I always have to explain to people why I have an Abuela. There is no Spanish-speaking blood in my body, yet “Hola, Abuela!” and “Te quiero mucho mucho mucho!” were parts of my vocabulary at a young age. My family was adopted by Abuelo and Abuela before my sister and I were even born. I’ve heard the story so many times how my parents could smell garlic and potatoes wafting from their landlady’s kitchen on the other side of the wall…about a half-hour before they would find a fresh, warm tortilla waiting on their doorstep. I can’t drink ginger ale without thinking of Abuela. She always took care of me as a kid when I was too sick to go to school, and we would drink ginger ale and watch soap operas in the kitchen while she cooked. And when my own Grandma and Pop Pop lived too far away to come to Grandparents’ Day at school, Abuela and Abuelo were there with me instead.
On my birthdays, Abuela would always write me out a card I couldn’t understand. But I knew somewhere in the curly Spanish script, she was telling me she loved me, she thanked God for me, and she wished me years of blessings.
And last weekend, we all got the chance to tell her the same. Because Abuela just celebrated her 90th birthday! Happy birthday, Abuela! Te quiero mucho!