Where our Culture of “Family” Originates


“Como estas Susanna?” she would say, every time we greeted each other. She would hold my hands with her own frail hands which had a much tighter grip than you would expect. “Bien,” I would reply, really because that is the extent of my Spanish. Language, the biggest barrier between us, forced us to just nod, point, and wait for others to translate. But she didn’t have to speak to me in a language I could understand for her to welcome me into her family and for me to feel accepted. She didn’t have to say one word to me for her lessons to have impacted my own life. Her actions throughout her entire life, just being herself, made the life I have today possible.

I imagine her as a young girl, growing up far away in some beautiful, warm place in Mexico that has now been altered by time. Probably, she came from a big family herself, having many siblings, cousins, and her own abuelitos. I imagine it was both hard and exciting to leave her home and immigrate to the United States with the hope of a better life for herself and her family. A choice so many of us never have to make ourselves, so we cannot relate and know the inner strength that grows in someone as a result of such a hardship. I imagine her as a young woman, giving birth to all of her children, taking care of them, nurturing them and teaching them the meaning of family. Teaching them how to rely on each other, teaching them to look out for each other, teaching them to take care of each other, but most importantly, teaching them to love one another. Always putting family first, this was important to her, and this legacy lives on.

Her values of love and family will continue to flourish within the lives of her children, her children’s children, and so on. I see this value built into the foundation of who my husband is as a son, a father, a brother, a nephew, a cousin and a grandchild. It has even seeped into our marriage and the way we parent, making us a stronger family. We tell our kids to look out for each other, to take care of each other, to protect each other, and we demonstrate how to love each other.

We live in a world now, where people are prone to walk away from each other. Because we disagree, we choose to think we are smarter, to think we are superior, and to think we can do better. We live in a world where divorce is more prevalent than a 20-year anniversary, where brothers and sisters don’t talk or even know each other, where when a child “leaves the nest” it becomes a burden to visit mom and dad. To me, this feels sad. Family is forgiveness. Family is recognizing both strengths and weaknesses, and loving each other despite the conflict. It may involve walking away, but never without walking back. You may disagree, you may disapprove, but you don’t give up on your family. You accept them for who they are. My children will know this, my children will see this, my children will live this.

I must give appreciation and proper credit for how this value of family has become so indestructible within my home. Thank you Lenora M-G.  for how you lived your life. Your legacy lives on, and the love you brought into this world flourishes. May you rest in peace. “En el Nombre se Dios.”

  2 comments for “Where our Culture of “Family” Originates

  1. January 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    You have written a very nice farewell to a beloved Grandmother. If your words ring true than one day far far down the road, a loving Grandchild will do the same for you Suzanne. I know Grandma Carol enjoys your letters and calls very much, especially since you are so very far away from her. We are looking forward to seeing your whole family this summer! Auntie Becky

    • Suzanne
      January 18, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you Aunt Becky! I’m excited to introduce my children to their Minnesota family.

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