Delta Winds cover 2005Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College



Rachelle Valenzuela

She is nothing but a memory now -- a thing of the past. Sometimes my mind coerces me to believe she never existed, but pictures I see of her contradict that thought and those pictures trigger memories I had never thought I'd remember. I can recall the smell of her clothing -- baby powder, roses, and an old perfume that I was always able to distinguish. Her face was wrinkled and old, but her warm eyes were the windows to her youth -- pools of dark brown chocolate. Gray hair shadowed the black, frizzy curls atop her head. She was small, no taller than five feet, but she always stood with her head high, displaying her confidence. Her passion was among the roses and various plants in her prized garden. During the first ten years of my life, she taught me what she knew of raindrops and roses, hatred and love, God and faith, and whatever else she stored in her bookcases of knowledge. She was my teacher, my best friend, and the guiding light of my childhood, but most of all, she was my grandmother.

As a child, I would hear my mother call my grandmother "Inay" which means "mother" in Tagalog. This expression was stamped into my memory, and I grew referring to her as Inay. It wasn't as obvious to me as it is now, but Inay was my second mother, so the label suited her well.

Opening the door as I came home from school everyday, I could hear the murmurs of the television and know immediately "Days Of Our Lives" -- my grandmother's favorite soap opera -- was on. The ruffled noise of friction could be heard as I tossed my maroon Jansport backpack against the closest wall and plopped myself next to Inay. We would then begin our daily afternoon routine -- playing a couple games of solitaire, watching a couple more of her favorite soap operas, watering the rainbow of roses in the backyard, preparing a traditional Filipino dinner for the family, and reciting the Filipino alphabet and a prayer before bed. Those were the days.

As I look back at those days, it occurs to me how much those little moments and memories impact my life now. Decisions are becoming more critical, good friends are becoming scarce, time is beginning to fall short, and life in general is becoming more challenging -- but thanks to the upbringing of my grandmother, I'm prepared. I'm prepared to watch my brother grow from an immature brat into a talented, intelligent, rational young man. I'm prepared to teach my sister how to drive and how to choose which boy to go out with. I'm prepared to handle the tasks my parents assign me -- whether it is to run to S-Mart Foods to buy milk or to hold the fort while they enjoy a hiatus in Vegas. I'm prepared to graduate from Bear Creek High School and be accepted to the University of the Pacific. I'm prepared to be a pharmacist. I'm prepared to treat life like a roller coaster and hang on for the ride -- and I'm prepared for anything life has to throw at me, even if it hurls tomatoes. My grandmother was, and still is, the greatest influence on my personality, mentality, and morality -- without the memories of her tired, chocolate eyes and baby powder aroma, where would I be?