My Grandmother’s Dicho

Winter Prosapio - Canyon Lake, Texas
As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, September 13, 2013
Winter Prosapio

Winter Prosapio and her family endured a series of medical and financial troubles that left them feeling broken and bruised. Ms. Prosapio called on an old family saying that gave her the strength to get through hard times.

Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe what my grandmother taught me: “No hay mal que por bien no venga.”

Nothing bad happens without something good coming of it.

For years I completely misunderstood this saying, this fairly common Mexican dicho. As an eternal optimist, I thought of it as a “when one door closes another opens” kind of thing. Only recently, after a long string of harsh, pounding times—mucho mal—do I understand the true meaning of my grandmother’s dicho.

The first difficult wave came when my first child, a daughter, was born with a heart defect, requiring open-heart surgery when she was only seven months old. Another procedure was needed when she was two. Given the emotional drain of those years, it wasn’t surprising that our business went through rocky times, just when we were struggling with a flood of medical bills. Then my husband started having debilitating back pain that left him practically immobile for months. Eventually the pressures were too much, bankrupting our family, leaving us to start over, bruised and battered.

We’ve spent a few years rising from the rubble of our dreams and hopes, and through it all I’ve slowly begun to understand what this saying had to teach me. It wasn’t about opportunity at all. It wasn’t about doors opening. For me, this dicho is about what comes into being beyond the wreckage at our feet.

It’s not a great sweeping change in my nature, nor is it something that’s readily apparent—even to me.

Instead, it’s the building of small things, like bits of layered coral, coming alive on the remains of our best laid plans. Today I face each day with three new abilities; humility, simplicity, and gratitude, interwoven into my character. This is the good that has come from the pounding surf of the last few years.

Lo bien que venga, the good that comes, is our ability to grow and adapt. In the shattered remains left by adversity, I’ve learned new skills to deal with my rebuilt world. As I grow, like the reef that teems with life, which thrives on what has been broken, I learn there is good that will come. Over time I am better able to withstand the pounding of the waves, and even learn to sway in the beauty of the surf.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hope we’ve been strengthened enough, if I don’t long for gently quiet tides. But my grandmother’s voice steadies my heart. I know that through it all, my abilities will grow in the aftermath—y lo bien vendrá. The good will come.

Winter D. Prosapio is an award-winning writer, communications professional, and a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Her work ranges from personal essays to humor writing. Her column, Crib Notes, has been running for six years, and more of her work can be found on her website, winterdprosapio.com

Recorded by Texas Public Radio and independently produced for This I Believe by Dan Gediman