“From Our Abuelas” (Caribbean)

Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention. He writes, “’From Our Abuelas’ is a series of articles running across Hearst Magazines (Elle, Esquire, Oprah Daily, Runner’s World, Veranda) to honor grandmothers and preserve generations of wisdom within Latinx and Hispanic communities. They were all uploaded on https://www.oprahdaily.com/interactive/a41281402/from-our-abuelas on September 28, 2022.” See links below for stories with a Caribbean connection.

Here is an excerpt from “How My Buelita’s Songs Helped Me Learn About My Ancestry” by Amanda Alcántara (Dominican Republic).

When I was little, my grandmother used to sing me short, unique nursery rhymes that I never heard anywhere else. While dressing me up she would sing, “Mírala que linda viene, mírala que linda va” (“Look at how pretty she looks arriving, look at how pretty she looks as she goes”). When rocking me to sleep, she would sing, “Duérmete mi catirita, duérmete mi catirita” (“Go to sleep catirita, go to sleep catirita”).

After I turned 3 years old, I was taken to live in the Dominican Republic–far from where my grandmother lived–after the family immigrated to the U.S. exactly 50 years ago this year. Call it reverse migration, or going home, but my mother said she never felt at home in the U.S., so to D.R. we went.

During the summer, we’d come visit my Buelita–her name was Alida Burgos Bautista, but I called her “Buelita.” I lived with my grandparents for an entire year when I was 7 years old–that’s also when I became fluent in English.

She lived in a small, roach-ridden apartment in the town of West New York, NJ, but my grandmother always felt regal to me. The apartment was decorated with a collection of large porcelain vases and wall plates, and a huge mirror right above the plastic-covered couch. A chandelier that adults had to watch out for hung right in the middle of the tiny two-bedroom apartment blocks from Boulevard East, a street known for its magnificent view of New York City.

And while I didn’t live with her for most of the year, today most of my childhood dreams take place in that apartment. Her home was a constant as I moved around when living in D.R. It wasn’t until years after she died that I came to realize her songs were, too.

My grandmother passed away a day after my U.S. college graduation in 2012. Because it was my graduation after having returned to the U.S., my mother who still lived in the Dominican Republic at the time was visiting, and we all went to see her together. Then we went to my graduation, celebrated, and one day later, she passed after having suffered from a stroke a few weeks prior. [. . .]

For full article, see https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/a41104388/amanda-alcantara-chula-adaptation. [Image above by AMANDA ALCANTARA and Niege Borges.]

The stories with a Caribbean connection include:

What It Means to Be an Abuela in 2022, Isabel González Whitaker (Cuba)

Encanto’s Charise Castro Smith on Why Representation Matters, Shirley Velasquez (Cuba)

This Miami-Based Florist Created a Stunning Arrangement Inspired by His Abuelas, Marisel Salazar (Cuba)

My Abuela’s Stories About Cuba Inspired Me to Write Novels, Armando Lucas Correa (Cuba)

My Abuela’s Care Taught Me How to Love, Carmen Rita Wong (Dominican Republic)

Why Abuelas Are the True Guardians of Their Loved Ones’ Mental Health, Luz Towns-Miranda / Shirley Velasquez (Puerto Rico)

As an Abuela for All, María Adorno Ortiz Uses a Passion for Running to Inspire Her Community, Emmanuel Márquez (Puerto Rico)

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