Some of my earliest memories are of those summers I spent at my abuelita’s house. Now, they are very early memories so I am not sure whether they are before or after I started school. I just remember waking up early with my mother and she would drive across the 836. I know it was the 836 because I can still remember looking at all the planes at Miami international Airport as I ate one of those mini cereal boxes in the passenger seat of my mother’s car.
It’s strange, these memories have never been more vivid than as they are as I write this.
I remember arriving, giving abuelita a big hug, and then going to where my abuelito would sit in his chair listening to his radio and giving him a big hug too. I would spend all day watching cartoons and drawing at the coffee table in the living room.
Every couple of days I would walk with abuelita down to this corner market store. I wonder if it’s still there. I would go with her to buy the ingredients she needed to do her cooking. For a while she would make me the same meal everyday. Not because that’s just what she did but because that was what I wanted. It was just rice and red beans. I loved that shit. To me that was Cuban food. Comida cubano, I literally thought that was the name of the dish. And when I wanted it I would tell her “Yo quiero comida cubano.” And one day, after hearing my demands, she brought me just that. However, it wasn’t rice and red beans. It was definitely Cuban food… but it wasn’t the beans and rice I always ate. I was upset at first until I realized it was just as good.
That was also the moment I realized what “comida cubano” actually mean’t.
My grandmother loved me just as much as my parents did and she spoiled me in ways that they wouldn’t. And she did so until she couldn’t anymore. Sometimes I worry that as she got older and as I became an adult who would eventually develop a life outside the family, that I didn’t return the favor that love enough.
God bless you, Abuelita.