Abuela Mia

My grandmother used to live in our backyard in California, in a little house of her own. There were rose bushes outside.

She had a little yellow canary that I loved taking out of its cage and holding. I could feel his little heart beating rapidly, his soft feathers ruffled between my fingers. When it flew away from my five year-old hands and out her front door, I fashioned a trap out of an old cardboard box that was held up by a stick attached to a string that I held onto, lying on my stomach in the grass. Bird feed was scattered around and under the box, and I thought it was just a matter of time before he or another bird came by for a snack, and then I'd pull the string and the box would trap my grandmother's new pet for me. That didn't work.

When we moved from Redwood City to Roanoke, she came with us and we turned our finished basement into an apartment for her. There was nothing better than coming home from school and hanging out with my grandma downstairs. I really loved having her so close.

She came from Argentina and had broken English, but she taught me the magic of arroz con leche for breakfast, saltine crackers with butter and sugar as an after-school snack, and that if you pressed too hard with your pencil, you'd never be able to erase it completely.

We had ten nice years together. Sometimes I miss her more than I can remember her, but I know that one day we'll be seeing each other again.