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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

I enjoy beer. I don’t get to drink it much anymore because it can interfere with my medicines and because I don’t have expendable cash.

The other day, when it got cold enough and wet enough to wear a coat, I found a twenty dollar bill in my coat pocket. Score!

While there are a lot of things I could have spent it on,  I was on  my way to the grocery  store and while there, I spotted my bargain beer. It’s not super popular, although after I first discovered it about a year ago I found out that it is the go to beer of college students because of the price and the not so bad taste. Rolling Rock is priced at $8.99 for an eighteen pack. So I spent half of my twenty on Rolling Rock. It will last a long time. My daughter bought me an eighteen pack last year and it lasted me four months.

Tonight, I decided to have a can and as I sipped on it,  it occurred to me that my dad must have felt the same about his go to beer as I feel about Rolling Rock. His was PBR. Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s cheap and is not bad. My dad had seven kids and was the only bread winner. So he needed cheap beer. It was usually PBR but at times, when he needed even cheaper beer, it was Brown Derby.

So tonight, as I enjoy one can of Rolling Rock,  I’ll toast my dad and I will be thankful that Rolling Rock isn’t too bad.

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That’s where it came from.

I was in bed a little while ago. The grandkids are spending the night and the two boys always want to sleep in my bed and I have to be in the bed with them or they get upset. So I am in the bed not sleeping. I’m in pain but I can’t take the pain pills because they make me zonk out and I can’t do that with the kids here. The little one is not quite nine months old and might wake up because she’s in a strange bed although she normally sleeps through the night. The four year old wakes up and wants to go outside. He actually gets the step ladder and unlocks the chain and goes outside. Even if it’s dark and rainy. And I don’t hear him even when I am not on pain pills so I’m sure I would not hear him on pain pills. So no pain pills. And I have to sleep on my right side to avoid some of the pain but I can’t because of the position of the boys.

So I am in bed, awake. And that’s when it happened.

A memory. It was 1990. An almost forgotten memory and one that I have surely put out of my head for self preservation. But it came back. And it made me cry. I had to get up and leave the room because I was afraid the boys would wake up with my crying. It all came back. I was on the freeway, the 101 southbound, in my car with the kids who were 10, 7, and 2. My kids. My husband had left home six weeks prior to that day because he needed a break and wasn’t sure he wanted to be married anymore. I had gone up north to see my sister and so that the kids could visit with their cousins and so that we wouldn’t be home alone thinking and missing him. We were on our way home. Then a car was passing us and out of the corner of my eye I realized it looked like his car. Then I looked and realized it was. He was driving it but he wasn’t alone. And I didn’t know who the woman with him was. When he saw that it was me and that I had seen him, he floored the gas pedal.

That’s how I found out that my “soul mate” was cheating on me.

And that’s what came flooding back a little while ago. And now for sure I won’t sleep. It will be a long night.

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California

Some of you may remember that I am from California, though I live in Oregon. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, in San Jose. I lived there until college then moved up the road to Palo Alto. After college I lived in southern California for too many years then found my way back up north to Santa Rosa. I love California. It will always be my home. California, at least a bit of it, lives inside of me.

Santa Rosa. It’s a small town in Sonoma County, about forty-five minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s in Wine Country. And right now, it’s on fire. There is currently a horrible fire storm in a number of counties in the area. I didn’t keep up with the statistics over the weekend because I took a bit of a break from all the news, most of which is horrible or sad in some way. But I know that as of last Friday it had consumed more than three thousand structures, killed at least thirty-one people, and over six hundred were reported missing. Yeah. A real tragedy that has made me so sad.

As my connection to the Houston hurricane which some of you may remember, this Santa Rosa fire has saddened me greatly. Structures that I am well familiar with were totally lost. The beautiful trees and hills have been charred. And, in this case, one of my aunts lost her home. I am just glad that they weren’t home because she and her husband both take sleeping pills and I’m afraid that if they had been home, they may not have been aware of the fire in time. They lived up on a hill top cul-de-sac, where the only way out is a very narrow road. But they weren’t home which is a blessing in some ways. Because they weren’t home, they didn’t have the opportunity to save anything at all. Everything they had, other than what they had with them in their RV (they were on their way to Wyoming) is gone. Their cars. Their clothing. Her doll collection. His extensive gun collection. Their wall safe with a lot of cash melted. (Don’t believe it when they claim they are fire proof.) Their personal memorabilia. Photographs. Mementos. It’s all gone.

My aunt says they are too old to rebuild that custom home. I’m not sure where they will choose to move to. My aunt has lived in the area her entire life and her husband has too, with the exception of his time in the Navy. Their lives are so closely tied to the Santa Rosa area.

My daughter’s former co-workers and friends, some of them anyway, also lost their homes. These are younger people who might not have been properly insured. This is so devastating for them, as well.

Entire neighborhoods are gone and unlike the popular thought, they are not the fancy neighborhoods like the one my aunt lived in. Many of these are where working class people lived and worked and went to school and played. Many of these people lost not only their homes and everything in them (the fire came through without warning, in the middle of the night and people had just moments to grab keys and run), they’ve also lost the place of employment with so many businesses burned to the ground.

There have been some bright spots. Some incredible kindnesses shown. Perhaps I’ll write about some of those this week.

The fires are still going. It has been an entire week of flames in the area and the smoke continues to blacken the skies. If you’re a praying person, please pray for the area and that the fires are put out as soon as possible. And of course, let’s pray for the firefighters who have been working round the clock, often working three back to back to back shifts with no rest.

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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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