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Archive for the ‘family stories’ Category

Yesterday I wrote about a laundry lesson and my son. That reminded me of another lesson with my son. I went through old posts because I was sure I had written about it previously but I didn’t find it. Of course, maybe I just didn’t look well enough but in any case, I’m writing it up for you today.

In eighth grade, Tony developed a habit of sleeping in late in the mornings. On school mornings. He would stay up way too late and although I kept after him to go to bed, I was not going to put either of us through a routine of standing there until he got in bed and shut off the lights. I gave him more credit than that and trusted him to finish what he was doing and go to bed. If he woke up too late he would end up being late to school. I would not let him stay home just because he had stayed up too late. However, because he would get in trouble, I did call the school and say he hadn’t felt well that morning and had missed first period but I would get him there by second period. Then it happened again. And again.

By the fourth time, I told him the night before that if he didn’t get up in time for school, I was not going to lie for him. I guess he didn’t believe me because he overslept again. And true to my warning, I refused to call in or write him a note. I just took him and dropped him off, waiting at the curb until he walked in the door. That afternoon he was mad at me. He said that all because of me he was going to have to have a week of lunch time detention. I reminded him that it wasn’t because of me. It was because he couldn’t go to bed on time or get up on time. He mumbled something and went in his room.

It turns out that lunch detention was held in one of the classrooms. The kids would take their lunch in there and they had five minutes to eat. No talking. Just eating. Then when they were finished eating, they had to sit perfectly straight, facing forward, with their hands folded in front of them for the rest of the lunch period. He said it was beyond boring. I almost felt bad for him. Almost. But I was trying to teach him to be more responsible. I was afraid he might not learn and we would have to do it all over again.

It seemed to have worked because he didn’t over sleep again. Not for school.

Then, about two or more months later, he said one day, “Mom you know when you made me go to school and tell them I had over slept and I had lunch detention for a week? Well, I hated it at the time and I was mad at you but now I realize that it was the best thing you could have done for me.”

Lesson learned. For both of us.

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I was going to write a post yesterday, Saturday, but that didn’t happen. I’m a bit slow these days. Then I was going to write something early this morning but well, here it is, almost seven in the evening and I am just now getting to it. Oh well!

This is actually not about laundry. Not completely. It’s sort of a laundry list of things going on. It’s the kind of post I might write for a Weekend Coffee Share. I’m really missing those and I’ve lost some of the people that participated in those. I guess I will have to try to go back through all of my Weekend Coffee Share posts and see who commented and find their blogs because I miss them!

I’m not going to say too much about that unthinkable thing that happen in Las Vegas a week ago today but I will mention it because I think it has a lot to do with how I am feeling these days. I’m sure a lot of you have felt the oppression of a world gone crazy this week and of how our politicians in America seem to be ignoring what they shouldn’t and making hay out of what they should ignore. Incredible. But then again, it seems that the incredible is more and more the standard in this world.

I think it is time to bring out my light spectrum light bulbs because I can feel the depression of the seasonal changes coming on. It’s time. And it’s time to take my multivitamins in hopes that my energy level will improve. Time to take my muscle relaxant even if I don’t think I need it because by the time I realize I need it, it’s too late.

Laundy. It’s also time to do laundry because I was lucky yesterday and today, lucky that it was on the cool side and I didn’t have to go out of the house because all that was clean was leggings and a couple of sweaters. Tomorrow there won’t be even that so laundry must be done tonight.

Speaking of laundry, a friend of mine’s Facebook post about how she hates doing laundry reminded me of a laundry story! It happened years ago, when I was the single mom of three kids. The two older ones were in high school and middle school and had to bring their P.E. clothes home to launder each week. I was also working full time and a part time job in the evenings. There was rarely enough time to catch my breath, let alone catch up on laundry. It seems I was always running behind. This one Sunday night, about ten, I had just sat down to put my feet up for a few minutes as the girls had gotten to bed. Then my son came into the room and, with a less than respectful tone, scolded my because I hadn’t washed his P.E. clothes and he needed them for the morning. It was the scolding tone that got to me. I looked at him and told him he was old enough to do his laundry (he was about 15 or 16) and from then on I wasn’t doing his laundry anymore. If he wanted clean clothes he was going to have to wash them himself. He immediately got defensive and said he didn’t know how to do it so I told him to get his laundry and I would meet him in the washroom and would show him this one time. And I did just that. I told him what to do step by step. I didn’t do it for him. I told him what he had to do. Then I told him how to work the machine and after he turned it on, I showed him how to work the dryer. Then I went to bed in protest. I was not going to have him come in later and ask for more help.

After that, he always did his own laundry if I wasn’t doing other laundry and at times, he would say I should just get some rest and he would do all the laundry, not just his. That was when I learned that it is sometimes okay to “let your kids down” to actually help them rise up in the long run.

What’s up in your neck of the woods? Do you have any “laundry” stories? Do tell.

Leaving you with last week’s “laundry picture.”

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Last Night

Last night, my daughter was invited to go with to a rock concert with a friend. Her friend lives here in the mobile home park where we live and her brother is the bass player for a major punk rock band that my kids followed when they were in their teens and early 20s. So my daughter and her husband were invited to join the bass player’s family in a limo ride to the venue and backstage privileges and all sorts of goodies. Normally, one of them would have stayed with the kids but this time around, they both needed to go. I say needed because they’ve been through some really tough times this year. Some of you might remember that they were on the verge of being evicted a few months ago and had to resort to a Go Fund Me account to raise rent money. Last week one car was repossessed. They were able to get it back using the rent money which now they are working on raising by Saturday (I think they’ve almost got it by collecting on money owed them and doing extra jobs for friends). This week the other car was repossessed and they’ve decided there are no more Peters to rob to pay the Pauls so they aren’t going to try to get that back. I’m in no position to help them financially.

So when they were invited to go she talked to me about watching the kids. She had arranged for a friend to watch the baby who is too heavy for me to pick up while I am recovering from surgery and too heavy for my 85 year old mother. So we agreed to watch the boys and a friend from around the corner would come get Maya when she woke up. It was fine until Maya woke up and the woman came to get her. Spencer, who is four and loves his baby sister, got very upset when he saw her leaving with the neighbor lady. He kept saying “We no have a baby no more, Nana.” I kept explaining that she would be coming back in a few hours but he was still upset. My mom almost cried when Maya left, too. I didn’t feel so great about it but I just can’t carry her. I’m not supposed to lift or carry more than eight pounds and Maya, at almost six months, is about twenty-one pounds!

It all worked out. My daughter and her husband enjoyed their night off and were really excited when they got back. They had stopped to get the baby before coming home so when they walked in, they had Maya who was happy to be back home and smiling at us all. I hope the night off works to give them both a boost in their energy and confidence so they can make it through this difficult time.

Families have to stick together and help each other out as much as they can. At least that’s what I think.

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Note: This was originally posted in 2008. It is one of my favorite Christmas stories because it brings back the magic of Christmas that most of us had long, long ago.

I grew up in a large family.  There were seven kids plus my mom and dad.  My dad was the only one who worked, as was the norm in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  My dad drove a fork lift at one of the local canneries.  The only way there would ever be any money for Christmas gifts was for my mother to save money in a Christmas Club account at the local Bank of America where she made a weekly deposit.

One year my brother David, who was about eight years old that year, fell in love with a toy he saw on a TV commercial.  It was a cannon that shot hard plastic balls.  It was called the Mighty Mo.  The commercials showed the Mighty Mo crawling over and through rough terrain all on a miniature scale, of course, but it looked really neat.  The clincher was the footage of the cannon balls launching out of the Mighty Mo!

David had to have one but we were taught to not ask for anything, not even for our birthdays or Christmas so he couldn’t ask for one.  We lived a block away from Safeway and my mom used to send us on daily trips for the odd supply she needed before the next week’s big grocery trip.  Safeway carried a few toys then.  They placed them on the shelves high above the produce department as those shelves were normally empty.  On one of the trips to get something for my mom, David was thrilled to discover that Safeway had about two dozen Mighty Mos on their shelves!  After that day, David volunteered to go to Safeway every single time my mom needed something.

Every day David returned from his Safeway run to report exactly how many Mighty Mos were left on the shelf and every day, as the number dwindled, he gave my mom his report in a sadder and sadder tone.  First there had been two dozen then only eighteen.  Soon there were less than a dozen and when there were only four left, David was really sad. About three days before Christmas, David reported, with tears in his eyes, that there were no Mighty Mos left at Safeway.  When Christmas arrived, David was the only one of us that was not excited about it.  We all wanted him to be happy like we were but nothing got him excited.

On Christmas morning, we got up and my big brothers helped us girls get dressed and ready to go upstairs to open presents.  That’s what we did each year because it gave my parents a little extra time to get up.  When we got upstairs, David was the last one to go into the living room where the tree was with our Santa gifts unwrapped.  When he came in he found us all with huge smiles on our faces and our eyes intent on his face.  He didn’t know what was up until he looked under the tree and found his Mighty Mo with a big red ribbon on it!

We all enjoyed that Mighty Mo for several years.  David especially liked to shoot the cannon balls out of the Mighty Mo from the top of the stairs in the back yard.  It was a fun toy.  I only wish my brother David was still around to tell the story himself.

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Note: This is probably the most difficult post I have ever written. It’s hard for me to go back and reread it so please excuse any typos or grammar errors.

It was November of 1982. I was the happiest I had been in a long time. My son was the source of that happiness. He was nine months old and was the light of my life.

Then the phone rang. It was Friday night, about 10. I didn’t think much of it being late as family often called at the end of the day. I picked it up and won’t ever forget the words. “It’s me, Carlos. I can’t talk but you need to sit down.”  I laughed at the sitting down part then he said it again, “Sit down Little Sister.” I did. I still had no clue but when he asked if I was sitting, I answered that I was, still clueless to what was coming. “David just killed himself. I have to go over there right now. The police and coroner are waiting for me. I have to go. I love you.”

That’s when the bottom fell out of my life.

I fell into depression for the first time in my life. I took care of the baby, kept in touch with family on the phone and I spoke to my brother’s widow on the phone every day. She would call me each day at the time my brother used to call her on his morning break from work. That was the time they got to talk about the kids and their lives without the kids being present. To get through that time,she would call me and we would spend the twenty minutes talking. It was good for me, too. We got each other through those first months.

One afternoon, as my son and I waited for his dad to get home from work, the phone rang. The phone was in my husband’s office, just on the other side of the living room where my son and I were. I ran to get the phone, leaving Tony crawling on the rug in the middle of the room. Not thirty seconds after I picked up the phone, I heard a loud bang. I dropped the phone and ran around the corner. Tony was on the floor. Hid dad had just walked in the door and was standing in the doorway, his face ashen, his mouth open. We checked the baby. He was fine. He didn’t even cry. My husband said that just as he opened the door, he saw the baby pull himself up on the coffee table, lose his balance and fall. As he fell, his forehead hit the corner of the coffee table. He said he was expecting to see blood all over. There was nothing. Not even a scratch or a red mark on him.

We couldn’t explain it. My husband summed it up. He’s not one to believe in this sort of thing so it surprised me to hear him say, “Someone was watching out for him.”

It made me smile. I knew it was David. Several times in the previous weeks, I had heard the baby cry during the middle of the night and before I even pulled myself out of bed, the music box would start playing music and he would stop crying. There was no one to turn on the music box yet it played. Twice I had gone into the baby’s bedroom to find the rocking chair next to the crib rocking by itself.

A month or so had gone by since the baby had fallen and hit his head on the coffee table. My next door neighbor volunteered to drive Tony and me to the store. We got in her car and she asked me if my guest wanted to go to the mall with us. I said we didn’t have a guest. She asked if he had already left and I said we had not had any guests in months and no male guests in about a year. She shook her head and said, “But I saw him. He was in the window in the baby’s room. I saw him last night. I couldn’t sleep so I got up and wandered around the house. When I looked over there, I saw a man walking back and forth carrying the baby against his shoulder. He walked back and forth, back and forth.” I asked her to describe the man she saw and she described my brother, David. My husband was the only man in the house and he was a full foot taller than my brother and very thin. My brother was near 200 pounds.

Indeed someone was watching over him. And it brought a smile to my heart.

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Irish Eyes

I love St. Patrick’s Day! It has always been special. I don’t know why, but it has. Maybe it’s because my mom always told us that we were part Irish on her side of the family. We used to ask her why she had green eyes and she would say it was because she was part Irish. She told us about a relative on her mother’s side, that was Irish but she didn’t know exactly how it all worked out.

While researching my maternal family tree back in the very early 2000’s, I learned that my mom was right. It hadn’t been a made up story. There really was an Irish man in our family. It goes back to my great great grandfather in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, on the Gulf of Mexico when a young lady came from Ireland to study. She was given a job as a babysitter on the ranch my ancestor owned. Before it was time for her to go back to Ireland, she was pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy. She couldn’t take him back home with her to Ireland when she left, as in those days (the very early 1900’s) it would have been scandalous for her to keep the baby, so my great great grandfather and his wife adopted the baby and raised him as their own. The young mother went back to Ireland without her son.

There are also more than a few stories that say that the adopted Irish baby was actually fathered by my great great grandfather, which is entirely possible. Records show that he was very well to do. He had a lot of property and many employees and more than a bit of a reputation for drinking in town and running with women. All that is certain is that the baby was raised by the family and took his adopted father’s last name, Saldana. His nickname, according to several accounts, was Big Red because of his red hair. There is no record of the Irish mother’s name, or at least none that I could find.

It’s very interesting to find the story and some documentation of it but it’s also very sad to me to read of this young woman who had to live her baby behind. I think of how afraid and alone she must have felt and then how she must have been haunted by the facts once she left her baby in America to return to Ireland.

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Love Never Dies

I’m re-posting an entry originally posted in 2008. I’m in a place right now where I’m thinking about people I miss.
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David always stuck up for me. Always. When I was in first grade, David was in fifth grade. One morning we were got to school and as we walked across the playground, a big kid yelled at me to get out of his way then he threw the baseball at my head, knocking me down to the ground. David made sure I was okay and he got me to the office then he went and beat the kid up. He didn’t care that the kid was a lot bigger than him. He just beat him up for hurting his little sister.

The following year we went to a different school. I was the only one in the class that was new to the second grade group and they didn’t like me. David was in sixth grade and was on the school Safety Patrol. One day, he was near my building when I was out at recess. I was on the spinning thing they called a merry-go-round and I was losing my grip. I yelled for them to stop so I could get off but they laughed at me and went faster and faster. I fell off and no one would stop it or slow down. They were kicking me in the face and I was crying. My mouth filled with dirt and tan bark. All of the sudden David was there, blowing his Safety Patrol whistle and yelling at the kids to stop. He pulled me out and got me to the Nurse’s Office and stayed with me until I got cleaned up. When I got back to class, I found out that David had gotten the kids in trouble for not stopping when I was down under everyone’s feet.

Throughout our time in school, at least once a month David would come home with a torn shirt because he had been in a fight, sticking up for us, his little sisters. He even got in a fight sticking up for our other brother that was two years older than David. David was fierce when it came to protecting and defending his brothers and sisters.

I miss David. I need David. Sometimes I go to the cemetery and talk to him. I took my kids with me to introduce them to David when they were babies. Now I sit and tell him about what is going on with me and with my kids. I ask him for help and advice. Sometimes I cry, sitting there telling him how I miss him and how I wish he were here to help me and defend me. I ask him to help me make decisions. I know he hears me.

When we buried David more than 25 years ago, there was a tiny little pine tree next to his grave. That tree is now huge and nine times out of ten, when I go to see David, after I’m all done talking to him and asking him to help me, a single pine cone drops from the tree and lands right next to me, even when there is no wind or breeze at all. It makes me smile and although no one else seems to think so, I know it’s David letting me know that he’s there with me, listening, and getting ready to go slug it out for me!

pine-cone

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