We are family


My beautiful Granita at my wedding almost 10 years ago. She died two days later on her 96th birthday. I believe she waited for me to get married before she went.

I was born, bred and educated in Tucson, Ariz. I left about two weeks after I graduated from college when I was 23.
Most of my family members never leave Tucson. So it was a big deal for me to leave and move somewhere where I knew no one. But for the sake of my career and to really grow up and blossom I had to take that step.
Previously I have written about how lucky I was as a little girl to have three great-grandmas, two grandmas and two grandpas. Apparently when I was a sassy little thing (nope, haven’t out grown that) my parents would say to me, we are going to visit grandma. And I would say (sweetly, I am sure), which one?
So most of them got nicknames from little Annie Chihak. My dad’s mom announced that she would be called Nana before her first grandchild (me) was born. My mom’s parents were named Grandma and Grandpa Lisa because my Aunt Lisa lived with them. My dad’s grandma was Grandma Chihak (I don’t think I made that one up myself). My dad’s dad was Grandpa Frank. (I have a feeling I didn’t make that one up either.) My mom’s two grandmas both had dogs, one named Chula (which means pretty) and the other named Peanut. So they became Grandma Chula and Grandma Peanut. At some point I started calling Grandma Peanut Granita because really, who wants to call their grandma a peanut?
I am still lucky in my life to have two grandparents. Grandpa Frank (my dad’s dad) is 91 and Grandma Lisa (my mom’s mom), who we just call Grandma these days, is 84.
I have been struggling with the idea that I will likely not visit Tucson this year. (I was there three times last year–two planned and the other visit was when my grandpa had to have surgery.)
My mom knows that this has been weighing on me recently. She has assured me that I am a good daughter and granddaughter and I go above and beyond with my grandparents.
But I still feel some guilt.
The other day she told me something my grandma said about me. I always remember her on her birthday and Mother’s Day. I send her cards and gifts and check in and I don’t forget about her. (I don’t call her because she never answers the phone.) She thinks the reason I send her stuff, check in and try to visit as often as possible is because I am worried she is gonna die. Does she know something I don’t?
I regularly call my grandpa. Man, that man loves to chat. We always have a great conversation. I also make sure to send him cards on Father’s Day and gifts on his birthday and occasionally an old school letter.
I love my family and I love Tucson. But visiting Tucson can be stressful.
I have divorced parents. And a large family.
When you haven’t left you don’t quite understand the exhaustion and challenges that occur when coming home for a visit.
In the past few years I have changed the way I visit. I make sure to see my grandparents and my parents and anyone else is cherry on top. Family is always welcome at my mom’s or when I am visiting my grandparents. I know both appreciate extra visits from family.
My family is the most important thing to me. They can stress me out and drive me nuts. But they are mine and I love them.