Archive for the ‘family stories’ Category

[This was first posted on this blog on August 27, 2007.]

Last week my youngest daughter was leaving on a trip to New York and Washington, D.C. I was supposed to take her to the airport (about an hour and ten minutes from home) but I wasn’t feeling well. I called my older daughter at work and she left work an hour early to drive us. However, the younger daughter, Susie, wasn’t ready on time. She was so late getting ready that we left home a full hour and a half later than we had planned. Were it not for my older daughter driving, Susie would have missed her flight, but because her sister drives fast, we made it to the airport in under an hour. Although it was twenty minutes til take-off, Susie made it through check-in, security, and to the gate before the flight left.

Tina, my older daughter, was good about it and only complained once, saying that had we known Susie was going to be so late, she could have worked the extra hour. I agreed. Once we got the “okay call” from Susie and we knew she was on the flight, Tina and I needed to eat. Because it was late, after nine, we knew there would not be a lot of choices open to us in the Oakland area, at least not in any neighborhoods we wanted to visit. I suggested that we take the Bay Bridge into San Francisco instead of the Richmond Bridge toward home. I joked that at the very least, I could get us to the 24 hour Mel’s Diner on Lombard or the 24 hour IHOP. While on the bridge, I noticed Fisherman’s Wharf in the distance and suggested we try Pier 39 where I knew there was a Hard Rock Café. My daughter loves to eat at the Hard Rock and has eaten at about 20 of their international locations. I figured it would be a treat to thank her for leaving work early and driving us to the airport. I knew she had never been to this particular location and that she would love to add one more souvenir glass to her Hard Rock wall.

We found the restaurant easily and the parking lot across from Pier 39. We rushed ahead of a group of slow walking tourists because we only had about 45 minutes until the restaurant closed. I had a funny feeling, you know, the kind that tells you something is wrong but you don’t know what. We were seated right away and ordered our food and drinks. Without much waiting, our food arrived and we ate and had a nice chat. Tina told me about some of the people at work and some of the hotel guests she has checked into the resort hotel where she works. We had a very nice time at dinner.

When it was time to leave, I realized I didn’t have the parking ticket to have it validated. She said it wasn’t a big deal, I had probably left it in the car so we walked back to the parking lot. No parking ticket in the car. We would have to pay the maximum, thirty dollars. Not good when I was already regretting having splurged on the dinner! She was stubborn and insisted they would give us a discount or the real rate if we showed them the receipt from the dinner. I didn’t think so. I was right. The attendant, in barely understandable English, said we’d have to walk back to the restaurant and get a validation then come back and he’d talk to the manager and see if they could discount the rate. My stubborn daughter insisted that she wasn’t going to walk “way back to the restaurant in the freezing cold” and that there must be someone she could talk to about it. Yes, she got part of her stubborn genes from me but she also got her father’s stubborness so she has a “double stubborn whammy”! She kept arguing with the attendant who finally told her to park on the side then he left. We assumed he was coming back. He didn’t. We waited twenty minutes. He didn’t come back. Tina was really upset. She tried to pay the maximum with her credit card but we didn’t have a ticket so the machine could not process it. She wanted to drive through the arm across the exit and just leave. Not a good idea, I told her. It was my car. There were police around. I told her “don’t do it” because we wouldn’t get more than twenty feet away without the cops following us and then we’d both be in trouble, not to mention my car would be damaged. She drove around the lot hoping to find someone else’s lost ticket. She even tried pushing the button at the entrance to get a new ticket. No luck. I finally convinced her to let me walk to the office to get some help. She drove me to the office where we ran into a police man and we explained we needed to get out but had no ticket. She was all smiles for him! He got an attendant to come out and we paid the maximum (my cash which we really couldn’t afford at the end of the month) and left. She didn’t speak to me the rest of the way home except to mutter under her breath, “Next time give me the ticket.” Actually, it is common practice for someone else to carry the ticket because they get lost in my huge purse. I didn’t dare tell her that for fear she’d bite my head off or drive the car over the Golden Gate Bridge!

At least we both now have fresh San Francisco Hard Rock Café souvenir glasses. Not all was lost.

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[This is from a collection of memoir short stories I’ve written.  This has not been shared previously.  I hope you enjoy.]

We sat at the table after we were all finished with our dinner. My mom and dad said they wanted to talk to us. There had been something wrong with my mother since she picked us up at Ben and Mamie’s house after she got back from the doctor. My mother never went anywhere without us except when she went to the doctor. When she did that, she would leave us across the street with Ben and Mamie. Ben and Mamie were old. They sat on their front porch every day, all day long. They had grown up kids and some grand kids but none of them ever came to visit so Ben and Mamie liked it when we visited them. They were always very nice to us. Sometimes Ben would come over to our house to talk to our father and they would sit and talk and sometimes, when my father was at work and my mom needed something, she’d call Ben and Mamie and Ben would come over to help with whatever my mom needed. Mamie never came over. We only waved at her from across the street or talked to her when we went to sit on the porch with them so my mother could talk to them. So when my mom left us there to go to the doctor, we were glad to go. We got to play with toys that had belonged to their kids a long, long time ago. They kept them in the basement. That day we had played and talked and Mamie gave us sandwiches and lemonade. She called them sanweeches and limonada. After we played and watched cartoons for a long time my mother got there and she looked like there was something wrong. She didn’t sit and talk with Ben and Mamie. She didn’t even look at them. She just said it was time to go because she was late cooking dinner and my father would be home soon. She thanked them and reminded us to thank them, too. There were no smiles on my mother’s face that day. Her voice was funny, not the same as it usually was. She didn’t look at anyone, only at the ground. Then we walked back to our side of the street. My sisters and I went to play in the back yard where our brothers were. They were older so they didn’t have to go to Ben and Mamie’s but they could not take care of us, either. My mother went up the front steps and inside the front door to start cooking. When we ate dinner, my mother and my father didn’t talk to us. They didn’t talk to each other, either. Just us kids talked. We talked a lot, like normal. When we talked to our mother to ask a question, she didn’t seem to hear us. Her eyes were wet but there weren’t tears so I knew she wasn’t crying.

When we finished dinner my mother said she and my father had to talk to us about something important. We sat and looked at our mother and father, waiting for them to tell us something. She said that the doctor had told her something that we all had to know. She had already told our father and now we had to know. I looked at my brothers and sisters and I thought she was going to say that we were going to have another little baby in the family. That’s what had happened before, when the doctor told her about Irene and Gilda so I knew that we were going to have a new baby.

“The doctor says that I am very sick and I am going to die,” said my mother. She waited for us to say something. I didn’t know what it meant. I was four. What was going to happen to my mom? I looked around and I knew the others didn’t know either. Even Carlos didn’t know. He was nine. He was the oldest.

“What does that mean? What is going to happen to you?” I asked her.

“Dying,” she said, “is like going to sleep but you never wake up. You can’t wake up ever. You can’t talk, or walk, or eat, or drink. You can’t take care of anyone. You are just asleep.”

That didn’t sound too bad to me. I liked to sleep in the mornings. I didn’t like to get up when my brothers and sister went to school. It was hard for me to fall asleep at night because there was still so much going on in the house and I just didn’t want to miss any of it. That was the hard part but once I was asleep, that was easy. I could sleep a long, long time so I didn’t know why my mother didn’t want to be asleep for a long time.

“That’s okay, Mommy. We’ll take care of you when you sleep. Don’t worry. You can rest and sleep as long as you want. We’ll be okay. We’ll come wake you up when you have slept a long, long time,” I told her and I hugged her.

“No. I won’t be here when I die,” she hugged me back and I could hear in her voice that she was going to cry.

“When some one dies, they don’t wake up. When a person dies, they are put in a big box and buried in the ground. I won’t be here when I die. I won’t be able to take care of you.” She wiped tears from her face and explained that we would not have a mother any more. We would have to be good to each other and take care of each other, and mind our father. We would have to take care of our father, too.

We were all crying by then. None of us moved. No one got up from the table. I looked at my father and he was crying too. He had picked my little sister up and was giving her a bottle but he was crying. I had never seen my father cry before. Finally, it was dark outside and we just went to bed. No one wanted to watch the television. No one wanted to play hide and seek outside. We just went to bed and I could hear crying until I fell asleep. That weekend, we tried not to cry. We tried to have fun and not be sad but when one of us thought about my mother dying, the crying would start all over again.. We didn’t understand it. We just knew that things would not be the same. Our mother was going away. I was not going to have a mother any more. I wondered if she was mad at us. Maybe she wanted to sleep for a long time and go in a box and go away. I just knew I wanted my mommy to stay in our house with us, even if she was asleep.

After a few days, my mother changed and she didn’t cry any more. She was happy again. She was laughing a lot and smiling a lot, even when there was nothing to laugh at or smile at. She smiled all the time now. We were glad she was happy again but we couldn’t understand how she could be happy to be dying and leaving us. Maybe she had decided she wanted to die so she could get away from us. Lots of days and weeks passed and I waited for my mother to die. She didn’t die. One day I forgot and I went back to being a happy little girl, just in time for my next birthday.

A long time later, years later, I found out that the doctor had given my mother the wrong test results. He had taken the tests again and they were normal. She was healthy. She knew it. My father knew it. Only they forgot to tell us.

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While commenting on a blog post the other week, I was reminded of the time my daughter would not cooperate with the dentist.  She was about five.  It was the year she began kindergarten.  I had taken her and her brother, who was about 8, to the dentist for a check up.  Tony cooperated beautifully.  Tina not so much.  It took a second then a third visit to get the x-ray film in her mouth.  On the third visit, I was the one that held the film in her mouth.  The technician gave me the little button to depress to take the picture because by then we had all figured out that she would only let me anywhere near her mouth.

The x-ray revealed that Tina had two cavities.  Her brother had one cavity and did a great job of letting the dentist work on his mouth.  We figured that would help to get Tina to cooperate.  We all made a big deal about Tony being so brave and he got a special treat (a trip to the toy store to pick out a much wanted toy) after the visit.

Then it came time for Tina’s appointment.  She went.  We sat in the waiting room and then were ushered back to the treatment room.  As soon as the dentist walked in, Tina curled up, sticking her head deep against her chest.  Nothing either then dentist or I did could get her to uncurl so he could work on her mouth.  The dentist let her play with his instruments and ask questions and brought toys in to the room for her.  Nothing worked.  Thirty minutes later, we left with no work having been done.  I made another appointment.  This time, the dentist gave me a prescription for a sedative to give to Tina when we left the house for the dentist’s office.  This sedative would take effect by the time of her appointment and the doctor would be able to fill her two cavities. Perfect plan.

The morning arrived.  Tina was very cooperative.  She took the cherry flavored sedative and we left the house for the dentist’s office.  When we got there, she was so sedated that she could not walk.  I had to carry her in, which was no easy feat.  Although she was only five, she weighed  about 65 pounds!  The doctor was ready and they took her in right away.  She was so out of it that it was funny.   She was half asleep.  The doctor and I looked at each other, relieved.  She would finally get her fillings done.  Tina was all sleepy and then smiley and happy and sleepy again.  As soon as the doctor pulled her cheek and raised the hypodermic to put her mouth to sleep, Tina slapped his hand and he ended up injecting his own hand, instantly numbing it.  So much for that visit.  He couldn’t do anything with a numb hand and was forced to cancel his next appointment, too.

Once at home, Tina’s dad and I had a long talk with her.  She promised she would let the dentist work on her mouth.    So we tried again.  This time, before we even left for the appointment, she refused to get in the car.  I didn’t want to waste the doctor’s time again so I called and rescheduled.  Then I issued an ultimatum.  Either she cooperated with the dentist to get her cavities filled or she would not be allowed to go trick-or-treating the following week.  She agreed.  When we got to the dentist for the next appointment, again she refused to open her mouth.  I reminded her about the trick-or-treating.  She said she would open her mouth.  She did but only long enough to bite down hard on the dentist’s hand!

That was the year that Tina missed trick-or-treating.  I tried and tried to give her another chance before Halloween.  The dentist even helped out saying that he would squeeze her in for an appointment if she agreed so she could get the work done before trick-or-treating.  Tina didn’t budge.   In the end, she just flat out refused and we were pretty tired of the whole thing so I followed through and she did not go trick-or-treating when her brother went.  She stayed home.

Eventually, once she turned 6 in January, she sort of grew up and agreed to let the dentist work on her mouth and she got the cavities filled.

Keeping her from trick-or-treating was one of the most difficult things I had done as a parent, to that point, but it had to be done.

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One of the most exotic acquisitions during this time period was a Jaguar–not the kind that eats and prowls and growls–but the kind with four wheels that moved as sleek as a cat and purred like a kitten.  It was a beautiful car.  The cream colored beauty had matching leather interior with highly glossed wood paneling, inside and out.  The steering wheel was on the right hand side.  Of all the things he ever bought or bartered, this was the one we all hoped my dad would keep and the one we all missed when he sold it two days later.  He apologized to us explaining that he couldn’t resist the buyer’s offer of a cash 500% profit.

My personal favorite of my dad’s deals was a white Honda 90 motorcycle.  I loved it.  It became mine.  I was 15 and there was talk that when I turned 16 I would get my license on the Honda 90.  We lived on a cul-de-sac with very little traffic so I was allowed to drive it up and down the street.  I loved feeling the wind blowing through my long dark hair (even though I was only going about 35 or 40 mph).  Unfortunately, I never got my license on that motorcycle.  I ruined my chances of that one early summer evening, four months shy of turning 16.  I persuaded my sister, Irene (aka The Drama Queen) to go down the street on the motorcycle with me.  There were three boys who lived down the street.  They were all cute.  They were a few years older than us but they always smiled and flirted with us when we went by.  I had seen them in the window when I had driven by earlier so I knew they were there.  When Irene and I go to their house, I turned toward the window where they stood and smiled, tilting my head in a greeting.  When my eyes returned to the road, I realized that the STOP sign was much closser than I had thought.  I hit the brakes so hard that the motorcylce flipped and threw Irene and me  into the air.  Irene claimed not to be able to walk or even get up.  Although my legs and arms were cut and skinned, I picked her up and put her on the curb then I picked up the motorcycle but I couldn’t get it started so I ended up walking it up the hill (and it was a steep hill) to our house.  When I got home, my mom and dad were in the front yard and they asked what happened.  I told them we had flipped over and they asked where Irene was.  I told them she was on the curb because she couldn’t walk up the hill so they both panicked and jumped in my dad’s car to drive down and get her.  I was upset at my parents because they left me bleeding to go get Irene.  And I was more upset at the boys we were trying to impress because they had seen us flip over and knew we were hurt and they didn’t even come to see if we were okay.  The Jerks.  Needless to say, my mother persuaded my father to get rid of the Honda before one of us got killed on it (her words, not mine).  Losing that motorcycle was one of the worst things that had happened to me in my almost 16 years.

Of course there were some deals that we all regretted.  One was a very expensive and beautiful red headed macaw parrot that got sick and died within 48 hours of coming home with my dad.  Then there was the piano my dad brought home.  Apparently, he had always dreamed of having a piano so he made a trade for an upright piano that was in bad condition.  The wood needed to be refinished and it was out of tune.  Then there was the fact that no one in the house played the piano and none of  us had any  intention of learning to play.   So it sat in the garage for the better part of a year and my dad eventually had to pay someone to come and take it away.  There were also some bad scenes and rude phone calls with disgruntled customers but my dad always seemed to be able to smooth things out without it becoming ugly.

Through his wheeling and dealing, we were able to enjoy and experience a lot of things that would not have been open to us if my dad had not been forced into this mode of supporting our family by his work injury.

These years also gave birth to a variety of hobbies which began as one of my dad’s deals.  After acquiring a hand gun through a trade, my father’s interest in guns and rifles grew to the point where he was actively seeking deals that involved weapons.  He ended up with at least a half a dozen hand guns and three or four rifles.  Dad got so involved with guns that he proudly showed off his collection to anyone who came to the house, including my sisters’ boyfriends who, while not having to listen to a lecture on how to treat his daughters, paid for it dearly by having to listen to him explain all about the history of each weapon, including how to care for it and how much damage it could do when used.  Most of the boys never came to the house more than once.  I was smart.  I never brought any boys home.  I was not about to put anyone through that show!

One of the benefits gained was that my father’s lack of income and the size of our family made it possible for me to get a full four year scholarship when I was accepted to Stanford University.  Now I call THAT a bonus!

We learned a lot during those hard years.  We learned that if we are resourceful we will always land on our feet.  We learned “si se puede” and we learned to stick together as a family.

And as my dad is so fond of saying, “no hay mal que por bien no venga.”

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Over the next three years, my father was sent to specialist after specialist.  We lived in San Jose, less than an hour from San Francisco.  He had to go to UC San Francisco Medical Center for a series of treatments.  The visits to the clinic took all day.  He couldn’t go alone so we took turns going with him and mostly, waiting in the car all day.  There were hearings and visits to psychologists, physical therapists, surgeons, and lawyers.  My dad was never able to return to work and it was finally agreed, by the experts, that he was permanently disabled.  The State Rehabilitation Department decided that they could not retrain him to do any kind of work so at the age of 37, he was declared disabled.

Battling the Social Security Department was another long trip which took many years.  If memory serves, by the time his Social Security benefits kicked in, I was in college and it was around 1975.

Our family life changed drastically.  There were still six of us kids living at home, four of us completely dependent on my father.  My mother had never worked outside the home and having dropped out of school in seventh grade, had no marketable skills. My older brothers contributed everything they could from their part time, minimum wage jobs.  My oldest brother dropped out of college after the first semester so he could work full time.

My parents have both always been very proud; too proud to go on Welfare or any kind of state aid.  He did finally give in to accepting food stamps and medi-cal benefits to keep us fed and to get medicine for my sister who had developed medical problems.  There was no cash income as his Social Security benefits had not yet kicked in and the small amount he got for state disability was not much help.  My sisters and I did what we could, babysitting in the neighborhood, so we could buy our own clothes and shoes and what we might need at school.  Even so, we couldn’t afford a lot.  We went without.

It was very difficult to see what the whole situation did to my father.  He started drinking even more heavily than he had before the accident and he began to mix his liquor with his prescription pain killers.  He felt ashamed of not being able to provide for his family.

These were also very interesting times and in a way, very inspirational.  Because we had no income, my Dad had to resort to his hidden talents.  The most productive of these being his ability to talk people into almost anything he wanted to talk them into or out of.  This manifest itself primarily in my dad making a living by buying something very cheaply then turning around and selling it at a substantial profit.  We never knew what my father would find to make us money by browsing the “magic mini ads” which were free two line ads in the local newspaper.

Once, my dad bought a portable bar which held and tapped a keg of beer.  He kept it for one week before he sold it at 100% profit.  With the profit, he bought himself another portable bar which he kept for himself and a portable sauna.  The sauna was traded the following day.  The trade yielded a talking parrot and a 25 gallon aquarium, complete with exotic fish.  He sold the parrot and traded the aquarium.  The deals yielded him in excess of 150% profit plus a yellow headed parrot.

This parrot was very young and did not yet talk.  My three sisters and I took care of that very soon.  We placed the cage on the counter next to the telephone and within a couple of weeks, he was talking.  We had taught him to say “hello,”  “how are you,” and his name, “Loco.”  He used to go crazy saying “poco loco coco” over and over and over again.  Although he was the family pet, I grew very close to him and all these years later, I wish I still had my Loco.  I cried when we had to sell him a year later.  We needed the money.

Another time, my dad surprised us by coming home with a huge metal cage which held a very large and heavily sedated monkey.  The monkey’s name was Jimmy and he was a Macaque (pronounced MaKayk).  Jimmy was so close to being human that it was frightening.  He acted like a baby when he wanted to get his way.  If it didn’t work, he’d throw a tantrum, like a two year old.  He would grab a hold of his cage and shake it from side to side, almost knocking it over.  Those times were pretty scary.  What would happen if he escaped from the cage during one of his tantrums?

Jimmy was capable of escaping from the cage.  He proved this to us on a number of occasions.  Once, my oldest brother, Carlos, was in the living room washing windows.  He looked up in time to see Jimmy on the outside of the window, mocking him, then Jimmy waved at him and ran off.  Carlos was speechless but managed to compose himself quick enough to run down the street after Jimmy!

Jimmy began to have more and more violent tantrums, especially when my sister’s boyfriend came to visit.  He was very jealous.  My parents had to sedate him.  They would crush one of my father’s valium pills and put it in Jimmy’s food.  This only worked the first time.  After that, Jimmy would carefully dissect all food given to him and wipe off anything that looked like pulverized medicine!

Eventually, my parents felt it was time to get rid of Jimmy because of his violent fits.  They sold him to a man who lived on a large ranch and promised to build a 9′ x 12′ cage for Jimmy so he’d have a place to move and be free. When Jimmy left, it was clear that he was crying right along with the rest of us.

Once Jimmy was out of the house, it was time for more deals.

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“No hay mal que por bien no venga” is one of my father’s favorite sayings.  It is the equivalent of saying that “every cloud has a silver lining”.  My family has lived through some really tough times and one thing that helps keep things in perspective is this saying.

I remember the day it happened—the day everything changed.  It was in November of 1969.  I was in eighth grade and although I wasn’t really sick, my mom let me stay home.  She knew I was well ahead  in all of my classes and I would be good company for her.

It was about 10:45 and we were watching the morning movie hosted by Pat Montandon who gave a lot of background information on the day’s movie and had a trivia contest where people could win prizes of free movie tickets and dinner certificates.  I was sitting by the phone waiting for the trivia question because I was pretty good at it and my mom said I could call in and try to win a prize so I was ready for Pat to give the question.  My mom was in the kitchen, fixing some salsa to go over her eggs.  She made the most delicious salsa with tomato sauce, jalapeños, bell peppers, onion, tomato, and bacon.

We heard a car pull up the driveway and looked at each other in wonder because no one ever drove up our driveway.  It was too steep.  We heard a car door, then the door knob.  The door was locked.  We were frightened because we didn’t know who would drive up our driveway and then try to get in without knocking.

My mom, still in her robe, hid so no one would see she wasn’t dressed yet.  I looked out the window.

“It’s Dad.”

“¿Tu papa? No.  It can’t be!”  She rushed to the front door to see for herself then she opened the door to let him in.

One look at him and we both knew something horrible had happened.  My father was never sick.  The last time he had missed work had been about eight years before when his appendix had ruptured while he was at work.  That had been a close call.  He looked pale as he moved very slowly, in a crouched position.  There was a strange look in his yes.  All these years later, I realize that look was fear.

“What happened?”

“I got hurt.”

“How?  What happened?”

“On the fork lift.  I don’t know what happened.  I can’t figure it out.  It jerked and I flew out of it.  I landed on the ground.”  He seemed to be in shock as he spoke more to himself than to either of us.

My mother reached out to help him come into the house.  He seemed to be in great pain.  My mom offered to call the doctor.

“They took me to the doctor from work.  He said to come home and take a warm bath and go to bed.  He gave me some pills to take.  I have to go back to see him in a couple of days when I’m ready to go back to work.”  He took the prescription bottle from his jacket pocket and handed it to me.  “What does it say?”

“It says it’s valium.  You’re supposed to take it every six to eight hours.  You’re not supposed to drive or operate machinery and you can’t drink alcohol while you’re taking it,” I answered.

My mom helped him into the bedroom and into bed.  She gave him his medication.  When she reappeared in the kitchen, she was quite shaken.  “I’ve never seen your father like this.  He looks like he’s in a lot of pain.  I’m afraid that it’s worse than it looks.  I have a feeling he won’t be going back to work for a long time.”

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When I was growing up I was exposed to a wide variety of music at home.  As far back as I can remember, my parents played records of  music in Spanish and listened to Spanish language radio.  I learned to dance by putting my feet on top of my dad’s feet and having him move us to Mexican mariachi music and rancheras and later, to Tex-Mex.

As my brothers, who were all older than me, grew into their teen years in the 60’s, I grew to love their music.  I can still sing every word of every Sonny and Cher song and I still blast the Beach Boys from the radio in the car and at home.  Then came the music question of the 60’sRollingStones or Beatles?

Our house was split.  Richard, the middle brother was strictly a RollingStones kind of guy.  Carlos, the oldest, was a straight Beatles guy.  David, the youngest of the three boys was kind of in between.  He listened to it all and picked what he liked best.  We, the younger sisters, took it all in and would sometimes use either the Stones or the Beatles to get what we wanted from one of the brothers!

In the summer of 1970, I was 14 and Carlos was 20 and still lived at home.  Carlos worked at the cannery where my dad worked and paid for his own car insurance and other car related expenses and the rest of his money went to my parents to help support us all.  One day, he came home smiling and happy and went into his room and started to play Let It Be on the record player.  He had bought the song on the 45 rpm version.

From then on, when Carlos was home, all we heard of him was Let It Be coming from his room.    It got to the point where, a couple of weeks later, my dad got tired of listening to that one song and threatened to go into the room and break the record in half and throw it out!  Carlos started playing it at a much lower level until he was able to save the money to get a whole Beatles album that he then listened to non-stop.  That was not really great with my dad but at least he didn’t have to listen to the same words of wisdom, Let It Be.

When I scattered Carlos’ ashes on April 18, I couldn’t help muttering those words as the ashes escaped the fingers of my hand…let it be.


When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And in my hour of darkness

She is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people

Living in the world agree,

There will be an answer, let it be.

For though they may be parted there is

Still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be. Yeah

There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,

There is still a light that shines on me,

Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.

I wake up to the sound of music

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.

There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be,

Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

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One year when the kids were little, we booked a trip to Disney World in Orlando.  We left the day after Christmas.  It was the three kids and my ex-husband and me.  We had a great trip staying at one of the Disney hotels and going to the theme parks every day.   The two older kids had a blast swimming in the Mickey Mouse shaped swimming pool and ordering room service with Mickey shaped waffles.

The kids were all little, ten, seven, and one.  We hadn’t ever been to Florida before as our vacation place was Hawaii, which made this trip even more special.  They had been to Disneyland in California but never to Disney World.  We also spent a day driving to Cape Canaveral to see the Kennedy Space Center.

For those who haven’t been there, every night they have the most elaborate fireworks and laser show at Epcot.  At least they did in 1991.  My kids loved the fireworks and we took turns watching the fireworks one night and using that window when everyone was watching the show to go on the rides with long lines during the day.

On New Year’s Eve, they were having an extra long and special fireworks show at Epcot.  We took the kids back to the hotel early so they could rest because we had decided to go to Epcot to watch the New Year’s fireworks show.  The kids ate and bundled up and then we took the monorail to Epcot and found a comfortable spot on one of the little hills across from the lake in Epcot.  We would have a great view!  We waited until the show began and about five minutes into it, I looked over to see Tina crying.  Tina was seven and she had the biggest, fattest tears rolling down her cheeks and was going through that “ugly crying” when you can’t catch your breath and your face is all scrunched up.  I thought something horrible had happened and I asked her what was wrong.  Why was she crying?  Her answer: “Because it will never be 1991 again.” And on came a fresh dose of the heaving cries!

That little seven year old mind was feeling sorry for the year 1991 that was all over and would never come around again.  We still laugh when we think about it and we tease her.  She remembers it well and once in a while, she gets all teary-eyed when we remind her and there we go all over again with the tears!

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My Irish Root(s)

I know, I know. Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day! But in this case, there is some Irish in my family tree.

My mother’s side of the family is from Texas, from the Rio Grande Valley, on the Gulf of Mexico. Many years ago, I think about three generations ago, a young Irish lady came to the United States to study. She ended up in Texas and became pregnant with an American baby. She was taken in by my mother’s great grandfather and his family. They had a ranch and they took care of her there until her baby was born. In exchange, she did some light housekeeping and watched the children on the ranch.

When her baby was born and it was time for her to return to Ireland, she couldn’t take her baby home because she would suffer horribly for being an unmarried mother (this was in the early1900’s). She gave her baby boy to my mother’s maternal great grandfather and his wife and then she left for home. They adopted him and the only name for him on record is the surname Saldana. They raised him as their own. There is no record of the Irish mother’s surname.

There is also some rumor that the great grandfather had actually fathered the illegitimate baby. In any case, on my mother’s side, there is Irish blood, which probably accounts for all the green eyes, red hair, light complexion, and freckles!


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