Delia Vasquez Felix was a complicated woman. Most of her shortcomings stemmed from her upbringing. It was not an environment conducive to intellectual or emotional growth. She didn’t have an opportunity to develop things like self-esteem and critical thinking skills. This absence of a good foundation shaped the rest of her life.
I think she tried to make up for how she treated her daughters by being the kind of Grandma she was. Her love was unconditional, her enthusiasm to see or hear from us was genuine, and she had a strong desire to see us finish school and try to make something of ourselves. She wanted our accomplishments to be leap years beyond the life she had.
It’s sad to think I’ll never hear her sing “Happy Birthday” to me again. No more cards that have her heartfelt wishes for birthdays and graduations that were always written in Spanish. No more playing Poker with her on Christmas Eve, using her multiple wild cards and betting with pennies. (Her and her sisters started that family tradition, merely as something fun to do while the tamales finished cooking.)
There are so many memories that spring to mind, that involve laughter while we sat and ate or played poker at the table. Her running to tape her favorite songs off the radio. The time when we were in “Las Begas” with some family and the nickels she gave me to play slots earned me a couple dollars. How proud of me she was when I graduated both Junior High and High School, something she never did herself.
Grandpa Felix died 15 years ago this November. It’s a nice thought to think that they get to spend eternity together, free from life and health problems while surrounded by their loved ones. After everything they went through while they were together, they deserve that.
Mourning her will mean I’ll grow. I will think of the faith she had in me to be a good person. I’ll smile as I remember the encouragement she gave me to use my brains to make something of myself, and that will motivate me to continue to work towards my short term goals that will help improve my life for the next few decades.
To my family–let us try not to let our grief manifest in harmful ways. Losing her feels different to each one of us, and we’ll all honor her in our own ways. There’s not one “right” way to honor her, as long as it doesn’t involve invoking the lesser parts of her. She wouldn’t want us to use our grief as an excuse to lash out at one another. Honoring her should be about loving each other, sharing good food, laughing, and dancing.