I was about five years old when I found out that my grandmother had cancer. I lived in Spain and she was in Ecuador. She wanted to meet me and I wanted to meet her, but my family didn’t have money for the whole family to fly to Ecuador. So my dad left for his home alone, but he carried with him my baby photo to show my grandmother. After a month he called us to tell us my grandmother passed away. I was confused, I was just a child, and it was a feeling that I couldn’t explain. She was gone and there was no way to meet her.
In Spain I grew up with my parents telling me stories of my grandmother. She lived in a house made of earth, without even a proper bathroom. She had lived close to nature, there was no phone or TV or electronics, just a signal radio. She had lived with her husband, my grandfather, who was a drunk and abusive. He didn’t even work. She was the one who worked. But my grandmother still always showed kindness everywhere. I could not get over the feeling of wishing to meet my grandmother, to talk to her, to just be with her. I was told that I looked like her, my eyes, my skin color, even the shape my face was like her. In 2013, even though I didn’t want to leave Spain, my mom and I moved to my grandmother’s country, Ecuador. It was a big change. I used to live in the city, but now I lived in the countryside. Our house had no bathroom, shower, kitchen, or proper windows. Everyone lived in nature. They harvested food and sold it in the city. That is how life was there.
It took me two years to visit my late grandmother’s house. My family worked in the countryside, they worked constantly harvesting the food and taking care of animals. They could not take me to her house which was far away. But then one Sunday my aunt finally took me to my late grandmother’s house. Seeing her house broke me inside, just to think of the situation she lived in. But then I went to the back and I saw a house being built. My dad, who was living in the United States, was sending money to build a house. I was so happy for I knew one day when I started to live in that house I would always wake up and be near her.
But then in 2015 I moved again, this time to the United States to live with my parents. I honestly did not want to come here. I was so mad during my last day in Ecuador. I went to a hill behind my home and stayed there the whole day crying. I felt like I was leaving my grandmother.
Coming here I had to start from zero again. But for the first time my parents and I were together, eating at the same table. I was happy, but I still also wanted to go back to Ecuador or Spain, both places where I felt safe. I suffered from really bad nightmares. But I didn’t have another choice, but had to get used to the idea of staying here.
Then one day I got a picture of my late grandmother. It was really big so I put it on the wall right in front of my bed. Having her in my room gives me calm. It’s like having her there, like she’s with me, telling me not to worry, that I will be fine. Even though I never met my grandmother I feel like she’s with me especially when I’m feeling down and feeling alone. I feel her presence. What I learned from living in different places is, like my grandmother, I can keep going and and to always be humble and kind, just like she was. She inspires me to be strong just like her, learning to live with ups and downs of life.