I often struggle with conversation about language. It's ironic really—not having the words to explain the way language is lost.
I wrote this for my grandfather. Both as a thanks and as a coming of acceptance that I won't have him forever. But I am grateful for the moments we've shared and for the lessons he taught me, which have always helped me remember who I am and where I come.
Thank you for speaking to me as if I knew what it meant
To bring a family across the border
With nothing but dreams to guide you
I’ll never tell you how much it meant to me
But I’ll show you that it’s shaped every fabric of my dreams for us
I went to college and fell in love with the music you used to play en la sala, full blast
Because I knew that somehow it would remind me that I’m Mexicano like you
During times when I was so sure that I had lost myself
In the wave of American imperialism, coded: assimilation
Everything I knew was washed away
From my language to mi abuela at the tender age of 8
I'm different now, but clung tighter to the roots you nurtured
And I am stronger when I remember the kind of life you led
I promise not to ask about the times you bore so much on your body because I know it still weighs heavy
I will carry you on mine
For as long as I am lucky enough to have you around
It is a miracle the way you’ve taught me so much without words
For a man who couldn’t read
For a man who couldn’t write
It is a miracle the way you’ve sustained so much life with your hands
Now aged and worn with wisdom
I know there is so much I have yet to learn
So for the time we have left
I hope that we can spend it well
And if you can’t understand me the next time I try to speak
Know that it is okay
I’d much rather hear your voice. Again and again.
Te amo, abuelito.