My grandfather had certain habits he never broke. He never showered. He believed that a shower caused a resfriado. He never brushed his teeth. He used a toothpick. He had the same jean jacket, wool on the inside, for about thirty years. He always wore a beanie or a sombrero to keep his head from catching a cold.
During the last few years of his life he entertained himself watching Spanish novelas para ver las viejas. Whenever I saw him for lunchtime he asked me to go to Carl’s Jr. and buy him a famous star. He would say, “Muchacha, vaya a comprarme una hamburguesa.” As soon as I would get back from Carl’s Jr. he’d ask me to grab a Coca-Cola. “Ponla en el micro por viente segundos.” I would heat his Coca-Cola in the microwave for twenty seconds and hand it to him in a mug. He sat at the table chowing down on his burger while drinking his warm Cola. Then he got back to mirando las viejas.
As he ate his hamburger, he slowly chewed every bite. He probably chewed about 80 times and then swallowed. If he noticed something about his chew he didn’t like, he spit it out onto a napkin. After he finished eating, he didn’t wash his hands. He would get up, throw away the trash and hand me the mug. Only women washed dishes. Then he walked over to the couch para ver las viejas de cerca.
My mother usually placed a blanket over the couch for him to sit on because he always left a memorable odor. Sometimes he got offended, “Ese olor viene de tù fundillo, el mio está limpio.” My mom always turned beet red and walked away. I laughed hysterically. He would look at me with a huge smirk, run his hand over his comb over and giggle.
I loved my grandpa. I loved Don Gorgonio. He was a brat. He was rude. He was sassy. He spoke his mind. Fue un viejito bien rabo-verde. He was who he was and he didn’t care about anyone’s opinion. He was the best grandpa in the world.
In his final days, while stationed at a nursing home due to pneumonia, he refused to be seen by ugly nurses. He slapped nurses on the hiney. He said and did whatever his heart desired. I valued his honesty and his determination to be respected as an autonomous human being even through old age. He never complained. He simply made demands and stood his ground until the day he passed. At his funeral, there were tears, mariachi and Ramon Ayala’s, “Un Puño de Tierra.”