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Hispanic Heritage Month: The important role of an Abuela

Posted at 10:08 AM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 13:08:18-04

(KGTV) — The role of a grandmother in the family is a special one, and for many Latino's an abuela is not just a grandmother.

An abuela is a role model, mentor, caregiver, and friend.

In the house of Adela Garcia, you can hear her playing with her youngest grandson, Wyatt, who she affectionately calls the 'CEO'.

“It’s harder work than working at IBM I’ll tell you that much," Garcia shares with a laugh.

Garcia has been a business woman for 38 years, but she recently retired and gained a new title.

She's now known as Abuela.

“I got to experience some of the things that I couldn’t experience with my daughter," she explains. "And all of my girlfriends that are doing this, we all say the same thing, that this is a great joy. But I also think it keeps you active. I got these two boys that have me hoping all day long.”

Adela says that she has learned what it takes to be an Abuela from her mother. Her mother cared for Adela's daughter, nieces and nephews.

“They will never get what they get here in a center. They may learn their ABC’s a little quicker, the 123’s, but they are not going to get that love," Garcia explains.

She furthers, "The love is what we bring to the table. And that’s what I had for my daughter, and I am passing on to my grandsons.”

At a park in National City, Gicel Abraham introduces her family member, “So this is my grandma Ana Abraham, and she’s been with me for most of my life.”

For Gicel, her Abuela Ana, is more than a family member.

“Ever since day one my grandma was like the importance of education, going to school, getting your degree and setting yourself up for anything you want to do in the future," Gicel emphasizes.

Gicel is a junior at UC Davis. She is studying Aero Space and Mechanical Engineering with the hopes of one day working for NASA.

It's an achievement that she could not have done without her beloved abuelita.

“Davis is 500 miles away and even then I am calling my grandma everyday for that support," Gicel says with a laugh. "Even if it’s not academic, that self-doubt, food, anything. I am always calling my grandma to see how she’s doing.”

Ana, Gicel's grandmother, works at a daycare, splitting her time in between caring for her family and others.

It is a tightrope Adela knows well. It's why Garcia is part of an organization called MANA de San Diego.

It works to uplift Latina women of all ages teaching them that they can in fact do it all.

“The idea that you have to give it all up because you are not going to have the time, that’s baloney," says Garcia.

Adela says that being an abuela is no easy job. It takes a village. And the helm of her team is her mother who is now 97. Adela's mom is now a bisabuela, otherwise known as a great-grandmother.

“They adore my mom. And she’s still the hub of our family," Adela expresses with pride. "So the idea that you have a generation that feels proud and happy, you can do so much more!”

Gicel is a graduate of MANA's 'Hermanita' program. She shares that especially for Hispanics, an Abuela means the world.

Abuelas are the thread that keeps culture and tradition alive. They instill the values that families hold dear. They are the guiding life for every family member.

“I was always having the family close," Ana in Spanish tells ABC10 News reporter, Sophia.

"And for me, I think it’s part of our culture and our family that all of us are together," Ana shares. "Sharing and influencing them.”

An Abuela does other things too. They play with their grandkids and cook for them.

Ana says it's what she loves to do most with Gicel, “She asked for a recipe book. She always say, grandma make a recipe book!”

In Adelas home, one can hear the teachings of ABC's. She prides herself on helping her family members learn and grow.

“For me to share what I know, what I’ve lived, and what I value," Adela gets emotional. "Pssh, that’s the best!”

But what abuelas are truly best at, is cheering on those they love from the sidelines.

“I always knew," Ana says in Spanish. "I always knew she was going to go far.”

It's that special bond that is shared with a nieto, otherwise known as a grandchild, like Gicel, who holds hers dear.

“I want you to know that I will always be here for you, even when I’m not here," Gicel tells her abuela in Spanish. "And everything I do is for me, but it is also for you for all that you have given me.”

It's a unique love that only an Abuela can give. And it's evident as Gicel and Ana embrace each other.

“I love you," Gicel tells her Abuela.

"I love you too," says Abuelita Ana as she kisses her granddaughters head.