One of my biggest regrets in life is never being able to fully communicate with my grandparents. My grandfather turned 91 last August, and my grandmother will be 85 in December (or at least according to the American government she will be). They emigrated here legally from Guadalajara, Mexico fifty plus years ago and still live in the same 2 bedroom house in Midtown Sacramento that has once been inhabited by my mom, her 7 sisters, and 3brothers.
When I was young Mama Oti and Papa Pepe were able to speak English. We could communicate a little but for some reason I don’t remember words being said. I remember my grandmother dancing in the living room twirling her long skirts and singing songs in Spanish. Sometimes my sister and I would put on my grandma’s reading glasses and run around the living room like little assholes because it looked like you were running right into the ground. My grandfather who made his living as a carpenter would make me and sometimes my cousin’s wooden swords out of thin pieces of plywood. His workshop always smelt of fresh wood and saw dust. My aunt whom I grew up next door to tried to teach my little ignorant ass to speak Spanish, but I was so clueless and young to even care about what negative effects of not being bilingual in the environment that I live in, and living with the regret I have now. What’s strange is I was there all the time. I grew up not far from my grandparents dwelling only a few blocks away in New Era Park. But I honestly can’t remember making an effort to communicate with my grandparents then, and now I live with this burden.
The house on 22nd and E Street with its pale pink color and chipped white lion statues mounted on the stair case is legend. Not only has my mom told me countless stories of her and her sibling’s wild antics from childhood to adolescence, but each and every one of my cousins, aunts, and uncle’s has their own stories about that house. Before my grandparents got sick the house was almost a sanctuary. Every weekend it was full of my family members just hanging out, but now there are probably only a few people at a time.
My cousin Sebastian has been living in the house for about three years now. He moved here from Juarez, Mexico to go to school and study music. He calls him and me the artists of the family, and when I stay the night to help my mom with my grandparents my cousin and I do our art homework on the kitchen table. He writes his compositions for music and I work on whatever it is I’m working on at the time. We talk about art, culture, music, and his trips to foreign countries. He is a true bohemian and it’s really a great feeling to have someone like that and as passionate as I am about art amongst other things in my family. My cousin would only visit a few times when we were young but now that he lives here he has really made an effort to speak English and has been working hard to make his goals. I’m glad that we are becoming closer and closer as the years go on.
It’s a shitty feeling to know that someone that has been so close to you your whole life feels so far away. Well metaphorically speaking. But how many of us would want to go back and change the past? Change something we said, something we did, something we didn’t do. The list goes on. I guess we are only human. We make mistakes. But sometimes it takes years to realize it.
* I sieved through a ton of pictures and albums but suprisingly did not find the particular ones I wanted. I will update if i find them. these will have to do for now.