I pull up to the cement parking lot and park my car in one of the few vacant spaces. I open up the trunk, take out the fifty pound bag of rice, close the trunk, and lock the car. I make my way to the old, rusty intercom system and, with some difficulty, press hard on the stubborn buttons. After two rings, I hear the lively voice of my grandmother. With equal enthusiasm, I ask her to buzz me through the gate. I get into the dilapidated elevator fearing its imminent collapse. Fortunately, I make it to the second floor without a scratch. The creaky doors begrudgingly slide open, and I walk out of the elevator just as the doors slam shut behind me. The nauseating smell of medicinal oils fills my nostrils as I make my way towards my grandmother?s room. Just as I think that I?m about to pass out from the unbearable smell, I open the door and I am welcomed by her radiant smile and medicinal-oil-free room.Aside from going to the movies and just hanging out with friends, I pay frequent visits to my god-grandmother in her retirement home. Although she is not my biological grandmother, I refer to her as my grandmother because she thinks of me as her grandson.
My grandmother lives by herself in a retirement home and the only company she has are her neighbors. During the early evening all the able bodied retirees come out of their rooms and sit down on the couch and chairs in the hall to gossip. If one of the regulars does not come out for the daily gossip, the others knock on his or her door to see if he or she is ok and not dead. Whenever one of the residents of the retirement home has a visitor, that resident receives praise during the gossip hours. Some of the elderly like to brag about their visitors, especially when the visitors are grandchildren. When people visit them it shows that there are people in the world who actually care about them and take the time to go and visit them. My grandmother receives much praise for my frequent visits. My grandmother is delighted when I visit her, not just because she receives praise during the gossip hours but because she feels loved by someone. Every other weekend I visit my grandmother with the groceries that my mother tells me to buy. My grandmother always insists that I not buy them, but I know that deep in her heart she appreciates my generosity and thoughtfulness. In the past when I could not drive to the retirement home, I would accompany my mom when she delivered the groceries. My mom has never missed a delivery and neither have I. My grandmother says that she could take the bus to the supermarket and buy her own groceries, and I know that that is true. The thing my mother and I do not like about that is that she might get lost and end up in a bad neighborhood. My mother and I once trusted her going out by herself to buy groceries, but that was a few years ago and now my grandmother is older and more vulnerable. It is hard for me to believe that I take care of her now, since it seemed not so long ago that she cared for me.
As a child I was put into my grandmother?s care quite often. My grandmother was not fluent in English, so she could not teach me things that would directly help me in school. My grandmother taught me lessons in caring and responsibility. She would always tell me fascinating stories about magical princes who would get rewards for being kind to others and how one should always fulfill his or her responsibilities before partaking in any form of entertainment. I was taught that entertainment is a privilege that is attained by fulfilling one?s responsibilities and caring for others. From these lessons, my grandmother is a key component of who I am. I consider her my god-given grandmother, hence the term ?God-grandmother.? But she is also my God given gift for me to learn that maturing means more than going to school to get a good job to be successful. I am already successful because I know what love and commitment means.