There are few things as beautiful as the thrill that can be felt when we participate in true and profound interpersonal connections, the kind that — sometimes — happen between us humans. Especially when they happen between people of different generations.
To witness or to participate in the marvelous reality of our lives, or — as I have written before — to learn how to recognize poetry when you see it walking down the street, is something essential, desirable, loveable.
Today’s column was suggested by my friend Alexis Terrazas, Editor-in-Chief of El Tecolote.
With Alexis, in these eight years of collaboration, we have had an excellent and affectionate relationship. Ours is one of those true adventures that I mention above: two people from different generations collaborating with mutual respect. It helps that we share some key likes and values, such as our love for sports and our desire to always strive to improve this newspaper and the community in general. We also share a desire to act as respectful critics. Of each other, or of the community in general. We believe that not to be honest critics would make us mediocre.
Another common share is a love for future generations. Alexis is father to two young twins, Kali and Kais. A boy and a girl. Beautiful, active and always surprising. I have three daughters, a son, three grandsons and two grand-daughters.
Thus, our conversations are not always about immigration issues, racism, or some other heavy-duty issue affecting our society. Or about sports. Sometimes, we chat about our descendants, of all ages. Recently, Alexis suggested that I should write about my youngest grandson: Clemente, who is 4 years old. Alexis thinks that I have some good stories with him.
I have been spending more time with this grandson, because his parents, Dulce and Ahkeel, are very busy. Studying, working, rehearsing music, juggling a myriad of daily duties that also include a girl who just turned 13 years-old, my grand-daughter Luna. I could write a great deal about all of my children and grandchildren…but let me begin with Clemente.
Barely 4 years old, Clemente can already read and write a great deal. I think that — hopefully — reading has become an essential part of his life. That happens, of course, because his mom and dad read to him constantly. Thus, the boy identifies reading as something which leads to excellent imaginary adventures.
I totally agree. I always say that one of my biggest childhood privileges was the fact that I grew up without television…or without “smart phones.” Reading was my thing. Hallelujah!
To read and discuss subjects from the books he discovers are essential in Clemente’s life. He is able to repeat stories, songs…or jokes. Since he turned two years old, he has told jokes to whomever asks for one. Sometimes — as it should be — he refuses. Nevertheless, he has also discovered that a story, or a joke well told, can open doors and deserve smiles.
If he tells a joke to those women friends who work in the Café that sometimes he visits with his dad, he usually gets a gift. Perhaps a bagel with sausage, his favorite! No butter.
In another Café, frequented by his Tata, Clemente met Adelina de Anda, AKA “Everyone’s Little Grandma.” “Abuelita Angelina” is many years older than my grandson. She is over 94 years old.
A growing friendship has been established between this wonderful woman and Clemente.
It was not easy. For a long time, the kid resisted the advances of “Abuelita Angelina” — her gifts, her saintly smiles, her offers to buy him something yummy to eat. Now, I dare to believe, they have become more comfortable and Angelina does not have “to win him” with little gifts.
At least, that is what I tell her, but she does not pay me much attention.
Last week, Angelina went to the park with us. Clemente and Angelina walked the three blocks that separate the Café from a close-by park with ease. Angelina is a great walker!
At the park, Clemente went to get on the swings. Angelina offered to push him, but right away realized that it was a rather dangerous activity. The sand around the swings could make her trip and fall. A little frustrated, she decided to sit on a nearby bench. I asked her whether she might not want to get on a swing herself, that I could push her. She thought about it, for just two seconds and then, slowly, as I held one of her arms, she sat on a swing. When Clemente saw this, he wanted to push her. I told him that he could do it, but that he had to be careful.
Suddenly, a wonderful image appeared: that of a four-year-old boy pushing a swing where a 94-year-old woman was flying, smiling from ear to ear!
As I am faithful to a “not-so-smart” flip phone, I could not manage to take a photo. Still, I believe that the image created by my friend Bruno Ferreira, an artist from Veracruz, Mexico, might be better than a photograph.
A few days ago, Clemente asked me: “Why do you invent stories and songs that are not real?”
His question made me smile. So typical of childhood, when so much seems mysterious or difficult to comprehend. Now, as I finish this column, I can tell my grandson that everything I wrote here is real…but it is also marvelous.
Long live the intergenerational adventures!