El Amor De Los Abuelos

It’s Thanksgiving week, de verdad que, it’s a good time to see God’s hand at work, he leaves his fingerprints all over our lives. I’m getting old you know, I know you can’t tell …Pero, with more than 5 decades of living, I’ve got some good living experiences under my apron. Imaginate! Soy abuela. Not abuelita or grandma, pero  D’ma or Ama . One of my greatest pleasures is that Grandmother title. How can I describe it? 

It is a daunting time when your first baby is placed into your arms because he wants to nurse, demanding his hunger to be satisfied. His well being, his provision, protection, shaping of his character and his prosperity is in your hands. In that moment all you can think of is calming down a screaming baby and from that point on every one of your senses studies and learns that child and the ones to come. A realization is born that what I do matters, mother bear is on alert. Pero, when that welcoming door to grandparenting opened wide for me. I never would have imagined how that mixture of parent and Santa Claus molecules transfer into your mind and heart once you see that little part of you. That pregnancy announcement is a thrilling chemical reaction to new grandparents!

As a child, I never did experience the love of a grandparent. Mine passed away long before my existence. My apa did give me a tiny pinch of what my grandparents were like, where sometimes I might even see some of my abuelo Angel or my abuela Rosarios genes in us. I have often wondered what life is with a grandparent nearby and accessible. My kids had their Tata mostly in his older years. I do remember how crazy with love my ama would get when her grandkids were near. “Que cosita fina”, she’d utter as this fine little delicate thing laid in her arms. It is an amazing wonder to experience. Almost as if a whole new well of vibrant love is dug up in the land of my inheritance, just for a grandchild.. 

Thanksgiving day is a hustle and bustle day in the kitchen for me. Starting with Ben’s sourdough pancakes. This Thanksgiving was no different except that my apa wasn’t with us and I missed him. En la cocina, I was busy cooking, enough for an army and cleaning to make room for the next dish. Ben led us in prayer, but before that he thanked God for me. Then we prayed my apas prayer and Ben remembered the Greene family prayer too. Now, we could pounce the counter top where the feast lay unawares. I enjoyed my familia, then I stayed on my feet til not a creature was stirring, I dropped into bed sometime before midnight, sweet sleep until the clock struck midnight. A text, then a call from my son, “looks like it’s time Ma, can you come?”

Immediately I was alert. I calmly got ready, making sure I had the important stuff, coffee and Daniella’s pumpkin cookies. I was in my car within 20 minutes. Hijole! No gas for the 20 minute drive. Pues hay voy, getting gas at 1 a.m. before getting on the freeway. It was a smooth drive but Jonathan and Denise were already in their car, he was calling me, I was 5 minutes away. I:53 a.m. After a brief check on Denise, calm and focused, they were off. I quietly went into the house to laydown with Jeremiah. This 2 year old uses a whole king size bed! Twenty minutes later I asked if all was well. “She’s at 7 centimeters” Wow! Yet I dozed off anyway. Jeremiah stirred, reaching for his momma, touching my face in the dark as his little body got close for a snuggle. Yikes! His little hands didn’t recognize me and he sat up and peered in the dark, I kept my eyes closed. Oh how I wanted to comfort him. I felt so sorry for my little grandson. Los Mexicanos, or maybe it’s just the Zepedas have this saying, along these lines “te va a tumbar el burro muy pronto” Which means, you’ll no longer be “king of the hill” or the baby of the house because another is coming. I wondered if little Jeremiah could know how his life would change, especially as he was going from baby to big brother in a matter of centimeters. Jeremiah was studying the situation and his surroundings, probably wondering how his D’ma was in the bed. He looked around and after a while he said, very sleepily 

“Hi Ma” He was calm. He seemed reconciled with the situation and I was relieved. 

“Mommy?” He said. 

“She went to get the baby.O.k.?” Like it was the most normal thing to do. Maybe it is? Her water bag broke at midnight and she had to go out in the dark to get her baby.

“O’tay” he quietly responded, like he wasn’t surprised.   He seemed reconciled with the situation and I was so relieved.

He sat there for a long time, his head heavy with sleep, but he did lay back down and we both had a moment of sweet slumber before I heard the door rattling open. Que?!

“Jonathan! What happened?”

“Didn’t you get the text I sent Ma?”

I looked at my phone and there in my phone, laid my 8th grandchild in his fathers arms. “Que cosita tan fina” He had come into this world just before 3 a.m.

For her 5th delivery Denise had chosen to have her care and delivery at a birthing center; Best Start. Mi hijo didn’t know what to do with all the holistic and natural techniques! He’s used to the clinical methods of the hospital 😀 

“Do you want to get in the tub with her?”

“Do you want to stick your hand in the water to touch the baby’s head?”

“Do you want to keep the placenta?”

“Do you want to take your shirt off for skin to skin with your baby? 

For Denise, it might have been her best experience. She was given liberty to choose her positions and nature took its course. The midwife quickly prepared the tub and herself as mi nuera warned that she needed to push. Mi nietecito poked his head out, decided which way he would make his appearance and tada he made his entrance. Denise was cleaned up and ready for some rest… which she would do at home as soon as Jonathan ran home to get her things. Baby was born at 3 am and by 7:45 a.m. she was back home and by nine his apa came to meet his name sake. Benjamin Walter holds Uriah Benjamin, bien chulo! This little Ben was our 3rd generation of Benjamins, I knew my flaco was honored, I had said to my son that it was fitting and a new tradition for the San Diego Greenes to name their 2nd son Benjamin.

This sounded like a fitting labor and delivery experience for this “get it quick” era. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences.  It was definitely a beautiful experience for us all, it seemed to close with “HappyThanksgiving and bienvenida es la Navidad. Merry Christmas.” We’ve all had a chance to meet the new baby and rejoice with our son. I am a pleased abuela and very thankful for more increase. 

En Conclusion

Mi hijo says that I’ve turned soft in my abuela era. I don’t know about that, mis nietos know I don’t mess with serious infractions like lying and disobedience and straight up rebellion. I’m quick to put on my mom hat, but I do put it on super lightly. I mean, la abuela doesn’t truly bring down the hammer right? So here’s how it works, if I put out the warning I must follow through so I’m careful how I warn, pues, they are my grandchildren after all and I will show the tough love if my must, but I truly prefer to display the soft sweet love. Gracias a Dios por mis amorcitos

Thank You Jesus For This Food, Amen.

Sharing food with mi familia has always celebrated milestones, created memories and filled our home with so much joy. This weekend I’ll be busy, maybe even in panic mode getting my ingredients together to feed my familia. Ya se, all those well prepared planners are way ahead of the game, pero yo? Well I just hope I find everything I need and if I don’t, I’ll just do like my ama taught me, work with what I have and keep my family happy. It’s a long day in the kitchen for me but I truly do love it when we gather around the table and counter. I am so very thankful for Thanksgiving, and thankful for my food.

Pero, before the Thanksgiving feast food coma, and before the frenzy of grocery shopping I’m thinking warm and fuzzy food thoughts. Remembering those foods that connected me to a love. I’m basking in those occasions that left a jewel in my heart. These are not necessarily Thanksgiving memories, but food memories that I’m thankful for. Mira:

  • I remember my amas avena during the cold desert mornings. Creamy avena for us was either oatmeal or cream of wheat, slowly cooked in leche with a cinnamon stick and teaspoon of sugar (or more) The chilly weather lately has me cooking avena, como me acuerdo de mi ama. She was adamant about avena with breakfast. We couldn’t leave home without a nice breakfast that always started with hot creamy avena.
  • I remember the fresh flour tortillas she whipped up for breakfast lunch or dinner. Absolutely unacceptable to have a meal without tortillas. She taught all her girls to make them, but my older sister Lupe mastered the “art” . One shelf in her fridge had a flat container of premade bolitas, dough balls; that way she only made dough a couple of times a week, and fresh tortillas were served daily in her home.
  • Nancy’s homemade bread- Ya se, from tortillas to bread. That’s how it is in a Multicultural familia. My suegra taught me how to make homemade bread. I’m so thankful for it and I think my family and friends are too since I enjoy sharing it, especially during this time of the year. 
  • Sourdough Pancakes- A Greene family tradition. This is my Benjamins show. Bien presumido! He loves to show off his sourdough pancakes, he absolutely believes the world is missing out not having his sourdough pancakes. They are pretty delicious though. Plenty of times he gets carried away inviting friends over for breakfast on Thanksgiving, a feast before the feast. My boys get so worried that there will not be enough pancakes for their usual 2nd and 3rd servings. 
  • Yams- These are not a big hit in our house. It used to be my sister Patty and I that loved the oven baked brown sugar and marshmallow yams, now it’s just me, it could be that Patty is having her own yams in heaven? Yams at Thanksgiving are another little tribute to my sister.
  • Cranberry sauce- This made the list because every year Ben insists he must have me serve it. I somehow remember to get the cranberry sauce and every year I forget to put it on the table. Asi es, cranberry sauce an old Thanksgiving dinner tradition, or some kind of berry. Pero, my cold blooded Englishman doesn’t notice that it wasn’t on his plate until after the food coma sets in. 
  • 3 Step Cheesecake. Exactamente just 3 steps. We have tasted better cheesecake, sometimes it bakes too dark, but I stick to this easy recipe. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive and now it’s tied to the Greene family. Thanksgiving without our easy 3 step Philadelphia cheesecake is unimaginable.
  • Pumpkin Pie- I can’t make my list and not include pumpkin pie, even though Thomas just uncovered to me this month that pumpkin pie is not a favorite of his on Thanksgiving- is that even allowed to be spoken? Esta loco! Pumpkin pie with whipping cream y un cafecito, mmm  
  • Broccoli salad- Pues, it’s supposed to be Joan’s Broccoli Madness Salad, pero ya sabes, it has becomes Rosies “lito bit of this and that” Broccoli salad. Again, it started off that Patty and I enjoyed the salad, now it’s me and Daniella. My one and one child that eats veggies, likes my broccoli salad. Provecho Daniella! 
  • Thanksgiving Leftovers- Is it possible to cause division in the camp because of leftovers? Sometimes you feel the tension. Patty and I made a pretty good team for our Thanksgiving planning, she forked out the money and I forked out the labor, a win win. One year she had also wanted to buy a turkey dinner from Honeybaked Ham Co. and I told her that was silly, que exagerada. She came prepared with her containers for leftovers. She was shocked and disappointed that she had leftover empty containers. Que langaros! We ate so much she had minimal leftovers to take home that year, or at least that’s how she saw it. Daniella and Thomas help themselves, no questions asked or comments made. Pero Jonathan, he’s  like his tia Patty, he wants to make sure I make enough for him to take home leftovers. Emery, he’s my lil flaco, he doesn’t pay attention until he comes around looking for leftovers then wonders who took them all! Ben simply expects to be served some leftovers the next day. 

The busy days before Thanksgiving make me a little crazy but of course I wouldn’t have it any other way. This Thanksgiving is lined with some sad thoughts. There will be a missing place setting for my apa and it is a second Thanksgiving with Covid hovering, but Gods hand in my life is undeniable and I must remember to Thank him for his goodness and provision. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Acuerdense, that feast is about storing up food memories, not calories.

It’s not about the food really, its about the people we love. When all five senses come together to celebrate with the people most dear to us, the memories last.