Honoring My Grandma

October 30, 2014

From Iliana Alvarez ’16

Five months and 18 days ago, I lost someone very, very special to me. My cute, loving, and very huggable grandmother passed away.

It was a great shock that Sunday afternoon when I heard the news that the person who had been my hero ever since I was a little girl had left this world. Crushing feelings of depression took over. I felt like the world had ended and I had died too. I felt angry and guilty that I wasn’t there to save her or be with her in her last moments. My grandmother.

The Day of the Dead teaches that you must be happy for the deceased, since they have moved on to a happier life. This is what I am now coming to terms with, that I should not be sorry for myself because my grandmother is gone. I should be happy because she is finally at peace after 86 years of a rough life. There is no way to bring her back, except in my thoughts. And although I’ll never again be able to see her slap her bony little knees when she laughs, or apply sparkly pink gel in her hair, I’m grateful I was able to share those moments with her at all.

I was amazed to see all the people who came to pay their respects to her at the funeral.

Everyone had a good story to tell about her. My favorite is one I was lucky enough to witness myself:

Where I’m from, it gets so hot sometimes that you can’t stand to be in your own skin. My grandma, being the bold person she was, took it upon herself to solve this problem. On a typical scalding hot day on the ranch, she grabbed a machete, sharpened it, and began slicing a tractor tire in half. When she was done (and drenched in sweat) she turned the sliced tire upright so that it looked like a giant rubber U.  Then she filled the sliced tractor tire with water and climbed right in, clothes and all. My cousins and I watched this process in speechless awe. Mind you, this was two years ago, when she was 84. It took us a few seconds to realize the genius idea she had and we all rushed to do the same.

She never failed to amaze us. Although my grandma is gone, her memories and lessons will remain with me forever. In honor of her, I will place a picture of my grandma on our Day of the Dead altar as part of the tradition.

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    Iliana Alvarez '16