Valuable Lessons

Engraved for an eternity

By ~ DHOC~
Published on LatinoLA: October 20, 2005

Valuable Lessons

Today?s morning schedule - coming to work was a bit tight. I wasn?t able to get up, fix myself and fix my lunch in time to be at work by 8:00. Heck, I was just glad I got myself to work much less my lunch.

As I sat and waited for one of my co-workers to bring in our takeout, (one of those good ole greasy burgers from the local store) You know, those last minute office lunch suggestions when no one can think of a place to order because we?ve exhausted all ideas. And we wonder why society is considered obese?

Sitting in the conference room discussing hurricane season and all the hurricanes that have swept upon the nation and to think, we?re not even past hurricane season yet!

Discussing anything that comes to mind, I gladly join the discussion and watch the differences in lunches as I wait patiently for mine. If it were up to me, our conference room would be equipped with a stove and some pots and pans so I can whip up some huevos rancheros, beans, and tortillas. I?m not a breakfast eater but I do love breakfast recipes at noon. I think its an inherited nature.

Continuing with wonderful things from the past, one of my co-workers begins to tell us about how hard he had to work up in Michigan tending to his grandma?s cherry trees and mowing the yard and doing other chores. He tells me although his name is Jones, he doesn?t know where the phrase "keeping up with the Jones? " came from because growing up, his household of Jones? didn?t have much.

He continues to state what he learned growing up and proudly says that as much work as he did when he was young, has actually kept him young today and if it hadn?t been for his Grandma, Grandpa, and Mom and Dad, he would never have learned a lot of his life experiences.
Never passing up an opportunity to discuss what life has taught me, I begin to tell my co-workers a story.....

At the age of 5, (my first year in school). I used to walk to my Grandma?s house and wait til a certain hour and then walk home when my mom would arrive from work.

That first year, I learned my alphabet, numbers, and began the first onsets of math. I remember that one wonderful day when we were learning currency and I was asked to go to the board to work on a money problem.

The question was: If you have 10 cents and you go to the store and buy a candy for 3 cents and an ice cream for 5 cents, how much do you have left? I raised my hand and my teacher (Ms. Hainer) summoned me to the board. I went over and drew two pennies. My teacher was very pleased. She commended me in front of the whole class and I was gleaming with pride.

That afternoon, I couldn?t wait to tell my grandmother and grandfather. I walked in the door but wiped my feet like I was suppose to before entering and went straight to my grandmother who was fixing me some galletitas con leche in the kitchen.

My grandmother turned around and addressed me. I can still hear her voice "Marianita" ya llegaste hija? My response "Si abuelita" "Que bueno" she responded. I proceeded to tell her the story and she was just as proud of me as I felt. She told me to drink my milk, eat my cookie, then scurry on and tell my grandpa, who was busy placing feed in the gallineros.

I did just as she asked, took the cup to the sink and washed it and dried it with the trapo always hung by the sink and continued to walk out the door. On the way out telling my grandma, "voy con me abuelito." Seeing her sitting in the living room knitting, she slowly responded, "Esta bien hijita."

On the way out, gently holding the screen door so it wouldn?t bang loudly. It was a "no no" in my grandma?s house to even muster the idea of letting the door slam. My mother?s words, "anca tu abuelita, se respetan todas las cosas" giving me that stern look. Somehow, that stern look was all it took from parents back then and there were no questions asked.

Walking down the steps toward my grandfather, I stopped to pet the bunnies, the chicks, and the kittens. Grandma had this wonderful way of bathing everything in water colors (you know those that you dip the Easter eggs in. Therefore, whenever she let her pets out of the cages, you could see all sorts of pretty colors running around the backyard. Aaah, such beauty.

My grandfather a strong, stern man who always wore khakis, a button down shirt with an undershirt was busy with the gallos as I approached him. "Ya llegue abuelito" "Que bueno hijita, pongase a ayudar me?" "Si, abuelito" I responded.

I grabbed the bucket of feed and proceeded to place some chick feed in the homemade bowls inside the cages and began to tell him what had happened in school. His words "primero el trabajo y despues la platica" "Si, abuelito" I responded as I continued to work.

Finally finishing, he sat on a huge ole tree trunk he had made into a chair and said "aver que me ibas a contar" I continued to tell him about what had happened in school and he said" Que bueno hijita, entonces ya que sabes de monedas, puedes ir a la tienda Vasquez y le trais unos cigarrillos Bugles a tu vis abuela as he handed me some money and summond me in the direction of the corner store. "Si, abuelito" and I scurried off to the store which was about a block from my grandma and grandpa?s.

At the store greeted by Do?a Petra, I asked for the paper and the tobacco (Bugles). Remembering what I had learned at school. I looked at the candy corns in a jar. I asked Dona Petra for a penny?s worth, paid for the merchandise and cheerfully headed out the door.

Arriving at grandma?s house, I walked over to my grandfather and gave him the change and the Bugles. He counted the money and said "y donde esta lo demas, aqui falta un centavo" His tone of voice nervously led me to show him the tiny bag of candy corn I had bought. Obviously upset, he sternly looked at me and said "Y quien le dio permiso?" I was so nervous, I started tugging at my dress and he advised me to stop, sit up straight and look him in the eye and answer. I nervously moved about as he looked at me and told me. Si usted pudo agarrar dinero sin permiso, tiene que ser responsable y dar me una respuesta! Looking at him with tears in my eyes, I replied. Nadie me dio permiso. Y porque los gasto? At that point I was in tears but stifled my weeps. My grandpa then took my hands and told me. "No se trata de dinero, esto se trata de no andar agarrando lo que no le pertenece!" Se va ense?ar a respetar. Todas las cosas que no son suyas se deben respetar, usted es de mejor clase, que se le grabe este dia. ?Entendido!" "Si, abuelito," I responded in between heavy sighs.

Grandpa didn?t spank me that day but he might as well have, his words hit me as hard as a spanking. Not because I was wrong but because I had made a grave mistake in front of a man that I honored and respected. A valuable lesson was learned that day, although it was merely one penny, I learned that I should never, ever take anything from anybody, no matter how minute.

Ironically, calling my mother to tell her about this piece and after hearing my story, she told me, she too had the same happen to her on her first visit to the store. However, she bought barrilitos (those hard root beer candies) and she got scolded royally. She said she was scolded for a month, doing her household chores and those her brothers would normally do.

We laughed and we cried that day. Wondering what my grandfather thought when I had done the same thing as she. Like mother like daughter? Well needless to say, that was the best lesson I ever learned..... and had my mother and grandfather never taught me, integrity and respect, who knows what type of person I would be today.....

Dedicated to my grand-father Esteban Cardenas, may he be looking down from heaven, smiling at the product of his teaching and my mother (whom I still have today, gracias a dios) Sylvia Josefina Cardenas Gonzalez who motivates and supports me to the fullest each and every day. I love you mom! But not to forget, my beautiful grandma who was my pillar of strength and filler of my tummy :)

About ~ DHOC~:
MaryAnn (Marianita as mi abuelito & abuelita called me) ?DHOC? Gonzalez..... Sharing memories and the beauty of childhood teachings. maryanngonzalez@lycos.com

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