Jaime was a very lucky little boy. He lived with his mother and father in a tiny apartment on the corner of a big city. Jaime had many friends who lived in the same apartment building. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Jaime, and he felt very safe and happy in his building on the corner.
Jaime's two grandfathers also lived in the apartment building. He called one grandfather Abuelito and the other grandfather Babcia. He loved them both very much.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after school, while his parents were both at work, Jaime would go to Abuelito's apartment. They would sometimes watch baseball on television or go for walks in the park. On Fridays, for a special treat, Jaime and Abuelito would walk to the corner store to buy ice cream. He always looked forward to his adventures with Abuelito.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jaime would stay with Babcia after school. His time with Babcia was quieter than his time with Abuelito. Babcia liked to stay inside his small, tidy apartment. He always sat in his favorite chair with his fuzzy cardigan sweater and ate crackers. When Jaime would arrive, Babcia would ask him if he wanted a little nosh and offer him some of the crackers and a glass of ginger ale. Jaime would always smile and say yes. These things reminded him of Babcia, and he liked how everything was always the same when he went there.
Jaime's favorite thing to do at Babcia's apartment was play chess. Babcia would always have the chess board waiting on the small kitchen table, ready for Jaime when he arrived. Sometimes, they would talk while they played, but mostly, they would sit in silence. Jaime liked the quiet time with Babcia as much as he liked his outings with Abuelito. He would look forward to the end of each school day when he could rush home and spend time with each grandfather.
One day at school, Jaime's teacher quietly called him up to her desk. "I know it is your day to go to Babcia's house," she said in a soft voice. "Your mother called the school. Today, you will go to your other grandfather's house."
All afternoon, Jaime worried. Why would his mother want him to go to Abuelito's apartment? It was Tuesday, and on Tuesdays he went to Babcia's apartment.
After school, he hurried back to the apartment building. Abuelito was waiting for him outside on the front steps.
"Hola mijo." Abuelito said with a smile. "Let's walk and get some ice cream."
They walked in silence for a little while. Jaime had so many questions but was afraid to ask them. Finally, Abuelito spoke.
"Do not worry about Babcia. He is in the hospital, but he will be okay."
"What happened?" asked Jaime. He did not like the idea of Babcia in a hospital. He tried not to cry.
"He had a stroke," Abuelito replied gently.
"What is a stroke?" asked Jaime.
"A stroke is when a part of the brain suddenly stops working. This can cause your body to work differently. Sometimes, a person might not be able to move an arm. Some people might have a hard time eating or drinking, or even speaking." Abuelito explained.
It all sounded very scary to Jaime. He walked quietly next to Abuelito.
"Things may be a little different for Babcia, but he will still be your Babcia, and it will be okay. You will see."
This made Jaime sad. He didn't want Babcia to be different. He wanted him to always be the Babcia he loved- the Babcia who gave him crackers and played chess.
After ice cream, Abuelito and Jaime returned to the apartment building. "Let's stop by Babcia's to get his fuzzy cardigan," Abuelito said. " Your mama would like to take it to him at the hospital."
They walked into Babcia's apartment. It looked the same. It smelled the same. Babcia's cardigan was on the back of his chair at the kitchen table. The chess board was set up, waiting to be played.
When Jaime saw the chess set, his heart felt very sad. He could feel tears forming in his eyes. He looked away.
"Do not be sad, mijo." Abuelito said softly. "You will play chess with Babcia again. I have an idea. Until Babcia returns, why don't you teach me how to play chess? We can work on it after school. I have always wanted to learn how to play, and this will help you to practice as well. Babcia would want you to do that."
So, every day after school, while Babcia was gone, Jaime would go see Abuelito. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Jaime and Abuelito would still watch baseball and go get ice cream. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they would play chess. Jaime taught Abuelito the name of each chess piece and the rules of the game. Weeks went by, and Abuelito slowly learned how to play. Jaime enjoyed teaching him, but he also missed playing with Babcia.
Finally, one afternoon, Babcia came home. Abuelito took Jaime to visit him. When they walked into the apartment, there was Babcia sitting in his chair at the table with his fuzzy cardigan on. The chessboard was set up in front of him.
"Come on in, Jaime. We'll play a game and have a little nosh," he said with a wink. He spoke slower, and there was a cane next to him that he would need when he walked, but he was still the same Babcia.
"Go on," Abuelito whispered. "You have been waiting to play with your real chess partner. But mijo, thank you so much for teaching me how to play."
Jaime sat down, and Abuelito joined them at the table. It felt different, but it felt okay. Jaime looked at both of his grandfathers, and he knew that they would change over time, but he would change as well. His heart felt happy.
Years later, when Jaime was older, he would go to baseball practice or work at his part-time job at the ice cream shop on the corner. He felt bad that he did not always have time to go visit Abuelito and Babcia. Sometimes, though, he would walk by Babcia's apartment on his way home, and he could hear Babcia and Abuelito laughing as they played chess together. Jaime thought about how things had changed as he got older, and he smiled. The two people who had always been there for him could now be there for each other. And his heart felt happy again.