Felito! Escuela té hace tardes! Were the words I use to hear everyday of the week when I was trying to go back to sleep. I never wanted to get up for school early in the morning. My grandmother who raised me as a mother had a heart of gold. She was dark skin, and beautiful.

She has helped people whenever anyone was in need, and gave up everything she had to make them happy. I think that explains why I like to give so much but don’t expect anything in the end, but the satisfaction of someone else’s happiness. My uncle told me one day that she gave him a watch, because he felt sad. He told me she did not do that to spoil him but to make him happy getting something from his aunt.

My grandmother did a lot in her time and she will always be known for the things she has done. She owned several restaurants, nightclubs, in Puerto Rico, and in New York City and once was a baseball manager. The only place my grandmother owned that I remember was a Botanica place where she used to sell religious things. I helped her awhile until her business was falling into debt, but back then I just thought she was tired of selling god. I would never say that my grandmother was old but got wiser every year.

Every year she would come up with these crazy ideas, and made me part of them. There was this one time she wanted to sell Christmas ornaments, and I thought it was a waste of time and effort. I remember I told my grandmother that I wanted to do something else than this, and she said don’t worry Félitَ this will sell. I was surprised to know it did sell and I helped her after she sold a dozen at least. She got a lot of money selling these candy canes made out of white and red beans with a ribbon.

The money she made selling anything was donated to charity. She would buy toys for kids in Puerto Rico for the Three Kings day which is a holiday similar to Christmas in January. She would cook food for her community almost every summer. She also sends out clothes that didn’t fit me anymore to kids who needed them the most. People who knew her called her La Negra, not because she’s black, but for her way of being a special person. She was La Negra who shows affection to people and life. If it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be here today. She always thought for the children first before anything else. When I was young about two years old I was living in a group home, she took me out. I was placed in a group home after not having a place to stay when my mother’s house got burned down by me.

I was only two years old playing with a one flick lighter when it lit up the bed I was sitting on. The family court said if my mother could not get a home to support and take care of me in then I would be sent to the group until further notice.

My mother was on drugs at the time and she was not concentrating how to take me home. So, I landed in a group home where I was maltreated. I don’t remember much about the group, but what I do know is I don’t want to ever go back. My grandmother believed that everyone in family should always be together. She was there to hear my school problems, and there to even fight for me. When I was in junior high school I use to have fights for any little reason. I attended junior high school in the Bronx where I was in trouble all the time.

I remember a time where I got into a fight because this boy took my color strings from my book bag and had the nerve to say I was wearing his strings, so he took them back. The kid was bigger than me so I got my grandmother to rescue me. She came and spoke to the boy, and his mother to resolve the whole thing. When I got older to fight for myself I had major fights in junior high school, and my grandmother was there, but to punish me for fighting. No matter what was happening in my life she was there to help me. She may have looked old but her soul was always young. My grandmother was a funny person who always wanted to make people laugh. She’s not with me anymore she died of cancer in the year 2000. I remember her death because I was there. I went to visit her one-day at the hospital and she was on a life support system, and I was at the waiting room and she passed away. The doctor walked into the waiting room with a sweating face. I knew at that moment something was wrong, and I went into a total depression. When I heard that famous phrase “we did all we can” I ran out the hospital. I ran so fast that I forgot who I was, and I just wanted to die just to be with her in heaven if there is one. I ran to my uncle’s house that lived by the Hospital at the time. His wife was home at the time and she helped me calm down. I will never forget that day I’m sure I will never forget her.

Sometimes I still hear her voice in the morning “Félitَ! Al escuela té hace tarde! Hurry up go to school” and I would respond like I always do, “Ay ma!!!” She was special, to me at least. I know wherever she may be the love we have will always keep us together. It would have been nice to have her around to hear all the wonderful things that have happened to me. Like, the shows I did in Manhattan, and the foreign trip I took to Europe. Well, like everyone says that I know “everything happens for a reason” sometimes I question why things must have painful results. I miss you Ma.

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