How A Grandson's Doodles Help His Grandmother Live A Full Life
Encarna Alés is a 74-year-old grandmother who loves to talk with her friends and family on the phone. To look up the phone numbers to dial, though, Encarna turns to an unusual address book: in place of written names, Encarna's book is filled with detailed and specific doodles to accompany the 10-digit numbers. Which helps, because Encarna never learned to read or write.
At just 8 years old, Encarna left school to begin working in her hometown of Linares, in the Andalusia region of Spain.
"She's had a typical life for many working-class women of her era," said Pedro Ortega, Encarna's grandson. "She was forced to... go and work in a bakery to provide for her family, so she didn't get an education."
Pedro, now an adult, was 11 years old when he had a visit with Encarna that would end up making his grandmother's life much fuller and easier.
"It was something we thought of together," Pedro explained, of the doodles in his grandmother's address book. "She says something unique about every person and I draw it out for her. It's a system we've had for twenty years."
"Every time I'm back home, I sit down and add new drawings for her," said the now-31-year-old. "It's become something special between the two of us."