My grandmother has lived on 136th street and Broadway for over 40 years. But lately, she’s been wanting to go home. Home, to the Dominican Republic, which she never cared much to visit in health. She has Alzheimer’s disease, and there are days she doesn’t recognize her apartment, her children, her grandchildren. She remembers some things, my grandfather said in the recording above. The song she’s singing was played at their wedding.
Those are some of Euclides’ favorite foods, all traditional Dominican dishes. If Juana and Euclides seem to look alike, it’s because they’re siblings. They live a block away from one another, and they both have Alzheimer’s. When I showed her a photo of him my grandmother said, “Isn’t he dead?” No, that’s another brother. Delighted, she asked, “How did he look? Gordito?” Yes.
Any hopes for this year? Their son Joseluis gives them a hint. “La salud, Mami.” He’s recovering from heart surgery, and has just been diagnosed with skin cancer. He inherited both diseases from his mother. Tersidad, who used to be a home attendant, cares for her husband and son.
Though also a Nunez, Miguel is not family. He is however, from the same town in the D.R., Santiago, like many families in Hamilton Heights. He’s lived here for 49 years. Behind him is his daughter’s Bachelor’s degree from Tufts University. Nearly all of his children have degrees.
Francisco has lived on 135th street for 38 years. He said, having lived there for so long, he sees something new everyday, including vandalism and drug addicts. He feels lucky though, that none of his five children ever gave him trouble. “I’m a homebody,” he said, “I like tranquility.” He enjoys being home with his family.