Abuela Francisca

By F. Isabel Campoy

I praise humor. And wit. They are more than shades of character. In my balance they are virtues, cornerstones of a personality. I sometime boast that I inherited both from my grandmother, just to see if she would drop for me a few grains from Heaven. The salt and pepper of her soul.

One of the most frequent questions I have to answer from children when I visit their schools is precisely about her. “What does the F. mean in your name?”, they ask me. And I say “Abuela”. The tradition in Spain to name the second baby girl with the mother’s mother name, produced a vibrant generation of Franciscas in my family. There were all kinds of nick names to distinguish all seven cousins named Francisca. Paqui, Quica, Panchita, Paca, Fran. Because my middle name is Isabel, all throughout my childhood people called me Paquibel, and when I decided I was a grown up lady, I left my grandmother’s initial in front of Isabel as a lighthouse , to watch for me, to alert me of the new horizons. And I became F. Isabel.

She was convinced that I could love to embroider. Those were the times in which a girl started to prepare her treasure chest when she was still a child. To keep me sat by her side, she would tell me stories from the folklore changing the landscapes, the characters, and the words as she saw fit to prove her point. Red Ridding Hood was lured by the wolf because at siesta time, when she was supposed to be embroidering her initials in the white sheets for her wedding bed, she instead insisted on going to visit her abuela.

My grandmother Francisca gave me the F. of a fabulous treasure of stories to retell to children. The F. of a fantastic vision of what’s important in life. She gave me the F. of family to honor, friends to love, and fascination to foster freedom in the mind of children.

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