Sunday, October 21, 2012

Abuela Was A Conservative

A few years back I had taken an English course with the theme: literature and secularism, the separation of church and state. There were interesting conversations about how religion and the government interacted in the selected readings. I don't remember anything that really stuck with me, other than maybe Isabel Allende's House of Spirits. Since it was a grad course, it permited the professor to have each of the 12 students in the class do a presentation each week, where they would lead/open up the discussion. During my week, I can't remember what I was suppose to segue into, but I showed a clip from El crimen del padre Amaro, and followed that with a recollection about my father's mother, mi abuela.

When I was in first grade, we had been learning about so many things, science especially caught my attention, and left me in awe after class. I remember the day Mrs. Fuller had taught us how the universe was created. I was wide eyed as my imagination ran wild while she explained the Big Bang. Particles clashing, followed by a huge explosion. I had that on my mind as I ran home and then I walked into the kitchen while my grandmother was getting started on dinner. She lived with my family for a few years. I couldn't wait to tell her that my teacher had told us how the universe was created-
"Abuela mi maestra nos dijo que habian particulos y gases, y que chocaron, y despues explotaron, y que asi se hizo todo el mundo! Y tambien nosotros!," I blurted out, while mimicking particles clashing with my hands.

My grandmother, stood with one hand on her hip, and her elbow on the counter near the dinner, keeping guard, while she looked at me and listened. She had a grin on her face while I explained the creation of the world and us, as told to me by Mrs. Fuller. When I was done, she looked down at me, and said, "Mira, tu maestra no sabe nada," she then raised her right index finger toward the heavens, "el que hizo todo, es Dios."

If I were the person then, that I am now, I probably would have responded with "What the fuck are you talking about old lady?! I just learned this big bang shit from my teacher!" I joke.

In that one phrase she managed to make Mrs. Fuller sound like she didn't know what she was talking about. Mrs. Fuller was the liar, because my abuela was right, I was brought up a Catholic believing that everything was created by Dios, therefore, whatever Mrs. Fuller was talking about was simply bullshit. Back then I was more confused than anything because my teacher had taught me something, but my grandmother, whom I respect, had also reminded me about religion and the role it played in our life, and therefore refuted the Big Bang with Dios. Who was I to argue with Dios? Of course as I learned more, and started to think more critically, I could look back on this story of my abuela, and it's humorous, but I like to share it because it also applied to that lit and secularism class I was taking, and somehow it segued into whatever we were reading that day.

In fact, when I learn certain things, and think about my family or "real life" I think about how interesting it is. For example now that I understand politics a bit better, I see that in the present political climate, my abuela would probably lean Republican, because she was a very religious person. And as mentioned in a previous blog post, she probably would have done like my ex, and she would have gone Republican because of the religious and moral values they carried and claimed to uphold. She would have been a very strong supporter of conservatism, but luckily she wasn't a follower of all things political. She just stuck to Dios and her rosary beads.

I think she would even make many feminists cringe, because another incident I recall involved my sisters and a couple of primas. They were all outside, I'm not sure what they were doing, all I heard was them being chismosas, and giggling. I'm guessing they must have also been talking about boys, because my abuela stood out there for a bit listening to them, before finally firmly saying, "Mejor mentanse a la casa y aprendan hacer tortillas."

I agreed with my abuela about that! I wanted to go out there and say, "That's right! You heard grandma! Get in the house and start making those tortillas! This is a man's world and grandma is our main campaigner!" To any feminists who just read that, that was a joke! This incident had occurred while I was in high school, so I had already been exposed to a small amount of feminism via a class or two, along with what the mainstream  had to offer, so hearing what my abuela said to them, if anything made me chuckle and shake my head, because that just seemed so unprogressive of her. Especially when I think about it now, it's like wow, mi abuela was a straight up conservative who would have been against anything scienece related, she would have been against abortion, and she probably would have been extremely happy if prayers in schools were enforced. *Gasp* Holy fuck rods, she probably would have supported George W. Bush!

She was the type of conservative woman, that would have been upset if I ever brought home a career minded woman, that had an opinion, and wasn't covered up enough. She would have wanted a woman who looked after me, made fresh tortillas at 5am, stayed home to clean the house and who only had the sex with me to procreate. I wanna say my grandma would have had my best interests in mind, especially in relation to the whole tortillas at 5am and cleaning the house thing. Again to the Feminists: I kid!

It's just really interesting to sit back and reflect how certain people and things that influenced my thoughts and who I am. I think back and just smile because of those situational things that can somehow be reapplied to a class or to theories you learn. It could also just be that I'm thinking about mi abuela because I believe it's been over a year since she passed away. She helped raise me, and my respect for her is constant, just like she was for me and my family for many years. I figure what better way to eulogize her, than to connect her with my education, in a way that makes me smile.



  1. My grandmother is also devoutly religious and she used to take me to church all the time when I was a kid. But there was a brief period where she became disillusioned with the church and she relayed her frustration to me when I asked her why we were no longer going to church.

    She said: "Because all they want is my money!"

    That had a profound impact on me. I think I was around 8, probably younger but that stuck with my the rest of my life. My grandma no longer wanted to go to church because she saw them as the leeches they were, sucking the elderly dry for every penny they have. At least, that's the way I interpreted it over the years.

    She doesn't know it but she planted the seed to my atheism and I am very grateful for it. You're not supposed to question the church...or authority. But I had elders who did and that was passed down to me. Somos troublemakers.

    Now, today, my grandma is still very religious. I think she knows I'm an atheist but if she does she never lets on. I've never shown her the tattoo of Satan I have on the inside of my arm, out of respect. :)

    Anyway, props to your abuela and all abuelas that try to teach us lessons - sometimes that wisdom gets skewed but we are grateful for it anyway. At least in our cases.

  2. Very good point about how that wisdom can get skewed. Thanks for sharing your experience.