Encarna Alés was taken out of school when she was just 8 years old. Now 74, the Spanish grandmother is still unable to read or write.

Though she has managed well enough, Alés loves to call her friends and family, and her inability to read people’s names in her contact book has proved difficult.

Thankfully, she has a dedicated grandson who developed a creative solution for her illiteracy—and he’s been maintaining it for many years.

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Since Pedro Ortega was 11 years old, he has been doodling small illustrations to correspond with his grandmother’s contact phone numbers. This way, she can identify the number based on its drawing, rather than its name.

Ortega has been adding new drawings to his grandmother’s phone book for the last 20 years.

“Every time I’m back home, I sit down and add new drawings for her,” the 31-year-old told BBC. “It’s become something special between the two of us.”

While there may be obvious drawings to correspond with more common numbers, such as the hospital or dentist, Ortega has even found a way to identify his grandmother’s personal connections, too.


Whenever they sit down to write down the phone number of a friend, Alés picks an object that reminds her of the acquaintance, such as a bundle of asparagus or a daisy.



“On every page and for every number, I would draw a picture that she felt would identify the person she wanted to call,” Ortega told the news outlet.


“It was something we thought of together,” he added. “She says something unique about every person and I draw it out for her. It’s a system we’ve had for twenty years.”


Ortega recently published photos of his artworks to social media where they have been shared thousands of times by people praising his creative labor of love.

Share This Sweet Story Of Familial Kindness With Your FriendsPhotos by Pedro Ortega

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