Last night I joined Pachuco3000, Chimatli, El Chavo, El Random Hero, Wendy Carrillo (who goes to USC, boo!) and Leticia of Thats So Paisa for the monthly bloguer@ gathering. We met up at La Carioca in East LA for beers and $2 waters (really, they charged us for water).
After talking about Halloween and Día de los Muertos plans, I learned that Chimatli had also just finished reading Gustavo Arellano’s new book, Orange County: A Personal History.
“You’re from the same place, right?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I told her. “Well, my mom is from the same place, El Cargadero.”
“Did you grow up in Orange County too?”
We both liked the book and discussed some of the things Gustavo wrote. I don’t have time to get in to a full review (I should be packing). However, I can say that I really enjoyed the autobiographic aspects. As I learned more about Gustavo and his family, I learned more about my own family history and roots. While everything felt so familiar to me, Chimatli found some things curious, like how Gustavo addressed his grandparents.
“Do you call your grandparents something like that too?” she asked.
“Yeah. I call my mom’s parents — the ones from El Cargadero — Papa Chepe and Mama Toni. But on my dad’s side, the Guanajuato side, we call them Grandpa and Grandma.”
I never thought this was odd. It’s easy to generalize your personal experiences and make them seem normal. But Chimatli made me wonder. Could such labels be associated with gente del rancho? Wendy chimed in and suggested that the labels may correspond to the role your grandparents played in your upbringing. Perhaps the mama/papa was emphasized because the grandparent played a surrogate parent role or lived with you.
Or it could all just be a family thing. So I went to the expert on my family, my mom.
Mom admitted that all she and her cousins addressed their grandparents as Mama ____ y Papa ____.
“Mama Toni’s dad was Papayito. I don’t know where the -yito came from. [His name was Juan.] There was your Mama Chila, Papa Chepe’s mom, too.”
I’m still curious, thus the question of the week.
La Pregunta: How do you address your grandparents?