger. Now as an adult and mother, I have come to understand them, and for that I am grateful. Her acts of kindness and nurturing ways demonstrated to me how to be a humble person. She is the kind of woman I strive to be, the woman I called my abuela.  



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