Abuelito taught me how to roller blade, he wrapped a pillow around my butt with his belt and dragged me in the hallway of the building we lived in and showed me how to move my feet. I don’t think he ever had time to learn to be a kid and roller blade himself.
He would playfully and ever so delicately step on my bare feet and tease “I like your shoes” when I was running barefoot around the house. He thought I would catch my death from being pata pela’.
He would lean over and sing the same song to me in the morning to wake me up, and pinch my big toe and tickle me awake. He had a terrible voice, such sweet sound. I would wake up sometimes with my big toes tied together with a string.
He would tinker around the house with his tool box, making sure the door hinges were oiled and the door knobs were always working.
When he was fourteen he joined the circus and worked the trapeze. He also one time had a hot dog stand and wouldn't make any money on it because he would give away more hot dogs than he sold.
He built shelves in my Kindergarten’s classroom so my school mates and I had somewhere to put the toys. He built coat hangers so we have somewhere to hang our tiny sweaters. Everyone in school was enchanted by him.
He would help me build all my science projects and I always got an A because they were the most original and creative, because his mind and soul was original and creative.
My grandpa used to hide me when I did something wrong and I was going to get a spanking. No one dared to go around him to come get me, even if I had been bad and deserved the punishment. He would wink and tease a laugh and a smile out of my pursuer and convince them I was sorry and there was no need for more punishing. I would smirk at the pursuer, safe behind abuelito and poke my tongue out.
His hands were always callused, and somehow always soft.
He used to wear a little hat that is popular now; my abuelito was a trend setter. It went well with his scholarly cardigans and his buttoned shirts and twill pants.
He liked to eat candy and café con leche really sweet. He enjoyed food, all kinds of food and loved my mom’s cooking.
He had wit and was a rascal and a flirt.
Growing up I never heard him say anything bad about anybody. He was humble, good humored and eternally patient.
He loved to fall asleep in front of the TV watching the telenovelas with his wife, my abuelita, whom he adored more than life itself.
He always lost contact lenses. He used to tell me they “jumped” out of his eyes and he would ask me to help him look because I was sharp eyed and light of foot and wouldn’t break them if I stepped on them, somehow the contacts were always stuck to his fingers or laying in wait clinging to shirt.
Then I got older and complained to my mom one time that he would misfire when peeing and I was tired of stepping on the wet floor. I am so ashamed.
What I wouldn’t give to have abuelito, and have him sing to me in the morning, to wake up with his wrinkled smile and that twinkle in the eye he never lost. What I wouldn’t do to turn back time and hug him once more when he helped me get that A, and take in that scent of coffee and talc and metal that used to cling to him.
I would give him all the arepas he stole jokingly from my plate at dinner, I would sacrifice the pan de acemita that he loved so much, I would make him coffee extra sweet like he liked it. I would sit with him to watch the soap operas and ask him to tell me the tale of the capon rooster (a story that goes and goes around in circles, with no end and no beginning)
I would hug him tight and ask him to never let go, and hope that maybe with that hug some of his ingeniousness, his laughter, his good temper, his patience, his gentle heart, his noble nature would rub on me.
Abuelito was the only abuelito I have ever known and he so made for it, he counted for three hundred abuelitos. My abuelito had no equal. Now I have no abuelito anymore and the world seems to have lost its luster, there is no more magic, no more whimsy, abuelito took it all.