Coralis Rodríguez

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Gladys Matílde López



At eighteen-years-old, with an innocent but determined look, I present Gladys Matílde López, or better known as Matílde, my grandmother. Born in 1939 in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico, she was the first girl among seven siblings. She was raised mostly by her grandmother, which was not unusual at that time.

She did not receive a formal education but did possess great intelligence, which allowed her to work efficiently, solve life problems, catch opportunities and be the authority amongst her brothers.


From the time she was young, she had a beautiful face reflecting sweetness and determination. She always dressed elegantly, adding a feminine touch with simple accessories and makeup. She learned to survive with the tide of life. Rather than lamenting what she was not, she fought for what she wanted. She wasn’t a doctor, or lawyer, but a great woman, placing others before her and offering help to all.

She lives in the same place where my family still lives today, Barceló Street in Juana Díaz. My favorite hobby is to watch her sitting on the balcony of my house and remember her adolescence. She reminisces of visiting rivers like Guayabal, dancing in her stilettos until the sun woke up, and other activities with her sisters, Gloria and Santa, and her friends, Zulma, Sista, Margo, and Ley, among others. When not having a car was no impediment to having fun, her entertainment sounded like great fun, maybe because she tells it with lots of laughs.

The creativity of children combined with the life lessons of an old woman is the best learning combination. I remember her kitchen like it was yesterday, the doll operating room invented in order to make a hole to in their mouths to take a milk bottle, the pool parties in the backyard, the “Top Model” contests with me and my cousins, the teacher’s games, and the cake days for the dolls’ birthdays.

Fruits of love…

In this picture, nothing remains of the young, naive girl.  She is now a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, one she used to shield her against great difficulties. At this point, she has struggled to forge a family of two sons, Charly and Landy, and a daughter, Lesvia, my mother, against the tide of an alcoholic husband. Her long battles for a house, for food, for health, her perseverance against the sexist rules of the time bears fruit. This photo reflects her renewed courage to enjoy her legacy as grandmother of a new generation.

Over the years, old age becomes our inevitable partner. But not everyone can feel the same satisfaction of getting there. It’s time to experience the seeds planted. It is time to be spoiled.

In a woman’s most beautiful stage, I am honored to be part of my grandmother.




  1. Wow I have so many wonderful things to tell about my grandmother but I think that I would never do it as great as you did. It was very grateful when I sat beside her and she told me stories about when she was young, like you do with your grandma. But now that’s impossible because she has a mental disease and she only shares just a few words with me and the family. I also really like when you say that you are honored to be part of your grandma’s most beautiful stage. With your description I imagine your grandmother as an example of a strong and fighting Puerto Rican woman.

  2. I also have a grandmother and it is amusing to hear the stories she has to tell me , I always pay great attention. Young people like me can really learn and mature from all the things older people have to say especially what grandparents can tell you. You should be really proud of your grandmother for being like she is a determined beautiful woman that cares about other.

  3. It is a really emotive narration. Most of the people I know have their grandparents and they are always talking about the stories they told them and how life was in those times. Unfortunately I am not that lucky so I really enjoy hearing stories of other grandparents. Grandmother’s are usually the ones that cooks really great and they can be a valuable influence in our life because of the different perspective they have about life. I really love the comparison you did between your grandmother and the butterfly.

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