Remembering Abuelo

In my Opinion Writing class, I was given the assignment to write a 350-500 word NPR/CBC essay. The assignment was to write an “I Believe” essay. These are personal essays about core values and beliefs and selected essays are played on NPR.

It was extremely difficult to write my essay, though I knew my topic right away. After reading several examples from NPR and much procrastination on my part, I began to write.

With each keystroke, tears began building steadily, until finally, they fell.

Here is my essay:

Remembering Abuelo

By Alice McElwee

I believe in watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year.

I don’t remember how old I was the first year I sat with my abuelo in his dusty, blue Lazy-Boy recliner watching the parade make its way through New York City on TV, waiting eagerly to see Santa Clause. Most likely, I was there to keep from being a nuisance in the kitchen, where my mom and my abuela were busy preparing the Thanksgiving meal: turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce  and arroz con gandules.

Every year, abuelo and I would watch the parade, marveling at all the newest balloons floating between the towering skyscrapers of New York and the intricate detail put into the parade floats.  Every year, he would let me dunk my toast in his café con leche, and we would smile, because that was our special time together. Sometimes family members would come in and watch for a few minutes. Only abuelo and I ever watched the parade in its entirety, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa Clause at the end.

When I joined band,  abuelo said, “Maybe in high school your school will march in the parade some year, eh?” Playing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade became my dream that year.

When my parents separated and the family traditions that’d become such a part of my life no longer existed, I still had the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I still had those special hours each year with abuelo.

He passed away on December 23, 1997.

I never got to attend the funeral – finding plane tickets to Puerto Rico that close to Christmas was next to impossible, and only my mother was able to fly out while my brother and I spent Christmas with neighbors.

The next year, when Thanksgiving rolled around, the family was somber. It was the first holiday season without him. Without telling anyone, I went into abuelo’s TV room, climbed into his chair, and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Though that house and that chair are gone, every year on Thanksgiving I make sure to watch that parade. Though I no longer recognize half the balloons floating through the skyscrapers of New York and my high school band never got to march in it, I still watch. Inside each and every one of those giant floating balloons are memories that I will always treasure.

It’s still my special time with abuelo.

Though he may not be with me physically, and it sounds cheesy to say it, he’s there in my heart. I can still see him smile that wonderful smile of his. I can still hear him say that someday that will be me in that marching band.

And as each of those giant balloons wind their way through the skyscrapers of New York, I dip my toast in my own cup of café con leche, and remember abuelo.

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3 responses

  1. that was beautiful, Alice. Heartfelt and Beautiful.

    September 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    • Thanks, Pamela. It was hard to write this. I definitely cried a few times, but a lot of my peers told me the writing was powerful and full of emotion. It’s a definite boost to my writing ego that others feel the emotion I poured into those words.

      September 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm

  2. I agree with Pam. This was very beautiful, Alice. And touching. And it made me cry too, won’t lie.

    September 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm

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