By Stephanie Barrera, Quinn Center Compañera
Growing up, I had the blessing to have my grandparents with me. They were my second set of parents, and they were the ones who really molded my values, principles, and morals. My abuelita Petra is the strongest woman, in every aspect, that you will ever meet. Yet, even with her tough exterior, she has a heart of gold. She has shown me what it truly means to push forward even when life is pushing back, and to never give up. She is a strong believer in “Do to others as you would like them do to you” and has instilled within me the belief that every single human being has dignity; equality is for all. Additionally, my abuelito Jesus, who I so lovingly would call “Chico,” showed me patience. His presence was graceful and made me feel calm and safe.
One of the fondest memories that I have as a child is going to the Dollar Store with my grandparents and picking out new puzzles. After we would get home from shopping, I can remember as if it were yesterday, my grandma sitting to the side sorting frijoles that she would later cook for dinner while my grandpa and I sorted the puzzle pieces. As a young child, my patience would run thin. I would want to finish the puzzle as fast as I could and always wanted to put the last piece in. Yet, as I got older my want for putting in the last piece diminished, and I would let my abuelito do it. I realized at some point that I was so wrapped up in my own world and wanted to be first. Then, I didn’t realize that these were the moments I would hold on to forever. Seeing my abuelito smile and finish with joy the puzzle would be the highlight of my day. It taught me to be present and allow myself to really enjoy these moments with my grandparents.
Now, it has been four years since my abuelito has passed, and I remember these memories and truly treasure them. I realize that life is truly beautiful with these precious moments. Currently, with my position here at Taller de Jose, I had a client that truly reminded me of all those lessons my grandparents taught me. Carlos is an older gentleman who I have been accompanying for a little over 3 months. He needed assistance to get to a hospital and had to rely on someone to help him find his way. After multiple appointments with Carlos, we had the opportunity to have a conversation that I will forever cherish. He told me: “Never forget the little things, always live in the present and never take a day for granted. Take it from me, I have lived my life and I am giving you the advice I wish someone would’ve given me when I was your age.” Seeing Carlos’ desire to guide me with his wisdom reminded me that even though I am in a way “helping” him, he was also truly helping me.