(As Published in Tiempo Newspaper)
My parents divorced when I was 2. Like so many kids these days, I was fortunate to have stable grandparents willing to step in and raise me and my sister. While my mother was trying to figure out a career and get her own life in order, I was learning the Rosary and helping in the family business.
We worked as kids…not like slave labor, but we learned a work ethic and were taught to earn our way through life. Although my grandparents had plenty of money to get us whatever we wanted, if we didn’t need it, we rarely got it.
My grandfather taught me how to multiply and encouraged me to read and practice my penmanship. He woke up each day, had breakfast with us and drove me to school. My grandmother taught me how to make paper airplanes and kept a close eye on me, making sure I never got out of line.
We were safe and loved…and that’s all that mattered.
Sure, we didn’t grow up with all the toys and gadgets our friends and cousins had, but we were content to have a roof over our heads and food on the table. Every night, my grandmother read stories to us and even though she must have been tired, when asked to tell it again, she never hesitated.
We got through it, like many kids of broken homes. Eventually, my mother remarried and came home to get us and start a new life. We struggled and lived in the country with no water or electricity.
For several years, we squeaked through life, until that marriage came to an end.
Again, we were back at our grandparent’s. They welcomed us with open arms and were happy to get us through the phase we were in. By this time, I was in Jr. High, and realized my grandparents were wise people, willing to teach us everything they knew. I remember talking to my grandfather about advice. He was always sure to say things in a way that allowed me to figure things out myself. I never understood why he didn’t just answer my questions…until I had my own child.
I’m thankful for my grandparents and for all grandparents who have stepped up to raise their grand kids. They never expected to have to endure the difficulty of raising grand kids, but they did it because it was the right thing to do. They never complained. They never got tired…or at least we never knew it.
If only parents felt the responsibility of their parents, we might not have the problems we have in our Hispanic communities. We might have more fathers around to help discipline the kids and provide guidance they need, now more than ever.
There’s a saying I always repeat to myself, “You are where you are because of the choices you make.” If you don’t like where you are, you need to make different choices. Same goes with the community. If we don’t like where it’s headed, we need to do something different. For starters, we can do a better job raising our kids. We can prepare them for the future, so they can achieve success and pass more to their kids.
Next time you see your grandparents, let them know how much they mean to you and how much you appreciate everything they’ve done for you. One day, they’ll be gone, but their wisdom will live on.