Leslie Mateos’ life was changed by her Grandfather. He taught her that money is spent, fame ends, but what you do in life no one forgets.
by Leslie Mateos
I define myself as a granddaughter. A granddaughter who wants to be just like her grandfather.
I met my grandfather when I was six. The first time I saw him I told my mother, “I want to be like him. I want to be like your dad, like Marcos Martinez.”
I spent my two months in Mexico following him around. I would step in his footprints in the dirt when we walked to the store. One day my grandfather took me to his ranch and sat me down on a rock. He stood in front of me and said, “So your mother told me you want to be like me. Is that true?”
“Yes, I do,” I said, proud of admitting it.
“Well mi niña, if you want to be like me you’ll have to be a hard worker and accomplish many things in life.”
“Can you tell me the things you’ve accomplished. I want to do the same things.”
Two months passed by quickly. Soon it was time to go back to Los Angeles. It didn’t take long before my father was deported and we moved to Mexico. We spent two years in Mexico, but I was happy because my grandfather was always around. I visited him every day after school. I’d tell him everything I learned.
My parents started having problems so my mother decided we would move back to L.A. I cried for a week knowing that I’d be leaving behind the two people I loved most, my father and grandfather. My mother told me not to worry because even though we would be far away there would always be communication and that I’d be able to go back and visit.
My mom didn’t lie about having communication. I called my grandpa every two weeks. They were short calls, but it didn’t matter as long as I was able to hear my grandpa’s voice. As I grew older I would ask my mom when I would be able to visit my grandparents. She never gave an exact answer.
In the summer of 2010 my dream came true. I returned to Mexico and stayed with my grandparents. I spent the time with my grandpa. We watched TV, took short walks, and I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day sitting next to him. Again time flew and soon it was time for me to return to L.A. On my last night there my grandpa called me to sit next to him while he was lying in bed.
“Leslie, do you remember when you said you wanted to be like me?”
“Yes, and I haven’t changed my mind. I want to be a hard worker like you.”
“Well, I’ve got one last thing to tell you. I want you to pay attention because it something that I learned as I grew up.”
“La feria se gasta, la fama se termina, mas lo que haces en la vida a ninguno se le olvida. Cuida tus semillas hasta el día de tu partida. Si quieres ser como yo demuéstrame que puedes.”
“Money is spent, fame ends, but what you do in life no one forgets. Take care of your seeds up to the day of your death. If you want to be like me prove to me that you can be.”
His words expressed something deep, but I was confused wondering what seeds had to do with me and why he was telling me this.
I simply replied, “Yes Grandpa, don’t worry I will.”
Two months later my grandfather passed away. I cried day and night. One night after crying I rose from bed and went to the living room. I stood in front of the altar and in front of my grandfather’s portrait.
“Abuelito, I promised I’d be like you, and here in front of the altar I swear to you that I’ll be like you. Everything you wished for I will obtain. I will take care of my seeds (kids) the same way you did. I’ll always remember you.”
I feel like I am his only granddaughter because I was the one closest to him. I am my grandfather’s daughter, and I will make him proud. I will obtain what he always wished, making his house big and keeping his ranch full of crops.
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Photo by Jaime González