Tag Archives: grandpa

An Open Letter to My Grandparents

Dear abuelitos,
     I can’t believe you’re not speaking to me. I’ve called you multiple times and left voicemails, texted you, and I mailed you a letter. No response. The last time I called, you ended the call after it rang a couple times. I didn’t think you could “break up” with your granddaughter, but I guess that IS a thing. I thought “ghosting” was only something in the online dating world, but apparently, it’s not reserved to 20-somethings who don’t know how to be honest or have real conversations.
     I’ve been ghosted by my grandparents. It’s actually kind of funny. Or it would be, if the reason wasn’t so absurd, mind-blowing, and hurtful.
     I asked my dad to adopt me last month. He’s been my dad for 22 years–almost my entire life. It was such a happy moment and we all cried tears of joy, knowing that this was only making paper-official what has been heart-official for over two decades. We went to court, stood before a judge, and threw a small party to celebrate. Everyone was over the moon, sending us their well wishes and congratulations. Everyone except you, I guess. You decided to cut me out of your life instead.
     What confuses me the most is that we’ve talked about your son, my biological father, on many occasions. You’ve apologized to me for his actions and his absence. We’ve talked about his drug use, we’ve talked about his violence toward my mother, and we’ve talked about how he hasn’t made any attempt to reenter my life or get to know me in any way. If he was half a man, he’d thank my dad for doing his job for him.
     Despite my resentment toward him, I contacted him, to try to find out why you were ignoring me. He didn’t respond. I guess social media is the only way to reach you–that seems to be the way you found out about the adoption. You definitely didn’t talk to me about it. I can’t get ahold of you at all, so I’m hoping this letter makes its way to you.
     My dad has done so much for me in 22 years–do you even realize what he’s done? Your son never paid a cent of child support (which you said you’d do for him, but then never did). My dad is the reason I’m not in extreme debt–he helped me through college, he helped me buy a car, not to mention feeding me, clothing me, putting a roof over my head…you know, the usual Dad duties.
     More importantly, my dad has been my shoulder to cry on. He’s held my hand, hugged me tight, and bandaged my injuries more times than I could possibly count. He was there through both of my surgeries. He knows all my friends. He knew my boyfriends. He answers his phone every time I call.
      I am grateful for your son, for giving me life. I am grateful for his creativity, which I’m told he had much of–some people say that creativity is passed on, some say I’ve acquired it through my life experiences. I’m not sure, but if the former is true, then I am grateful. I am grateful to keep my last name, which connects me to my Mexican heritage. And I was grateful for my relationship with you–my grandparents–even though we didn’t have a relationship for years and I felt like you’d abandoned me just like your son did. But for the past few years especially, I’ve loved the relationship we’d formed. And now you’re gone again, like you never existed at all.
      How odd it is to only have half a family. It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life. Most of the time, I feel OK, I feel whole. Aunt Gigi helped with that–she, as you know, has always been an important person in my life. She stuck by our side after Mom decided to get a divorce. She’s never been absent from my life. And now you’ve taken her away from me too. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse–you blocked my number at her house. I used to talk to her on the phone almost every day.
     I didn’t know you could be so heartless. It astounds me that your blood is my blood; I came from you. We are the same yet so, so different.
     I will probably never hear from you again, and that’s fine. Well, it’s not fine, but if that’s your choice, then I will live with it. All I can do is hope that one day, you’ll realize the senseless pain you’ve caused. Or maybe, since you claim to be good Catholics, it will be God who helps you to realize this when you meet him at the gates one day. I have never wanted more for Him to be real.
your granddaughter



My Papa is one of the most interesting people I know. He’s one of those crazy examples of a person who grew up dirt poor, didn’t even finish high school, and yet runs a multi-million dollar company. Yeah, it’s insane.

As a person, he rocks. He always has enough booze to throw a last-minute party, he has a raspy, pipe-smoking voice that you never get tired of hearing, and he’s hilarious without trying too hard to make you laugh. But I wouldn’t exactly call him loving, although according to my mom he’s much more affectionate than he used to be. Until very recently, I wasn’t sure if he even knew very much about me. He has spelled my name incorrectly for years. I’m not sure why “Alyshe” ever made sense, but I’ve learned to accept it. He’s never been the touchy-feely type—I’ve never heard him open up about anything and I’ve never even seen him be overly warm or adoring with anyone really. His not-so-clean divorce with my grandma is somewhat of a shaky, hushed tale with a lot of holes that I think I’d rather leave as holes.

Papa is extremely meat and potatoes…and most of the time, just meat. If that makes sense. Every birthday and Christmas, I get an envelope with a check (no card) made out to Alyshe, whoever that bitch is.

What I’ve learned from him is that some people show love in small moments. Or rare moments. Or very small, very rare moments. It’s hard to get used to, for me especially. When I love someone, I’m a nut; an over-shower, a constant affection-giver, a broken record of “I love you”. But with Papa, you just have to bide your time, be patient, wait for that unexpected moment. For me, there are three moments I hold onto with Papa and two of them happened this summer.

The first one was all I had for so long. I was 14 years old and I was about to undergo a spinal fusion. Obviously, I was scared shitless. I was so scared that I couldn’t cry or speak or think. I remember lying there, waiting for the anesthesia to sink in, and my legs were just shaking uncontrollably. They had never done that and they haven’t done that since. I don’t remember who else was standing beside me, but I do remember Papa grabbing my shins with his hands and I just felt…protected. Even amidst everything that was happening, I remember realizing how concerned yet comforting his face looked and how without saying anything, his grip seemed to tell me that I was going to be OK.

I think about that moment a lot, especially when he seems distant, fading.

In May, I graduated from University of Hawaii with my Masters and I honestly didn’t think he’d be on the list of people that would care. I didn’t even care too much. I sat on the beach all day and drank beer instead of walking across the stage. But he shocked me by reaching out on several occasions, rambling about how I was the first in the family to get my Masters and how proud he was. It was bizarre and awesome. I guess I just always assumed he was more pleased by other family members—they have good jobs and boyfriends or husbands or babies and they go to church and vote Republican and ya’ know, everything he’s into. Whereas I’m this half Mexican liberal kid with no man, baby, or Bible who wants to be a writer.

Which brings me to the latest small moment (big moment for me). Papa has asked me to write a book for him. As in, listen to him tell his life story, help him by questioning, type it up, organize and edit, and boom. His company does publishing in house and he wants to print only enough for family and friends. But let’s back up. Papa is trusting me with this? I had no idea he even knew I was a writer. I don’t even think he knows that I majored in Creative Writing and interned at Simon & Schuster. This came completely out of left field. He asked me very casually, as if he hadn’t given it much thought at all. But the fact remains that he asked ME, Alyshe!

This kind of scares me because his health has not been good at all and I worry that he’s suddenly pushing this idea because he wants to leave something behind for us…

But mostly, I’m just ecstatic to have another memory to hold onto. He may be racist and he may have followed up the writing gig offer with a comment about how I’ve gained weight but he’s impossible to not love (in a big, loud, showy way). He’s one of those people. He can get away with anything—all I have to do is remember his face in the hospital that day and his fingers rubbing the top of the lucky ladybug socks Aunt Debbie had given me—and all is well and forgiven and I feel his love stronger than ever.

I can’t wait to start writing about this man, this rock of our family, this West Virginia backwoods boy turned corporation owner, my grandfather. Maybe I’ll learn why he is the way he is. And maybe he’ll learn how to spell my name.