"Listen to the words that others can't speak; speak the words that others can't hear."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Grandparents and such.

     I've come to realize that I tend to talk a lot about my mother's side of the family and forget to mention my father's half. I've never put much thought to why that is, but I think it's just because they say that grandkids are usually more attracted to the mother's parents than the father's... No offense to all father's or father's parents out there. ;)
My father's shoes and bracelet- 1-2 yrs. old. Spain. 
     My grandparents are Cuban born and raised. My grandmother was a stay at home mom of 3 boys (the fourth was born in Puerto Rico, I believe) and my grandfather was a bank owner. When Fidel Castro came to power and had all banks closed and taken over by the government my grandfather was allowing people to empty out their accounts and hide money at home or elsewhere; needless to say, as soon as Castro found out, Abuelo was taken as political prisoner and my grandmother was given a one and only chance to leave the island with the three kids. They were forced to leave on the same ship as the Catholic priests making their way to Spain. 
     As soon as my grandfather was let go, warned never to return again, he met up with the family in Oviedo, Spain and together they decided to start anew in Puerto Rico. 
     Welcoming them to what would soon be their new paradise and home was Teté, a woman who I don't know much about other than the fact that she's been there for them since 1962 and she was my uncle's Godmother. 
     I really didn't want to make this story too long but I feel like it's worthy background information. Long story short, they worked with the CIA (no joke, ask me in person!), had their youngest son, bought a house, bought a beach house, helped get people out of Cuba, retired, moved into their beach house, lived happily for several decades and have just moved to Houston. My dad and I visited them last Thursday. 

The Drive
     I always dread long drives not just because they're long and boring, but they tend to get awkward and I have a really bad habit of falling asleep at the wheel... Yeahhh, something I should work on! Anyways, as soon as  I turned on the car and sports radio came on I knew it was going to be a horrible ride. I didn't get to take my car, we were leaving in the middle of rush hour, and sports radio was on... I mean, really?! To my surprise, my dad turned off the radio completely and just sat quietly. After a little while we were talking and not once did we turn on the radio during the whole four hour drive. In fact, the only time we turned the radio on was during the last 45 minutes on the drive back, and by then I think we were both talked out! 

St. Dominic's Village
     My grandparents are staying at a place right across Medical City of Houston called St. Dominic's Village. It's in the same place that the Diocese of Houston is and as horrible as this sounds, because I'm warning you right now that it sounds REALLY bad, it's like my sister says: "They're staying at a place where all the priests go when they think they're ready to die". There's a Nursing home in one building, Independent Living (where they're at) on the first two floors of their building and Assisted Living on the top three. The place has a nice souvenir shop and a dining area as well as a chapel but to me it all smells like hospital and I can't help but feel a knot in my throat as I walk those halls. Their "apartment" is more like a hotel room, with a mini fridge and a bathroom no bigger than an airplane lavatory (okay, maybe a little bigger)...

Are they happy?!
     They seemed ecstatic to see us! My grandma immediately started pulling stickers and magnets out of her drawers to give me as a late Christmas present and my grandpa was showing my dad his new TV and how their names show up since they're new to the building. It wasn't long before I realized that I had gotten the same magnet three times and my grandpa was showing me the TV all over again, but I enjoyed just the same. We went and sat outside and talked and one thing that struck me was the way they kept repeating that everything they left in Puerto Rico was 50 years left behind and forgotten, that all that did not matter anymore..
     We sat quietly for a little while and then Abuelo turned to me and asked if I had seen the movie The Gardener. I told him that I hadn't and he explained that he loved it because it was about a man who was mentally retarded and all he knew was about gardening, so when people asked him anything he would answer the question as it pertained to gardening and everyone thought he was really wise. Both of my grandparents were practically rolling as he told me about this movie, I don't really get what was so humorous, but I can't help but giggle at the thought of their laughs, so silly. 
I wanted to see a monk while visiting St.Dominic's, Abuelo
made sure I saw one! 
     They then decided to introduce us to Tony the maintenance man who also has a granddaughter, but not one like me, "the most beautiful of them all," Abuelo says. 

The Bad News
     They received the bad news on Thursday evening that Teté, the woman that had got them settled in to their new home in Puerto Rico had passed away less than one week after they left that place that they will forever call home. I still don't know who that is but even I wept for that woman because if it weren't for her only God knows where I'd be today. 

All in All
     I'm not one to decide if they made the right decision by moving here. I can say that in my opinion, the person that convinced them to move here will realize what they caused when that time comes and I hope they get what they deserve, but that's not up to me to decide and I only pray the best for them. I'm also not one to decide if they're happy. I know that watching my grandma open and close drawers as if she was looking for something new or simply to do was driving ME crazy, I can only imagine what it will do to her in a matter of time. With that being said, I also know that they were looking forward to the daily outings that St. Dominic's had to offer, such as King Tut's museum and Bingo nights. All in all I guess we'll just see how things go from here on out. They're safe, they're closer to us now, and the drive is not half as bad as I thought it was going to be. Since I want to be the one to write my grandfather's biography, I guess I better start planning some summer driving schedules for Tuesdays with Abuelo or something. :P 

"The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy."  
~Sam Levenson


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