Day 9: Your most treasured item.
I never really got to know my paternal grandparents. They lived in Puerto Rico, and neither they nor my parents had enough money to make frequent visits a possibility; travel from Houston to P.R. wasn’t cheap. One of the very few memories I have of them involved my parents and their friends getting the bright idea to pick bananas right out of the trees in (I believe) El Yunque National Forest on one of our visits to P.R. You know what I remember about that particular excursion? Sitting in the car after with my abuelo when cockroaches started pouring out of the trunk into the backseat with us. Turns out there were roaches living in those banana bunches. It’s a wonder I don’t flat-out faint at the sight of cockroaches to this day. Or bananas.
My better memory is of my abuela cooking for us (an abuela will never let you go hungry) and swinging in a hammock with my abuelo. That’s it. That’s all I can remember about them on my own. My last visit with both of them was when I was 3 or 4 years old. I saw my abuela again when my dad and I flew to Puerto Rico for Abuelo’s funeral when I was 11 1/2 years old. And on that visit, Abuela Maria gave me a religious medal that she and my abuelo had purchased for me years before. I wore that necklace every day from then on, only taking it off when I visited a beach, pool, or amusement park. I tucked it into my shirt if it didn’t match whatever other jewelry I was wearing (I prefer silver or white gold), slept with it on, and even wore it in the shower. Which is why, one day about 10 years ago, it was sheer luck that I happened to look at the floor of my shower just in time to spot the medal floating toward the drain. In a blind panic, I stepped on it at the last second, preventing it from disappearing down the drain. My mom took it to a jewelry store to repair the broken loop that led to the medal falling off. I stopped wearing it every day.
It now pretty much lives in my jewelry box, but every now and then I pull it out to look at it. It’s literally the only tangible gift I have from my abuela and abuelo, and I feel safer knowing where it is at all times than I do risking wearing it and maybe losing it. But after tonight, I might just start wearing it while I sleep so I can feel like I have my grandparents with me again.