Saludando a los abuelitos
I wrote the following as a comment over at Lotería Chicana and I decided to make it into a post. I started a post like this a few months ago but never finished it:
My maternal grandfather passed away when my mom was three months old and my paternal grandmother passed away in 1986, so I only have one grandparent from each side of the family. I was taught to refer both as “abuelita/o.” My whole family (cousins, aunts/uncles) uses abuelita/o. Thinking about it, our whole pueblo uses abuelita/o. Sometimes I’ll refer to my grandparents as Don/Doña ______ and they also don’t mind that, but this is rare.
I was too young when I met mis bisabuelos to remember. I only have photographs.
My physical greeting towards my grandparents is something that I don’t know many other people do. When I see them, I always take their hand and kiss it before hugging/shaking it. My parents also do this when they see their parents. Maybe it’s done after a certain age.
In my Spanish class in high school, we started talking about greetings and we got to physical aspects (handshakes/kisses/etc.). I raised my hand and said that when I see my grandparents, I always kiss their hand. No one else in the class said they did it, but my teacher did. She was also from my part of Los Altos de Jalisco and I was the only Alteño in the class. Does anyone else kiss their parent’s/grandparent’s hands?
Image above is a portrait taken in the mid-1970s of my dad’s family (he’s the tall male on the left). My grandfather and his oldest son are missing because they were in East L.A., working. My dad and his brother next to him would make the trip to the U.S. a few years later. In the center is mi Abuelita Catalina and the youngest child, then no more than two years old. My abuelita died in 1986 due to a degenerative disease. My brother and I think it’s ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).