“A traveler without observation is a bird without wings” is a quote by Moslih Eddin Saadi that speaks volumes to my life. A trip to Puerto Rico changed my perspective on the words “family” and “love”. The trip, which lasted 14 days, impacted my heart for what I believe will be the rest of my life. On February 10, 2010, Luis Vega of Mayaguez passed away, leaving a remarkable imprint on my life.
The day of my arrival was calm. My mother thought that it was too late to visit the hospital and decided we would see my grandfather first thing in the morning. As we pulled into the hospital my nerves began to jump and I had no idea how I would react when I saw him. I was also unaware that for the next week I would be changing his bed sheets as well as cleaning and caring for his bed sores.
My mother and I were not alone. My family in Puerto Rico took us in as if we lived next door. It became apparent to me that the bonds between family members were unbreakable. My cousin, Gladys, would cook every day knowing we were too exhausted to feed ourselves or too preoccupied to remember to eat. Cousin Robert made sure we wouldn’t get lonely, Aunt Norma called every day to check up on us, Omilaly, Elizabeth and Gabby sang songs to cheer us up in the hospital. As the days went on, my grandfather only became worse, but with love and faith my mother and I continued to care for him as best as we could, regardless of the outcome. I observed those who would come visit us and the compassion they showed as if he were their grandfather or sibling. My trip made me realize, families are not only the ones who share the same DNA or live under the same roof as you, families are the people you love. They are the friends who watched you grow up or sat in front of you in every class and never missed your birthday.
I encourage anyone who reads this that whenever “family” needs you, no matter how far, take the trip. It will change your life or merely add more smiles to the already vast account you possess. Don’t only take the trip but watch it. Observe how they react when they see you and the love exchanged at first glance. Then, with that continue to show those you love the same passion. My family is who I am and who I hope to become. It took a trip all the way to Puerto Rico to recognize that without them my heritage, values and the person I am would not be the same.
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