Thursday, April 3, 2008

Grandpa Pedro

Can you imagine a large, angry ogre as a kind, loving man? Although these two sets of contradicting characteristics are hardly ever used to describe the same person, I can assure you that at different times in my life, each set described my grandpa Pedro.

“Hurry, Hurry, finish your food, grandpa’s coming!” is what was expected from grandma every night at the dinner table. Don’t get me wrong, grandma Elina was a great cook, but whenever she included bell peppers in her meals, it was impossible for me to even attempt eating whatever else was on the plate. I was never a picky eater, but like my mother, there were a few things that were not included on my “favorite things to eat” list. I hated peppers, and just about any other cooked vegetable. Whenever they happen to be included in the meal, it became a battle between my grandma and I when she tried to feed me. Unfortunately, I was always defeated in the battle as soon as grandpa set foot in the house. He was a tall, gray haired man with thick glasses and a deep voice. He never said hello when he entered the house, but you knew he was home when you heard the front door slam shut. He was a scary man. Or at least that’s what grandma wanted me to think. You see, she always got me to eat her food by saying that if I didn’t eat it, grandpa was going to get really, really upset. She said that he would take me to his workshop and punish me severely.

As you might have already guessed, growing up I never had much interaction with grandpa Pedro. He was always in his workshop building or fixing something. He spent long hours in the hospital and sometimes days at his religious center. He was always involved in the community and barely spent any time with his family. You see, he had a very big heart, and this I know from the many times he brought home homeless people in order to feed them and give them some clean clothes. One time, he even built a small shack in the back yard and hosted a homeless man until he died. Regardless to all of his kind actions, I had always dreaded his presence. After all of the fear my grandmother had built up in me against grandpa Pedro, I tried to stay as far away from him as possible.

On October 20th 1996 the whole family was to be united at my grandparents’ house to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. Two days before the party, my cousins and I had basically moved into the house so that our mothers would have time to organize and prepare everything for the big event. We all slept in one room like a herd of wolves under a cave and had adventures around the house. Playing pirates was one of our favorite games. We always pretended the treasure was in the same room, but somehow were always excited to discover it under the same bed every time.

On this particular occasion, my second cousins from Quito had been invited. They were the eldest of us all, and weren’t easy to get along with. We had asked them to play pirates with us and they responded “NO!”, in an arrogant manner. They always thought themselves better then us and too old to get involved in childish games. After long hours of searching for our treasure, we found the “hidden” room. But to our surprise, our evil cousins had locked the door. In desperation to dig out our treasure, I went for the set of keys on grandpa’s nightstand and ran back to the door. I tried every key and when I finally found the right one, I was struggling with the doorknob. As my cousins hurried me to unlock the door, we suddenly heard a crack and everyone stopped. I pulled the key out, but only half of the key was on the keychain. Right at that moment, we heard the front door slam shut and everyone, except for me, scurried in different directions.
As I felt the tall figure approach me, I closed my eyes and like a defenseless little ant, I waited to be hurt. Suddenly, I was elevated and when I opened my eyes, I was in grandpa’s workshop. This was when I knew the end had come. I looked around and all I saw were tools of massive destruction. There was a hand drill, a few hammers, wooden saws, wrenches, and even a long orange thing that looked like a snake. There were old pieces of machinery everywhere and the floor was covered with pieces of wood. In the back, there was a mammoth size fridge where I figured he kept the peppers he would use to torture me.

When grandpa finally appeared, he was wearing the green sweater with brown buttons we had given him for Christmas last year. He looked like a snapping turtle ready to attack, but surprisingly enough, he didn’t. Grandpa had taken off his glasses, and for the first time I realized he had hazel eyes. He took what was left of the key I was holding and placed it on the table. Out of the blue, he pulled out a lollypop and asked me if I liked the pink flavor. I told him I did and that pink was my favorite color. He gently took the wrapper off and before giving it to me he made me promise I wouldn’t tell grandma that he gave me a lollypop before dinner. We stayed in his workshop for a few hours and he told me stories from when he was a little boy.

That day was one of the most confusing days of my life. When supper was ready, grandpa Pedro sat next to me at the large rectangular dinner table and gave me a big smile. When grandma wasn’t looking, he took all of the cooked vegetables off my plate and pretended nothing had happened. Right before bedtime, I asked him if he would read me a story and with a tone of astonishment he replied, “me?” As he read me my story all I could think of was why this had never happened before. Why hadn’t I ever spent quality time with grandpa Pedro before this day? Why would grandma portray him as an evil ogre? He was so gentle and completely different from the image I had of him. His deep soothing voice slowly put me to sleep as he read me the story about the little pink bunny. As I felt his weight lift off the bed, I opened my eyes and thanked him for everything he had done that day and that I loved him very much. He kissed my forehead and said, “ I love you too mi longa, que duermas con lost angelitos”.


Elina R 6 said...

I wrote this essay for my English class this summer. I loved writing about my grandpa because after spenging a whole summer with him a couple of years ago, i realized that we have a lot to catch up on. It was cool that i got to use it for the independent reading assignment in school because it gave me a chance to go back to it and improve it.