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Archive for the ‘family stories’ Category

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.
_____________________________________

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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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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Mayonnaise Sandwiches

My mother-in-law always waited until everyone else in the house had been fed before she would eat.  She would sit at a stool on the inside of a bar counter where she could reach everything, the stove, the microwave, the sink, the dish cupboard, and the counter itself.  There, she would cook and put the plates on the counter and call each person to come and eat.  There were three stools where people could sit and eat and a fourth place in case there were more people in the house.  We would sit and eat and she would keep us company and talk while sitting on the other side of the counter.  Then, when everyone had eaten and when she had put dishes away for anyone that might not be home but was expected to be hungry when they arrived, then and only then would she eat–IF there was food left.  Often, someone had come in and eaten twice since she started the process or someone would eat more than anticipated, and there would be no food left for her.  That’s when we would see her make herself a sandwich.  Toasted bread, mayonnaise, lettuce.  That was it.  That was what she would eat and she seemed perfectly happy with that.  No matter how many times we asked her to eat with us, most often she would sit and wait til everyone was done, even if it meant that she’d eat only her mayonnaise sandwich.

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