Andrea is my great-grandmother. I’ve never met her, but my Dad made sure I knew who she was. She was a kind woman with dark skin and Indigenous features. She always made sure others were loved. If you came over, she’d give you something to eat. Even though she never had much, she would give you whatever she had. It may just be tortillas with butter, but she made sure you were cared for.
My middle name is Andrea after my her. I even have a sugar skull tattoo on my leg based on her. Like my Abuela Andrea, my sugar skull is missing teeth. She was a sweet, caring, small Mexican woman and also was a badass. She was tough. In both pictures I’ve included in this post, you can see her revolver. Can you find both of them?
But let’s talk about her missing teeth. One day, my dad walked into Abuela Andrea’s house when she was about 80 years old. She had cotton balls in her mouth. There were also pliers, tequila, and some bloody teeth on her kitchen table. Naturally, he asked her what happened. The answer was simple. Her teeth were hurting her. So, she took a few shots of tequila and yanked out the hurting teeth with a pair of pliers herself. To stop infection and pain, she soaked some cotton balls in more tequila and shoved them in her mouth. What? You’ve never pulled your own teeth with tequila and pliers?
Realistically, my Abuela Andrea probably didn’t go to the dentist because she didn’t have a lot of money. Dentists were (are) expensive. But that wasn’t the reason my Abuela Andrea cited as to why she was performing her own oral surgery in the kitchen at 80 years old. Like many, my Mexican Abuela had an understandable distrust of medical professionals in the United States–that distrust became evident when my dad asked why she didn’t go to the dentist to get her teeth pulled. Abuela Andrea was appalled at even the suggestion that she needed the dentist. Can’t he see based on the loose teeth on the kitchen table that she just did it herself just fine? So, she responded confidently, “dentists don’t know what they’re doing.”