Thoughts of My Grandmother: Covering Mexico’s Elderly Population

A monthly column featuring stories of music, cinema and culture from Mexico City.

Thoughts of My Grandmother: Covering Mexico’s Elderly Population

Mar García, GPJ Mexico, and her grandmother

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO — In Mexico, adults use an old saying to remind young people that life can be long: “Como te ves me vi, como me ves te verás.”

It means, “As you see yourself, I saw myself; as you see me, you will see yourself.”

In August, when I wrote a story about an elderly population in Mexico for Global Connection, a monthly feature that looks at an issue from a global perspective, I was reminded of my grandmother.

I was lucky to grow up with a grandmother who was cultured, intelligent, independent and rebellious against the social standards that governed her generation. She devoured books, she debated political issues, she gave to those who didn’t have, and she taught those who didn’t know.

On Sundays, I remember, she would go to Mass and then visit family and friends. She went to museums and fairs. She taught me to travel the world through books and to stand up for my beliefs.

When I was writing about the newfound economic support that people over 60 were receiving in Mexico – free admission to museums and movies, discounts on health care and access to countless cultural activities – I thought: “I can’t wait to get old.”

But life in Mexico is different today than it was for my grandmother. According to government data, more than 25 percent of Mexico’s population will be over 60 in 2050. But the same data acknowledges that the majority of Mexicans don’t have jobs that offer economic stability, and for most, pensions are likely impossible.

Sometimes the economic future of my country seems dark. But then, I remember my grandmother – that warrior woman who shouted, marched and brought injustice to light. She taught me to not keep quiet and to not give up in the quest to build a better future for myself and for my countrymen and women.

As I write this, my computer speakers are transporting me to the past. I hear the lyrics of a Mercedes Sosa song in my grandmother’s voice:

“I only ask God that the future not be indifferent to me, that dry death does not find me empty and alone without having done enough.”