Monday, March 3, 2014

For My Grandmother: AMA

My grandma and I, unintentionally matching in the 90's.
My grandmother, Mary Rodriguez, passed away yesterday. She was the mother of seven children and grandmother of six...including myself. After a lifetime of living and working in Los Angeles, she retired to Las Vegas not long after the riots. I was about 8 or 9 when she moved away. Sure, I loved our visits during spring and summer time, but nothing beats the memories I have roaming the halls of her old house in Boyle Heights. I close my eyes and I'm playing on her old hardwood floors again. I see the giant tree where the pinatas from my birthday parties would taunt me. I'm sitting in her rocking chair watching TV, fighting the throes of that pesky afternoon nap. Something in my premie-south paw brain prohibited me from ever calling her "grandma." I literally couldn't say the words. Instead, she was "Ama," and growing up, she was better than Santa Claus.

She bought me clothes, toys, games, ice cream, anything I wanted but best of all, she showered me with her undivided attention. Apparently, I'm a bit of a motor mouth and have a tendency to babble when I talk. Ama would not only sit and listen to my juvenile rants, she hung on my every word. She learned about Ghostbusters and X-MEN, not because she cared about cartoons, but because I did. She never yelled or raised her voice at me because I never acted up with her. She said I was her "little pal," which implied notions of respect and companionship even a 4 year old could grasp. She was my mom's mom, my boss's boss, and she had MY back. I wasn't some kid she had to babysit or some genetic obligation, I was her friend. Ama made me feel safe and important. This means the world to someone when you can't tie your own shoes. 

I visited Ama in the hospital two weeks ago and although I didn't know it at the time, said my last goodbye in person. Seeing her in that bed, so sick and frail was beyond heartbreaking. She used to help me buckle my seat belt and now I was pouring her water. It was upsetting to see such a strong and active person (a yoga enthusiast of 40+ years) succumb to the inevitable ravages of time. It was worse to stand in front of my old pal as a grown adult, utterly powerless and unable to reciprocate the feelings of comfort and security she had once provided me. We talked about her old house and naturally...X-MEN. Turns out one of her physicians looked like Hugh Jackman she said. This from the woman who bought me my first Wolverine action figure...I couldn't help but smile.

My grandmother Mary lived a long and fruitful life. She was raised during The Great Depression and saw more world changing events in her lifetime than I can fully comprehend. I'm not sad because an elderly person died in their sleep surrounded by loved ones. We should all be so fortunate. I'm sad because even though she moved away close to twenty years ago, it's only now that my old pal is truly gone. I love and miss my Ama tremendously, and will always cherish my memories of her. Maybe one day I'll leave a similar impact on others when I'm gone. I should be so lucky. 


  1. If you have kids and grankids of your own then you will be that impactful. I'm sorry for your loss, but I'm proud of you for being able to see it how you are, and that you're cherishing those memories the two of you had.

  2. I'm glad she went the way she did. She sounds like she deserved all the love she was surrounded by. I'm glad she was able to affect the world positively. We need more Amas.

    (Also, I hope you've been told "ama" means "to love" in Spanish making your name for her such a beautiful coincidence)

    1. wow, I ddn't know that. Thank you for sharing this info w/ me, especially right now.