I have one Grandparent living and her name is Generosa. When you translate my Grandmother’s name to English, it means Generous. I don’t have to tell you what that means but for those who don’t know, it means giving and always ready to go above and beyond to help someone. If you were Generosa’s child, like my mom Migdalia, she could tell you that she gave her fair share of chancletazos but she was also willing to go above and beyond to help anyone who came to her door.
A woman generously births children
Grandma Generosa Cales and my Grandfather Osvaldo Martinez had thirteen children plus the many nieces, nephews, and kids off the street who slept and ate food in their eight bedroom apartment in Father Panik Village in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Starting in the mid 40’s through the 60’s, Grandma Generosa generously gave birth to five girls and eight boys while adopting one of my cousins as her son.
She parented during the toughest of times for brown people everywhere in the United States. She was Puerto Rican, with little schooling, and barely spoke English, but she had a ferocious attitude to get things done! She ensured her children were in school, well fed, and had a roof over their heads. She traveled to New York from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, ultimately settling in Bridgeport, Connecticut, hoping to provide more for her children than living in the small country town. She had it rough as a child in Puerto Rico and most of the stories I heard were of abuse, sadness, and discrimination. But through all of the hardships, she survived and forged ahead when others might have faltered.
A woman generously feeds and heals her family
Grandma Generosa was not the cookie baking grandma that you see in the television advertisements. She cooked her ass off and sold food during the baseball and softball games at Seaside Park in Bridgeport in the 70’s and 80’s. Anyone who remembers my Grandma, knows that she would pack up their car and she would unload food and sell it while my uncles and aunts played in the local teams. Anyone body that came to the house with one of my uncles or aunts, was also fed. My grandmother to this day always asks, “No vas a comer,” even though she is hardly eating or cooking her calderos or pots of rice and beans.
One thing my Grandmother Generosa taught me was to use nature to heal your ailments. When she lived near us and we got sick as little kids, as soon as my mother would say that one of us was sick, she would be at the door with her herbs, Alchoholado, and gallina vieja for soup. I remember her Alcoholado and Agua Florida rub downs, her Yerba Buena teas, and her calditos de pollo.
After bathing me, she would say a prayer as she was putting the alcoholado or Agua Florida on, and put me to bed. And I swear by Mother Nature, the next day I would feel amazing. My go to remedies at our home are homeopathic and when I need tea, we have Yerba Buena close by, and it makes me think of my grandmother’s healing touch.
A woman ages and her family grows
Grandma Generosa is 90 and for the last decade her health has been slowly declining. On the occasions that we see her, I still see this strong woman, wagging her finger, setting someone straight. I also see the woman who was always trying to help others in whatever capacity she could and giving 100 percent of blood, sweat, and tears. My Grandmother most certainly endured a lot in her life, but she really was something special to those who witnessed that gentle side of her.
She still is and will continue to be Generosa!
My grandmother has 35 grandchildren, 62 great-grandchildren, and since there are still cousins who have not had children, I am sure that number will continue to grow.
I would like to wish her a special Mother’s Day this Sunday. We will be going to visit her and on behalf of all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I will take as many pictures as I can and post them in our Facebook Group.
What are you doing this Mother’s Day?
Thanks to my cousins Elena, Christina, and Lisa for sharing the pictures of Grandma.