My thoughts get lost in time, I can’t recall the last time I heard her voice. Just a week ago I found myself thinking of her when I was walking through a botanical garden, and the smell of gardenias hit me. I remember my grandma always got up at 6 in the morning. She would shower, then put on one of her brightest colored dresses. She would go to the right side of the house, water her plants, cut a gardenia flower and put it behind her left ear.
By 7 in the morning she was cooking breakfast for my grandpa. Fresh handmade tortillas and coffee in the kettle. I remember my grandpa liked his eggs scrambled well-done, and his black coffee plain, nothing in it. He would wake up at 7:30 and his breakfast would be ready. At 7:40 they would sit down and have breakfast together. By 8 in the morning my grandpa was leaving for the corn fields. This was an everyday routine. I would like to say that my grandma had big dreams, but she never really talked about them. She grew up in very hard times and was never permitted to study. She barely made it to middle school when her mother pulled her out and started to teach her the ways of a housewife. My grandma never really questioned her authority.
She got married at an early age and started a family; to be honest, I don’t have an idea of how many children she had. I only know 5 of them. While they were growing up, all the male children helped around the farm while the girls got the opportunity to go to school. Times were hard and this was my grandpa’s decision.
My mother met my father when she was 16 years old and ran away with him. The following year I was born. My mom and grandma never got along until I was born. There were misunderstandings between them; but that’s not what my story is about.
My house was right next to grandmas, and I grew up seeing her every day. As the years went by, we grew closer.It was the summer of 1999. I was sitting under the shade of a guaya tree, hungry, and my grandma knew. She went into her kitchen, and minutes later came back with a sandwich and a glass of orchata. I started eating as if I hadn't eaten anything in a whole month. It was simply delicious! She used real mayo. My mom never let me have real mayo, she thought it was too unhealthy. While I ate my sandwich, she started sweeping. She dragged my grandpa’s machetes to the corner, finished sweeping the front porch, and moved on to the patio. I was still watching her, when I heard a rattling above me, as if something was climbing in the tree. I looked up and there was nothing. I thought it was the wind. I kept watching my grandma sweep the patio, and once again I heard the rattling up in the tree. I looked up again, but there was nothing. I had almost finished my sandwich when, for a third time I heard the rattling up in the tree, but I paid no attention thinking it was just the wind. Out of nowhere, a large creature jumped in front of me. I felt my heart jump out of my chest and found myself crying for help, “abuelita… abuelita una iguana!”. She came running with the broom. She saw the iguana and quickly smacked it on the head. She continued hitting it and didn’t stop; (smack, smack, smack, smack, smack,) leaving the iguana stumbling and confused. My grandma, taking advantage of this, acted fast and grabbed the machete. She headed straight for the iguana.
That afternoon our family was eating iguana soup. My grandma was a very resourceful lady. I didn’t try the soup, I was still too scared. According to my cousin, it tasted “just like chicken”. Since that summer, my grandma became my hero. She was misunderstood by various people, she wasn’t the friendly, caring little old lady that others expected. But they would not define her.