Quite last minute, I received the wonderful privilege of spending the next two days with my 96 year old grandmother and extended family. I am with my mother, my two youngest children, and my aunts.
In addition to this, my grandmother’s only remaining sister is here, and two of her nieces, and several of their children…most of whom I have met before, but rarely have had the opportunity to spend time with.
Only moments ago, I was just sitting among them, enjoying the ebb and flow of conversation. This is especially interesting for me because my grandmother’s side of the family is Mexican and most, if not all, speak fluent Spanish. I do not… my aunts and mother can understand more than they can speak. So when they direct their conversation towards my aunts or me they speak in English, when they turn to each other they speak in Spanish, or gently switch back and forth from one language to another mid-conversation. I’ve heard my grandmother (or it could have been my grandfather) say once that this is bad Spanish to switch in and out of English, but I like it.
Some people may not appreciate not being able to understand the conversation around them, but I don’t mind. I enjoy the gentle rhythm of the language, and I can tell by the smiling faces and easy manner that what they’re saying is good natured and humorous. They like to laugh.
Someday, I would like to be able to speak Spanish, but until then, I can sit and enjoy those I love who already do. Did you grow up knowing more than one language, or did you have family members that did? What were your memories like?