I originally wrote this story in 1996. I decided to edit and update it for this post. – Cathy.
Antonio Lopez, known as Abuelito, was in his sixties when I was born. I remember his license listed his birth date as 06-13-95. Years ago we found a copy of an affidavit of his birth in a box filled with old papers. It listed the date as two years earlier. He was born on a farm in Mexico. I was surprised to think he would have been 100 years old in 1993 instead of 1995.
A picture of him in a military uniform shows a robust, handsome, young man. I never knew that part of him. To me, Abuelito’s hair was a silvery crew cut. He often wore light-colored pants and lightweight cardigans with elbow patches. He had a twinkle in his eye and a quick sense of humor. As a little girl I would follow him around the house. I can picture him mowing the lawn while I sat on the porch. When we walked down the street to get my grandmother from work I often tried to convince him to buy sweet bread from the nearby Mexican bakery.
At night, when we were supposed to be asleep, my siblings and I would crawl on our hands and knees into my grandparents’ room to surprise them. Even though they acted surprised, they knew we were there and just played along. We didn’t figure that out until we were much older! Eventually we’d say good-night and make our way to our own rooms.
In the spring birds would build nests in the patio beams. My grandfather would pick me to look at the little eggs. I could never convince him to let me keep a bird after it hatched.
When it rained we would watch the storms from the patio. Being with him I was never afraid of the lightning and thunder.
My grandfather would pick us up after school, waiting in the car. My classmates would yell, “Cathy your grandfather’s here!” Whenever he got out of the car they would hover around him. I remember feeling happy and proud that they treated him lovingly.
He used to take Abuelita, my sister Rose and me shopping downtown. Abuelita was an incredible shopper with amazing stamina. She would bargain shop for what felt like an eternity. We would often get tired and whiny, then pester to go home. Abuelito always waited for us in the coffee shop of one of the department stores. We would run out of the elevator and across the floor down large hardwood steps. We then ran up some other steps to get to the coffee shop. He would always be there reading.
Abuelito was quite a character He would sing songs that really poked fun at us but we always laughed.
My grandfather died when I was 14. The ache I felt lasted many years. Now, when I hear the sound of thunder in the distance, I think of him and smile.