Everyone probably thinks the world of their grandparents, that is if they are fortunate to have met them and even more fortunate to have amazingly caring and doting individuals for said grandparents. I know I am extremely grateful for having them and can only hope to be able to have them for quite some time more. I’m very close to my grandparents. To me, when I think of grandparents, I always think of my grandparents on my mother’s side; abuela/grandma is always my mother’s mother, Maria, and abuelo/grandfather is always my mother’s father, Antonio or To~o. [If I were to ever speak of my other grandparents (who are also living), I always specify their names. Like “Abuela Ivette” or “Abuelo Troche”.] My mother’s house is right next to their’s and it’s about 45 steps from our doorway to theirs (yes, I counted one day).
Its not unusual for us to take a cup of sugar or take an onion or some garlic, in order to finish up a recipe we’re cooking, from one another’s kitchens. In fact, whenever I spent the weekend in my hometown while studying in college, I considered “shopping for groceries” to be really taking some things from both my own house and my grandparents’ house. This was a source of much amusement in our family whenever I wandered with shopping bags and collected what I would need to keep myself fed in Mayaguez, but it was unheard of for me not to take anything. My grandmother would not let me leave unless she saw me take something, even if it was a can of tuna. She’d offer me everything and anything I could want from her shelves. She’d prepare extra food on the weekends so I could take leftovers. Even my grandfather, to some a rather oblivious person, would notice if I had not done my rounds and would express concern over it.
With my grandma, as a typical Puerto Rican lady, any visit to her house will have you being fed to within an inch of your life. You’d walk away with a trimming from her flowers and some extra fruit or viandas. At 75, she doesn’t seem to be slowing down much. Her memory shorts out but that, I’m told, is something she’s had always. My grandfather, at the age of 83, is supposed to be the one with potential memory problems due to his artery blockages that limited the blood that got to his brain for many years. His absent-minded nature is oh-so very intentional. I find them rather amusing. My grandfather will definitely seem oblivious to my grandma’s presence, but will miss her if she’s not around. My grandma will complain about my grandfather but she will not go anywhere without him. For many years they had slept in separate bedrooms but a couple years ago my grandfather was relegated to sharing the bedroom with my grandma and never returned to his own room. He won’t admit to it; however, he sleeps better when he’s closer to my grandmother.
I remember clearing out old pictures and finding one of my grandfather in uniform. He is a Korean War veteran, although my grandmother informs me that she never saw him in uniform. They met after his return. With a giggle she told me that it was his eyes which attracted her to him. He has the clearest blue-green eyes (a color I often lament not having inherited!) and was quite the hunk with his crisp black hair and moustache. My grandmother still finds him quite handsome. The other morning she was looking at him in the soft morning light and told him he was cute… He told her that the cats were cute, to go admire them and not him. That response is quite typical of my grandfather. He’s one of the jokester curmudgeons. The sort that you doubt has any attachment to anyone, and then surprises you with something, like how he had a framed picture of my older brother and I in his clunker of a jeep. Of course, my grandmother retorted by saying that she wished she was one of the cats because he at least petted them and gave them attention.
My grandparents have been married for well over 55years, its something like 57 years to be exact. They never talk much about their courtship, but I do know that they eloped. My grandmother packed up what little clothes she had and went off with him. The first house they rented was in an area of town called “El Tendal”. I remember asking my grandfather about 2 years ago why he married my grandma. He said that he hadn’t the faintest idea but that she tried to kill him early in their marriage. I don’t think I laughed so much at anything he’s said before. He said he meant it literally.
My grandmother hadn’t actually tried to kill him. She just made a VERY big mistake that will live in infamy in my grandfather’s memory. As the eldest of the girls, my grandmother was actually sent out to the fields to work and never learned the domestic arts. Learning to sew and craft came later, out of her own interest as an adult. Cooking was a matter of trial and error; the errors are what we laugh about now and inspired enough memories to begin the Calabaza Pela’ series. So when it came to making my grandfather his first cup of coffee as a married couple, she didn’t know the difference between salt and sugar. That I mean literally, as she heaped two spoonfuls of salt in his coffee mug. What that must have tasted like, only my grandfather knows. He thusly learned to keep everything labeled in the house.
Cafe- Recien Casados
Colar el cafe.
Sweeten to taste, but ensure that it’s sugar before filling the spoon.