Remembering my Grandpa


Lucia Zettler

Lucia Zettler, Staff Reporter


He was tall, with a round belly that protruded from his figure, and a rumbling laugh that filled your chest with a warmth like hot cocoa. No, I’m not describing Santa Klaus. I’m describing my Grandpa Lelo. 

When I was a child, I would visit him in New Jersey, it’s hard for me to remember much from their apartment building, but I can still recall the quiet aura it held. It felt as if my family were the only ones there. He and my grandmother owned two cats in that apartment; an old black one, and a nasty calico who took pleasure in only my grandfather’s touch. 

 Once I grew older, they returned to their home in Puerto Rico, and we began to fly each Thanksgiving to see them. My grandfather’s home in Aguadilla was noticeably larger than the apartment back in Jersey, with three bedrooms and a humble office. It was built with stucco on the outside and the floor was covered in white tiles that always faintly smelt of dog piss. My grandfather loved dogs, and even after he was gone, my grandma kept them despite her dislike of them. They were mostly little dogs, (who I had always thought looked a little bit like rats), but he had one sweet pitbull called Colita who would come by when he was hungry. 

Although my grandpa had a full heart for animals, that wasn’t always the case when it came to people. He had a short temper, and made jokes that caused my grandmother to scowl. He and my mother argued constantly whenever we visited, with my sweet grandmother always trying to calm them down. Every evening, as the sun began its descent below the horizon, him, my sister, and I would play dominoes. The games started friendly, but soon erupted into chaos. My grandfather was quite the cheater and my sister was too stubborn to ever let it slide, so each night we bickered for an hour before saying goodnight and retiring to our bedrooms. Despite how messy it usually was, I cherished this time with my grandfather, and when hurricane Irma ravished through the island, we played dominoes by candlelight. 

In the Spring of 2019, he had a heart attack and passed away. My mother was halfway across the world, trekking through the Himalayas, and she flew to Aguadilla as fast as she could but still missed the funeral. I continued business as usual,  it was hard to believe that he was actually gone. Now whenever I go to Puerto Rico, I value those little rat dogs a little bit more because they remind me of his full laugh and those late nights playing dominoes. I wish I could know that our goodbye that Thanksgiving would be the last time I would see him.