Profile headshot of Ivanna

Memories are a Beautiful Gift

Ivanna, Long Reach HS, Class of 2020

Ivanna reflects back on her childhood visits to Puerto Rico to visit family and experience the culture and traditions that continue to shape her in America.

When I was younger my grandparents and uncle lived in Carolina, Puerto Rico. My mom, my sister and I would go visit every summer, winter break, Thanksgiving break and spring break. I loved everything about those trips. From packing, to going on the airplane, to reuniting with my grandparents and my uncle. Puerto Rico is a beautiful, exotic, and a stunning country. I loved the weather, feeling the warm breeze against my skin. We would never stay in the house, my grandparents loved to take us out on adventures and see all the landmarks and great beautiful places of Puerto Rico. We would go to freshwater lakes, rivers, waterfalls, the Caribbean Sea within the island, hiking on the mountains, and learn all about the Puerto Rican history.

Ivanna at a young age swimming in a pool with her grandparents.

My grandpa would grill carne asada (steak), chorizo (sausage), and mazorca (corn) on the balcony and I would be his little assistant chef. I remember going to the neighborhood pool and staying there all day until the sun went down, or going to the park and playing with the neighborhood kids. I remember going on car rides and listening to Hector Lavoe and old salsa. I remember going to the pueblos (little towns) and hearing the salsa blasting down the street and being so entertained from the street performers. I remember going in the little restaurants and eating delicious traditional Puerto Rican dishes while listening to salsa. I remember walking with my grandma to the corner store and the seeing the stray dogs and cats following us, and begging my grandma to take them back home with us. I remember on Christmas Eve the whole neighborhood going out and lighting up fireworks. But most importantly I like to remember the feelings those trips gave me, serenity and tranquility, feeling safe and protected by my family. Those trips were the highlight of my childhood.

Now in the present, I like to look back in the past and remember the happy memories, spending time with my family.

Ivanna sitting with her grandparents as a teenager.

Now, my grandparents live in Maryland and as I see my grandpa in the hospital bed and my grandma’s soft, exhausted, drained face, I like to look back and remember. Sometimes I feel distraught that I can never go back to those times but then I realize those times will forever stay in my memories. Memories are a beautiful gift that nobody can take away from us. I don’t know if I will lose my grandpa anytime soon, I don’t know how much time I have left, but the memories, I will cherish forever.

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