Dear Papa & Tita,
It’s not too late to be happy. It’s not too late to be vulnerable. It’s not too late to find peace in your life.
You don’t have to take your overflowing resentment to the grave. You can, and you may even want to,
but just know that you don’t have to.
When you look back at your days in Cuba, try to remember the good times, too. You used to tell us
stories of the beautiful beach and the waves that hit it. Now, you tell us about the boyfriend that you
should have married while your husband sits next to you. You can’t change the past, but I hope you can
I know you are struggling these days, but you do not need to hide it. Your family wants you to be okay.
We know how much you care about us no matter how you are feeling. When you and I sat across the
table at lunch in Houston, we talked for hours about life as we scarfed down our salads. You really
wanted to hear me, and you were interested in what I had to say. Not everybody’s grandmother cares
like you do.
When I was younger and visited you and Papa at your Louisiana home, I went outside with my cousin and we
rode Razor scooters for hours until we got lost in the middle of Baton Rouge. You weren’t upset at all.
You were glad we were okay.
Making everybody happy is a tough job, and honestly, you are pretty good at it. You invite the whole
extended family over during the holidays and bring in a surprise Mariachi band just because you want to. And
of course, you become good friends with the band members. Trying to make everyone around you
happy is a wonderful thing about you, but sometimes you need to make sure you look after yourself,
too. Remember that your family wants to help.
It’s okay to cry. I think I have your genes. I know it feels automatic to hold in every ounce of emotion.
But that’s a burden, and I can feel it weighing you down. I can’t lift it off you. But you can set it down
yourself, wherever, whenever you’d like.
Cry about your past that you never mention. Cry about the good. About the things you have that you
thought you never would. Cry because you’re proud of your grandchildren. No matter what we do, you
congratulate us just for living our lives. You can congratulate yourself, too.
I don’t know many people who were a win away from going to the Olympics as a wrestler. And I’m more
impressed that you continue to play in a softball league with people less than half your age. You take
care of your physical health much better than most people, no matter the age. But it’s okay to have a
scoop of ice cream every now and then.
Not many people retire in their late 80’s. Honestly not many people even live during those years. The
fact that both of you were continuing to work hard and travel the world up until a few months ago is
remarkable. You have affected many people and continue to give back to your family and your
community. And you care about recycling more than any politician ever will.
If you feel there’s no one to talk to, think again. Talk to each other. You haven’t done that in quite some
time. You can cry together. That’s okay. Your relationship is not perfect. It never was. But you have
stayed with each other for over 50 years. Eat some ice cream and give each other a hug. You’ve lived a
©2023 Jake Schick