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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

Yesterday I lost a friend. He was taken from this earth way too soon. He leaves a hole in many hearts. I have been reading FB posts expressing shock at his death, which came after a sudden illness. It caught so many by surprise. It’s both sad and comforting to read the posts which tell so many wonderful stories about him, many of which I didn’t know.

Many years ago, a year or so after my divorce, I decided that I was going to get out of the house and do something productive other than Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and PTA. Amazingly, the day I expressed this to my shrink, I got a notice inviting me to a meeting of the Stanford Chicano/Latino Alumni Association of Southern California. The meeting was the coming weekend. I decided I was going. I had not been involved with the group previously but I had been on their mailing list for some time. This was my chance to spread my wings. So I went.

That was the start of so much for me. I reconnected with friends and with friends of friends. I not only got involved, as with everything I do, I jumped in with both feet and within the year I was the president of the group. Our monthly meetings were held at my house on weekends. One of the other people in this group was Carl. Carl had been a freshman when I graduated so I hadn’t known him then, although I did recognize him. He became a friend right away. He was supportive, funny, highly intelligent, opinionated but reflective, too. Carl was one who made us all think about a project from different angles. At that time, he drove a very fancy foreign sports car. When he came to our meetings, he was always the first one there and would park his car on the street right in front of my huge front window. My daughter, Tina, was about thirteen or fourteen at the time and she fell in love with that car. She would come to the window and stare at it. During our meetings, we could see her out the window, looking at the car. She was fascinated with it. She asked Carl questions about it. We all got a kick out of it, including Carl. He answered her questions and told her all sorts of information about the car. One day, he smiled at me and looked at my daughter and said that after our meeting, if it was okay with her mom, he would take her for a short ride in the car. She looked at me and asked if it was okay. I agreed, reminding her that she had a couple of things she should finish during our meeting if she wanted to go for that ride. After the meeting and post meeting socializing, she got to go for that ride. They were only gone for about ten minutes but when they returned, Tina was so excited! She talked about it for weeks. I thanked Carl that day and he said it was nothing. He was glad to do it. His eyes sparkled and his goatee smiled a shy, satisfied smile.

That was one of the many things I remember about Carl. He was always there to raise the spirits, support when he could, listen and make suggestions if appropriate. He raised the self-esteem of a young teenage girl when he took her for a ride in a fancy car. He gave substance to her interest in the car and made a dream come true for her with that ride. Carl made the world a better place from his chemical engineering job to his running group; from the alumni group to his Rotary Club. He never forgot where he came from. He never forgot his family, going back to Pueblo whenever he could. He never let anyone down. He gave all that he could.

He leaves the world a better place, although there are many holes left by his death.

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Let It Go; Forget It

The first time was after I was assaulted and held at knife point by a couple of teen thugs. My pants were ripped and the buttons torn off of my shirt. I was mauled. I was scared to death. When it was all over, I knew I was okay but the fright and the panic lasted for days and weeks and months. I tried to get past it. I tried. I really did. But it would come rushing back at me at the most unexpected moment. And instead of holding me or comforting me, I was told to forget it.

Then there were the missed miscarriages. Each time I was devastated. Each time I was broken inside. Each time I was barely hanging on for the sake of my other children. Months later, it was better but it would come flooding back and drag me down. Again, I was told to forget it, let it go. It wasn’t easy but I tried.

I really tried. Now I wonder if I had been allowed to grieve and cry and express my outrage and devastation, would I be better now? Or would these memories come flooding over me forty and twenty-eight years later? I know the memories would still come back but I think I might be better. I guess I won’t ever know.

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Giraffes

Somehow, I got wind of a live feed on Facebook last night…a mama giraffe about to give birth to her calf. I love giraffes and so I clicked on it and spent the better part of the last fourteen hours watching and waiting with thousands of people around the world.

The first time I noticed giraffes was in my twenties. My sister-in-law was visiting for a few weeks in the summer. I took her to the zoo and we spent most of the day there, taking our time watching the animals. When we tired, we went to the snack bar and got hot dogs and sodas and sat down to enjoy them. The area where we were sitting overlooked the giraffe exhibit. We sat and talked then took note of the majestic animals so close to us. They are so graceful and so unique.  From that day forward, giraffes became my favorite animal. Later, when my son was a toddler, we took him to the zoo on a hot summer day in Los Angeles. However, I had recently had knee surgery so I couldn’t do much walking. I would follow them to one area, hobbling along on my crutches then I would “park” myself on a bench and watch the world go by as my son got to explore the other animals in the area with his dad and auntie. When we got near the giraffes, I parked myself in front of the giraffe area and watched them. Again, I was smitten.

When I have taken trips to Winston’s Wildlife Safari, my favorite part is the giraffe area. They walk across the road, blocking cars for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. They get so close to cars that one could reach out the window and touch them. I love that they block the road because it gives me a great excuse to sit there and watch. When my son and I went to Australia, one of the highlights for me was getting to feed the giraffes carrots! We got to do a behind the scenes early morning visit before the Toronga Zoo (in Sydney) opened. Then we were allowed to enter the keeper area to watch them up close and personal. Wow! I was in heaven!

So that’s how I am spending the rest of the day, popping in and out of the live feed to try to catch the birth. I’m on baby watch!

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At Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon

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Tony and giraffes.

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Re-posting an old favorite:

One of my fondest Christmas memories is also one of the saddest.  It happened in 1978, the year I got married.

My mother lived in Long Beach, California and my husband and I lived in Santa Monica.  His parents lived in Mexicali, Baja California, which is about a four or so hour drive from where my mom lived.  I had never missed a Christmas at home.  It was very important to me that I not miss being home, not just for my sake but for my mother’s.  I knew she wanted me to be home.  So we consulted with everyone and figured out a plan where my husband and I would drive to Mexicali a few days before Christmas.  We would have an early Christmas lunch after opening presents with his family, then we would leave there and come across the border by one in the afternoon or so.  We would then drive to Long Beach and be there for a late Christmas dinner and opening presents with my family.

We were staying on the U.S. side of the border, in Calexico, at my husband’s grandmother’s house while we were down there.  On Christmas Eve when it was time for bed, I couldn’t sleep.  I talked for hours and hours.  My husband heard about every one of my Christmases that night.  I think I was nervous about being with my new family (I had just met them two months previously and had not spent much time with them) and also nervous about the timing of the drive to my mom’s house.  I didn’t want anything to go wrong that would keep us from spending a part of the holiday with my family.  They were all waiting for us, including a number of nieces and nephews who weren’t going to open presents until we got there. So I went on and on about Christmas and about birthday cakes (my birthday is on Christmas).  I think I recalled every single gift I had gotten in my 22 years!  Finally, I let him fall asleep at what was probably about three in the morning.   I stayed awake after he fell asleep.

The next day, everything on his family’s end of the planning went well.  By nine we were finished opening presents and our lunch was being prepared.  We ate by noon and even though I offered to stay and help with the clean up, we were ushered out of there so we wouldn’t be late getting to my mother’s house.

To get on the road, we had to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.  The road we took to get from my in-law’s to the border, was the fastest route.  It had businesses on one side and a very high fence on the other side, which served as the division between the third world country and the richest country in the world (at least in those days).  As the road approaches the border, the last mile or two, the fence is just a cyclone fence and you can see right through it, (at least in 1978 you could; I’m not sure what it’s like now).  We slowed as the road ahead of us narrowed from four lanes to the two border patrol booths that were open.  It was not a long wait but to me, it was way too long.  Because there was little traffic that day, there were no cars between us and the cyclone fence, giving us full view of the “dividing line.”  As I sat there, I looked over and watched as families congregated at the fence, exchanging gifts through the openings in the cyclone fence.  Once I realized what it was that they were doing, the excitement I felt about being on my way home left me along with my breath.  For what seemed like forever, I couldn’t breathe.  I was riveted to the scene before me.  There were mothers and their children passing crudely wrapped gifts from one side of the fence to the other.  On both sides of the fence, people were smiling and chatting as they exchanged Christmas gifts.  It seemed to be normal to them, and I’m sure it was.

I was struck by the fact that these families could not embrace or pass any gift bigger than three or so inches to the other side.  The families’ economic differences were clear.  The ones on the Mexico side of the fence were very poorly clad, especially for what was a crisp December day with the promise of rain in the sky.  The ones on the U.S. side were better dressed and wore shoes and coats appropriate for the weather.  The families although together, were very far apart in many ways.  Before I knew it, I was crying.  My chattiness was gone and we drove home to my mother’s house in almost complete silence.  When we arrived, being there with my family, in the same piece of earth, was more special than it had ever been.  I could hug them and kiss them and hold them near to me.

That was the Christmas in which I left my childhood innocence behind in many ways.

 

For a lighter Christmas Story, click on the link:

Baby Jesus Bridge

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When my kids were growing up, we lived in a small town near Los Angeles and in another town right next to us, one much smaller than ours, they had a Christmas parade each year, during the first weekend of December. Because it was in California, we didn’t often have to worry about wet weather but we did have to bundle up because even there, in the foothills of the Crescenta Valley, it could, and did, get very cold and windy.

For a small town, Montrose had a big parade. It wasn’t fancy. It featured every local school’s marching banc, every gymnastics troop, every scout group, a local motorcycle group performing stunts, and the last few years I attended, even the preschool participated with parents pulling the little ones in wagons and pushing them in strollers.

It was fun. It didn’t matter that there were no big, fancy floats. It just mattered that everyone was there for the same reason, to celebrate all the kids in the parade, young and old.  I remember the excitement as we headed for the parade each year. We had to get there early so we could get front row seats, sitting on the curb with blankets and taking a big thermos of hot chocolate and some snacks. It wasn’t until years after we started attending that the started to sell hot chocolate and cookies and all sorts of stuff. In fact, it makes me wonder what that little parade is like now. I’m sure it’s very different from the days when I marched the parade route with my Cub Scouts and my Girl Scouts. In fact, I had to do it twice. I had the parade organizers place my Cub Scouts and Girls Scouts far enough apart so I could march with one troop then run back to the beginning of the route to march with my other troop! Those were the days when I was young and had a lot more energy. I’m sure I couldn’t do that now!

Of course, the highlight each year was Santa Claus arriving over the parade route on the search and rescue helicopter! The helicopter hovered above the parade route with spotlights shining on Santa as he hung out the door waving to the kids below. It really was kinda neat!

Those memories bring back the good times; the times when all was good and we were happy; the times of innocence and believing in magic and the good in the world.

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I was driving home from Seattle on Friday and didn’t have an audio book ready to listen to. I turned on the radio but couldn’t tune in to anything while I was driving. I hit the “scan” button and all I got was static until, just at the point of giving up, I heard a song starting up. I immediately recognized the song. It brought a smile to my face as it reminded me of my brother, David.

All of my brothers were Raider fans, especially David and Richard. They were very enthusiastic fans and everyone knew it. When the Raiders played (we’re talking Oakland Raiders) David had a song cued on the radio, ready to go when the Raiders scored. And so, if you lived I David’s neighborhood, you didn’t have to listen to the game or watch it because you would know the score…every time the Raiders scored, David would play, at full volume, Another One Bites the Dust! The volume was so loud that the whole house shook. No one ever complained because he lived in Raider territory so it continued.

That’s a story that reminds me of one side of David, a side that makes me smile. So when I heard the beginning beats of the song, even before any lyrics, I knew the song and it made me smile and sing out loud every time that lyric came up…another one bites the dust!

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I was looking through my blog posts for previous Decembers so that I could find a specific post to contribute to a friend’s December collection of blog posts. So far I haven’t found it but I ended up reading so many of the posts that I had all but forgotten. They are full of memories, some good and some not so good. In every case I found my throat getting dry and my eyes moist. And it wasn’t all about the memories that I’ve shared with my blog readers over the years. It’s about noticing that I haven’t written real memoir pieces in a long time. I’ve written very little memoir and very little fiction. I really want to get back to writing what this blog used to be about. If I do anything in 2017, that’s it. More writing, genuine writing of memoir and fiction.

So now I have to go back to looking for that specific post and maybe I will make a list of which ones I want to reblog for you here in December. They are full of memories, mostly from my childhood but also some from my married years and the early years after my divorce raising three children on my own. Lots of wonderful memories even though some of them are filled with enough tears to share with everyone.

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