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My Grandma Dolores passed away a few weeks ago. I am so grateful that I was able to go to Texas with Eliza, and be with my family to celebrate her life.

She has always been Grandma to me, so I really enjoyed hearing everyone's stories about "Dolores" and my favorite, a young "Lola." Growing up, my Grandma and Grandpa Salas lived just on the other side of town, and so we would see them often. Especially when I was taking ballet folklorico dance classes near Woodlawn Lake. I can remember exactly how I would feel, pulling into her driveway on West Summit.

When I think of her, I think of her house. It was always welcoming and warm, and full of pretty things to look at. She had a little nook of shelves, jam-packed tight with framed photos of family members. Their was a stained glass window, that would cast a colorful beam of light in that nook. We would sit and talk on those printed sofas, with the wooden parrots hanging from the ceiling. I can remember the dining room table with all of her greeting cards from the year, laying flat on the table cloth with a clear vinyl cover on top. And, I can also remember every single painting hanging on her walls- some painted by her mother and sisters, and many small ones painted by herself. Paintings of Spanish ladies, bullfighters, Southwest landscapes, the fruit and floral still-life, and doves in mid-flight. Every single room had paintings hanging on the wall, and it always seemed so comforting to me.

She would greet you at the door, and her hugs were so soft. She would shuffle us in the house, and tell my sisters and I to grab a Big Red from the fridge, and butter cookies or pan dulce from the tin in the kitchen. Then we would disappear into the rooms to play. We knew every single inch of that house, and especially the yard. They had a massive pecan tree, an old swing set, and my Grandpa had a garden with roses, irises, and honeysuckle. Sometimes he would pick one for me, and let me take it home in a little jar of water.

Grandma always wore these silky blouses, and I remember thinking that when I grew up I wanted to own a dozen of those big, chunky rings she had, so I could wear one on every finger, too. She and Grandpa were always happy to see us, and wanted to hear about our lives. When we had to leave, Grandma would shove a king size 3 Musketeers bar into our pockets and whisper, "Don't tell your mother!"

Christmastime at Grandma and Grandpa's was magical. They always had an artificial tree with multi-colored lights that flashed so fast, and a stocking on their mantle for every single family member so that you couldn't actually read the names anymore. We always had tamales, played loterĂ­a, and gave gifts. I remember they would she would exclcaim, "Oh! Oh my!" every time she opened a present. Grandpa would take out his guitar and sing songs in spanish, while we played with our new things. They had those big, fat bulb lights hung on the outside of the house, and kept them up year-long.

When Grandpa passed, and Grandma got older, she seemed so different to me. I don't know if it was because she had a new independent look on life, or if it was because I was older. She seemed so much more chatty, and quirky. I loved it. She liked companionship, so she started getting really attached to these mechanical parrots and dogs. They are robot toys, that react to touch and sound. One of Sam's first memories of Grandma, was when he came over and she showed off her dogs. They were so funny! For Christmas and birthdays, we would all give her a pack of batteries because they burned through them so fast!

For the past couple of years, Grandma was living at Patriot Heights. I know my mom was hesitant about this move, but Grandma was having such a hard time at home alone and her health was declining. At Patriot Heights, she totally blossomed. She even started asking people to call her "Lola" again. She was the healthiest she had been in years, and basically the most popular woman on campus. She was even voted the "Queen!" You know, sort of like prom queen. When you came over to visit, you had better make sure it's not during bingo time, because you would get hurried out real fast. She was so happy there, and I am grateful for the nice people who helped make her so comfortable there.

I had only really ever attended a couple of funerals before, when I was younger. So, I wasn't sure what to expect. But, I am so glad I was able to be there. It was beautiful. I especially loved the time that they gave family and friends, after the rosary, to stand up and speak about her. I heard so many sides of her that I had never seen before. She had life-long friends show up, including one friend that she has been close with since she was a child, who lives in California. They would record themselves talking on cassette tapes, and mail them to each other for years. A man even showed up, who was Grandma's boyfriend in middle school. He told us about how my Grandpa told him, "I'm going to steal Lola from you someday....And, he did!" It was so cute.

After the burial on Monday, we all went to her favorite taco place and ate and laughed. It's hard living so far from home. It's also hard that I moved away when I was eighteen. I mean, that was almost ten years ago. Not only that, but I was really doing a lot of growing up around then. Being with my family, made me remember so many things from my childhood that I haven't thought of in a long time, especially my culture. And, it makes me want to remember them and make sure they are still a part of me.

I'm so happy that my Grandma can be with her husband and son now. And, I'm so happy to know that we can all be together again. I love you, Grandma.

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