For most of the years of my youth, I lived with my grandma on my dad’s side of the family, and I thought differently about each side of the family. We have different relationships. I spent holidays at grandma’s on my mom’s side with my cousins, aunts, and uncles.
On both sides, I don’t have a grandpa, so splitting the love between two shouldn’t be as hard as splitting it in four — at least, you would think. Being closer to my mom’s side has truly tested the equality of my connection with different family members, a sentiment I’m sure is mirrored in other families as well.
During the summer, Grandma Norma would make us cup ramen, while my brother and I watched PBS Kids and Qubo, laying on her huge recliner chair in the middle of the dining room. Hours and hours of this were sufficient for my brother and I as children. Soon though, we grew out of the recliner and into our new Netflix subscriptions, and inevitably stopped watching PBS. This meant we stopped hanging out with our grandma.
My grandma on my mom’s side was our babysitter when I was in kindergarten. Grandma Regina had broken English and we never learned Spanish so communicating was difficult, but her love for us always translated. One of these ways was through the food she would make for us while we were at school. From frijoles con arroz y huevos con plátanos with fresh crema straight from Honduras, to her signature tamales, writing about it now is even making my mouth water.
With the amount of family events that go on throughout the year, I feel as though our connection grew stronger and stronger. And with the parties being as frequent as they were, we basically grew up together. The long summer days, playing in the sun with hielo dripping down to my elbows. The smell of the barbeque going and a pile of carne asada and hot dogs to the longer nights toasting marshmallows to make smores on a makeshift campfire or blasting loud music to the point, you need to yell into each other’s ears just to try to maybe understand what we’re saying.
Among the cousins, I’m the third oldest, which means I’m the middle child. I felt alone surrounded by people. Although we played games together, I never really felt the ironclad bond that my other cousins had together. They grew up together; I just happen to be there. My sister and my older cousin are two to three years apart and they belong with one another like linked arms. My cousin already had my sister, so they didn’t really need me. After me, next came along my brother and my other cousin, a couple months apart. When they first met their connection was magnetic — you could never find one with the other. That left me, alone. But that was okay, I was used to it, as it would find itself to be a common theme in my life.