Fierce

Five Abuelas Discuss the Happiest Moments in Their Lifetimes and Their Advice to the FIERCE Generation

While crowdsourcing for this article, I realized how many of my friends and family no longer have their abuelas in their lives.

I am blessed to have my grandma Nora (my dad’s mom) and my Nana MaryLou (my mom’s mom) in my life today. Two completely different women who, oddly enough, went to elementary school together. They reconnected years later when my parents started dating. 

Nora loves puzzles, and MaryLou enjoys quilting (with an occasional glass of wine). They both appreciate good Mexican food, listening to Vicente Fernández and Ramon Ayala while surrounded by family. Like with most grandmas, it’s the simple things that make them happy. 

Grandmas are truly a gift, and that’s why we asked five abuelas about the happiest moments in their lifetime. Plus, the advice they have for the younger generation. 

1. Playing outside in El Salvador with my siblings before the war.

Photo Courtesy of Lola Valle

My happiest moment was when I was 14-years-old. I remember playing outside of my house in El Salvador with my nine siblings before the El Salvadoran Civil War in 1979.

It brought me joy as a teenager to be able to go outside to get basic things like food and water without being fearful of the war that was going on outside of our home.

My advice for the younger generation would be to live life to the fullest. Travel and enjoy your youth because you’re only young once, and there is only one life. As told to mitú by Lola Valle, 71.

2. Becoming a Nana.

Photo Courtesy of MaryLou Ramirez

One of my happiest moments was seeing my children being born, and of course, the second one, and this part was a really happy moment for me, was when Chris and Cece, my first grandchildren, were born.

Especially with Cecelia, I remember coming around the corner honking my horn, honking, honking because it was a girl. [Laughs] And, of course, Chris. All of them really, but you know, those were the first two. So I was happy to see my children having children and the feeling of becoming their Nana. Now, I have 36 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren. 

Happiness is so different for everybody, but remember to try to understand and love each other. That’s the main thing. And try to keep your children all together. At least stay in touch with each other. You don’t have to be hugging and all that as long as you know everybody is alright. As told to mitú by MaryLou Ramirez, 81.

3. Giving birth to my first daughter and seeing my family during COVID-19.

Photo courtesy of Eleanor Barraza

The happiest moment of my entire life was when I had my first child. When she was born, she was born with teeth, and the nurse took her all over the hospital, showing everybody. Finally, I had something of my own, my baby.

At first, I was scared because I had never been through pregnancy and labor before. My family brought gifts to the house after I had her. And since they knew she was a girl, everything was pink. Her father and I married through court, and we were married for ten years before he passed away. 

Now, especially during COVID-19 and recovering in a physical therapy treatment center, my happiest moments are seeing my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I miss them so much. On Saturday, the facility allowed for indoor visiting, and my oldest daughter came to visit me with her granddaughter, Meeah. I felt so happy that I got to see her finally.

If you want to be happy, surround yourself with family on all occasions. Go places you enjoy and eat the foods you love. As told to mitú by Eleanor Barraza, 81.

4. Becoming a mother and my first holy communion.

Photo Courtesy of Maria Guadalupe Rivera

I was happiest when I became a mother for the first time to my oldest daughter. I was so excited to hold my baby for the first time. Also, when I made my Holy communion. I felt like I was getting closer to God, and I would be able to receive my Holy sacraments.

For younger people, I like to say respect yourself so others can respect you. Study hard so you can have a good career. I congratulate you, the writer, and the outlet, FIERCE, for what you are doing and getting information out like this for our culture and generation. As told to mitú by Maria Guadalupe Rivera, 72.

5. The expansion of my family.

Photo courtesy of Louise Cancino

The happiest moment in my life was when my children were born, especially my grandchildren. It brought me joy because they’re an extension of me. A mother has so much love for her children, and so much more for her grandkids. 

My advice for younger people is to be proud of themselves and who they are. Do not worry about the small stuff. And lastly, treat people how you want to be treated.  As told to mitú by Louise Cancino, 82.

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