My Colorado’s Bicentennial (Mis)Adventure

July 31, 1976

Have you ever experienced a what if? Ever been dangerously close to a hazardous situation, to realize just how fortunate you were to have escaped, only to have it gnaw at you later?

Today, as I celebrate this Independence Day, my mind goes back to a moment in time I shall never forget.

We headed for Colorado’s Rocky Mountain State Park for a continued weekend bicentennial celebration, to enjoy the magnificent canyons’ cool mountain air and breath-taking river valleys.

LovelandPassCO

Loveland Pass, CO looking east from the summit. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The afternoon breeze, mingled with the whiff of hamburgers sizzling on the pit, put our troubles behind us. Don was in good spirits, along with ample supply of his favorite beverage. He drank one after another, as he rehashed old childhood and war stories. I roasted marshmallows over the campfire, until raindrops drove us inside our van. We tucked in for the night in our sleeping bags.

In no time, Don’s snoring commenced. As my eyelids grew heavy, I thought, at least I’m not out in this wilderness alone.

Sometime later, I awoke with a start, “Donny! Donny, wake up!”

“Hmmm?” my still-asleep, great protector mumbled, turning over.

I sat up and held my breath. I felt the van vibrate. The plunking sound of raindrops rattled across the rooftop, lashing at the van’s exterior. I strained to listen for something else, feel something else, but wasn’t sure what.

Only a case of bad nerves, I reasoned, starting to lie back down. No! There it is again.

“Donny, did you feel that? Our whole van shook!”

“Go back to sleep, gal,” Donny muttered. “It’s probably just a bear.”

Just a bear? Better not be any bear out there!

Minutes passed. I lay back down and willed my body to relax. The sound of rain soon lulled my unsettled thoughts and sleep overtook me. Before nodding off, I thought I heard rumbling in the distant.

Dusk turned to dawn, and I considered my night’s fright silly. We ate a quick breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, leftover meat and orange juice.

“Shake a leg,” Donny announced. “Time to go.”

We left our campsite cruising over mucky roads. Puddles and slushy trails made the roads treacherous and tricky. At one point, our van was stuck in the mud. Donny kept his foot over the gas pedal and accelerated. The tires sloshed and the van swirled, nearly tipping over.

“Jesus!” I cried out, thinking we were history.

Unruffled under pressure, Donny turned the wheel sharply to the right and back on the road again.

“What’s the matter?” he said, looking at me as if I were a dimwit.

“Nothing,” I huffed.

As we continued, we noticed massive trees toppled over, many bobbed along in the river. We heard the whump, whump, whump, whump of helicopters overhead. Soon, we approached park rangers re-routing traffic. I stuck my head out the window and overheard bits of instructions given to other passengers in their vehicle. “. . . mountainside . . . engulfed . . . destroyed . . . missing . . . proceed with extreme caution . . . !”

The reporter on the radio described how a typical summer rainfall turned into a horrendous nightmare for hundreds of people. Many homes washed away in a flash flood. Cars vanished, buried under tons of debris. Roads had swept away along the canyon, broken concrete stuck out of the riverbank like foreign objects. It took hours before we careened back into town.

 

Photo: Vehicles were left stranded in the aftermath of the 1976 Big Thompson flood. Courtesy of Water Resources Archive

Photo: Vehicles were left stranded in the aftermath of the 1976 Big Thompson flood. Courtesy of Water Resources Archive

“Big Thompson River Flood Marker” by Wusel007 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The morning headlines read:

“THE BIG THOMPSON CANYON FLASH FLOOD.”

Many reported missing. Dead. Houses and businesses washed away, destroyed. The overwhelming thought hit me on how oblivious we were to the dangers the night before. If we had camped near the Loveland area, we would never have escaped. Donny could have innocently erred by having us camped out in that Loveland area—and brushed off my concerns in his half-drunken sleep, just as he did the night before. Then what? We might have been one of those statistics.

© M.A. Pérez, 2015, All Rights Reserved

6 Comments

Filed under Bicentennial, Colorado, Memoir, travel

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

1347718706533024142dancing_girl_silhouette-hi

 

Dance like nobody is watching,

Because they’re looking down on their cell phones anyway.

 

Dance like nobody’s watching,

They’re too engrossed in a sport’s show.

 

Dance like nobody’s watching,

The dog just yawned and rolled over.

 

Dance like nobody’s watching,

The newspaper is still in front of his face.

 

Dance like nobody’s watching,

The cat is busy scratching.

 

Dance like nobody’ s watching,

Isn’t that snoring coming across the room from the recliner?

 

So aren’t you glad nobody’s watching,

As you’re jamming to the music when your knee pops, you roll your ankle and throw out your back?

 

Yes, dance like nobody is watching,

He’s blinded with tears from laughing anyway!

 

9 Comments

Filed under dancing

Best Daddy Ever: My Hero

As a young girl, I knew I had the best Daddy in the world. Although my parents were divorced, throughout the years, he’d come for me.

I loved it when he took me to the parks. My daddy may have been short, but he was a big kid at heart and loads of fun. He had a knack for mimicking different sounds. Children laughed whenever he cried out like Tarzan on the jungle gym. He wouldn’t hesitate to push me high on the swing. I squealed with delight when he ran in front and scrambled away right in time before I could kick him. He’d twirl me on the merry-go-round until we couldn’t go anymore and tumbled on the ground from exhaustion. Me from laughing hard; him from running in circles.

Daddy worked as the produce manager in a huge grocery chain store. He was a hard worker, a model employee. A friendly, robust, people-person, he never grew tired of chatting with his customers and telling them jokes. His dark eyes twinkled with glee. The mirth in his thick Puerto Rican accent, combined with his animated personality, charmed all.

Sometimes Daddy caused havoc, but always in fun. He often mimicked the sound of a kitten near the produce stand at work to see the children’s reactions. Once an elderly woman hunted everywhere for the pobrecito. Then another time while whistling like a bird, he had customers looking up for one. He even imitated a newborn’s cry.

“Excuse me, sir, but don’t you hear a baby crying somewhere?” a worried customer asked.

“A baby? No, no,” he answered. “No baby over here.” Daddy chuckled as he related to me how he watched the mystified customer walk away, shaking her head.

Daddy told me the story when a little boy in a shopping cart kept staring at him the whole time, while his mother across the aisle weighed her vegetables.

“I smiled at da boy and asked his name, but he dun say noteen,” Daddy explained. “He just keep lookin’ and lookin’ at me, like I’m ugly or somethin’.”

“Then what did you do?” I asked and chuckled.

“I dun do noteen . . .” Daddy’s eyes twinkled.

“Go on,” I persisted, knowing of his pranks.

“I just smiled big and stuck out my bottom dentures at da boy.”

“No, Daddy, you didn’t!” I laughed, remembering him doing that very thing before, enough to startle anyone.

“Yeah, but then da boy started cryin’, so I got outta there fast,” Daddy said guiltily. “I dunno where I get these jokes. You got a funny papi, eh?”

“Yeah.” I giggled. “Muy loco, all right. Tell me the story about the goat sucker in Puerto Rico,” I said, wiping my eyes.

“¡Oh, si!” Daddy exclaimed, slapping his thigh. “¡El Chupacabra! Dis thin’ dat went round to all the animales suckin’ their blood dry.”

“Yep, that’s the one,” I said.

“Man, da people get so scared and say it’s some kind of diablo. They say, ‘sierra la puerta’, close your door, El Chupacabra is goin’ to suck your blood!”

“Ya ever see one, Daddy?”

“No, no, I never see dat thin’ in my life.” He chuckled and added, “I dunno if I believe it.”

“Well, it’s sure an awful scary story.” I shuddered at the possibilities.

Yes, my daddy has always been a natural born storyteller. I could sit and listen to him for hours. “Tell me again about the first time you left Puerto Rico on the plane.”

“When I left my home town Utuado in 1952?” His eyes flickered miles away, as he mused. “Flyin’ in dat two-engine airplane made me so scared. I needed to go to el baño so bad. The stewardess want to tell me somteen. Pues, I dunno what she say; I dunno any English then. She talk louder but I dun understand; I just wanna go. I try to make her understand me, so I jell to her, ‘I no spic inglish! I no spic inglish!’” 

As I listened to his broken English, I laughed until my sides ached and my eyes watered.

“Daddy, you didn’t know how to speak English when you were nineteen?”

“No hija, I didn’. Later, my cousin in New York explained to me that da stewardess just wanted me to put my seatbelt on. Ay bendito nene,” Daddy laughed. “I didn’ understand noteen.”

“Hey Papi,” I said, wiping my eyes. “Ya know what?”

“¿Que mi vida?”

“Ya still have an accent.”10493030_10204788142091228_5602024329688824434_o

“Ju tellin’ me, man.” He laughed.

Thirty years later:

My world shattered into a thousand fragments.

Along with my heart.

My hopes.

Dreams.

How so? When my former husband blurted, “I’m just not happy.”

After much heated words and screaming fits, I was relieved when he stormed out of the house. I felt ashamed knowing Daddy and my stepmother were visiting and within earshot in the guestroom had heard everything. By the time I went downstairs, Daddy was on his knees praying in Spanish by the bed. I stood by the doorway listening to his prayer, forgetting to move. Daddy, crying, glanced up and reached out his hand toward me. I went to him and collapsed, sobbing.

That day was Father’s Day, 1991.

The following day at the airport heartbroken and devastated, as we kissed and hugged to say our goodbyes, words stuck in my throat. He didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t sure what to do. But my daddy’s silence comforted me and it was enough. He wrapped strong, loving arms around me. I was a few inches taller, but felt smaller. At that moment, I wished I could stay in his arms and be a little girl again.

Today, with Father’s Day soon approaching, I remember how special my daddy has always made me feel. I still feel his love across the miles when we speak on the phone. At any given time when we’re together, I can still feel secure and safe in his arms as we embrace. His eyes still carry that familiar twinkle during his story telling.

Before long, my hero and I are reminiscing, laughing and enjoying the magical moment of father and daughter.

Note: My daddy will turn 82-years old this summer. He is still young-at-heart, full of lively, warm stories and jokes to share at a moment’s notice, and still very much a caring, loving, praying man. 

Te quiero mucho, Papi. 

6 Comments

Filed under Father's Day, Memoir

“All of Business is About Relationships.”

As I journey along the way, I have come to realize that I need you. I learn, grow and I am encouraged by you.

You see, there was a period of time when I was hurting so much I didn’t have time for you. I was too wrapped up in my own little sad state of affairs to consider you. And why not? I was led to believe that I was insignificant, damaged goods, a toss away. In my bleeding heart, what could I have contributed to you anyway? Why would anyone listen to anything I had to offer? Inside I was frail, weak and torn. I felt lonely. I was a mess!

But that was then. This is now: I thrive in hearing you say that I’ve helped you. I am comforted knowing I have made a difference by a deed, a spoken word, a smile, a written word, a touch.

Thank you for allowing me to be me. Thank you for going on this incredible journey with me. You walked with me in my brokenness and pain. You rooted for me during my shame, and cheered for me because I came out sane!

I have an endless hope, not a hopeless end!

My messes became my message. My life of peril turned into a life of promise. Through it all, I have gained an astonishing insight: I know that I’m somebody – with a bright future –  who has purpose – is needed – loved.

God hasn’t given up on you, so don’t you dare give up on Him. God loves you, and I do too.

ce470ec577f057a8ddec7d6d2f6ef617

2 Comments

Filed under encouragement, Inspirational, relationships

Like the Wind

Hadn’t my grandparents always said, “nothing worthwhile comes easy”?

At the track and field events, I earned each of my awards and ribbons. I’d raced along, my eyes on the mark. Momentum building as my arms pumped with energy and my long legs pounded the grassy field. The warmth from the sun’s rays kissed my face, and the breeze caressed my long, flowing hair. My mind, clear and free from worries, centered my concentration one goal: crossing the finish line.

We took our places and lined up in a row, waiting for Coach’s command.

“ON YOUR MARK . . .”

Nerves hit the pit of my stomach.

“GET SET . . .”

I willed my mind to focus, my eyes fixed straight ahead.

“GO!”

We were off. My foot slipped; two of us bumped. I regained momentum, pumping my arms, elbows high. I needed to pace myself or I’d run out of wind. I decided to hold steady at a comfortable third place. I knew that if I stretched myself, I’d pick up speed and pass them one by one. Needed to time it just right.

Image source: thinkstock by Getty Images

Breathe. Keep your eyes on the back of their heads.

Don’t get in too much of a hurry.

Steady . . . Steady . . .

Not yet. Not yet.

Almost . . .

Now!

I passed one girl. Then another. A burst of energy flooded me as I gained a second wind. I closed in on the leader. I heard her breathing. The sound of our feet pounded the ground in unison, inches apart. It was now or never.

We came onto the turn, I moved to the right. Willing my legs to move faster, I passed her up, taking the lead. In record time, I beat her to the finish line!

That was me a hundred years ago. Strong. Perky. Ageless.

If I did it then — perhaps, just maybe — I can do it again, in whatever I set out my mind to do.

How about YOU?

10 Comments

Filed under Perserverance, Race

Morning Will Come

Brokenhearted…….
How can I bear the pain?
So many plans…permanently interrupted.
So many dreams….shattered.
Hopes…….dashed
All gone.
Why? Why this? Why us? Why me?
Helplessness…..hopelessness…
Life will never be the same again.
Is it even worth living?
Where are you, God?
I’m right here beside you, my child.
Even though you may not feel my presence,
I’m holding you close under the shadow of my wings.
I will walk with you through this dark night.
Do not shrink from weeping.
I gave you tears for emotional release.
Don’t try to hide your grief.
Let it become for you a source of healing,
A process of restoration,
For I have planned it so.
Those who mourn shall be blessed.
I’ll be holding on to you,
Even when you feel you can’t hold on to me.
Seek my face, child of mine.
Receive my promise, impossible as is may seem now,
That joy will come in the morning.
It may take much time,
But I will heal your broken heart.
I know the night seems endless,
But MORNING WILL COME
I have promised.
—-From The Haven of Rest Newsletter

Note: I came across this poem and wanted to share it with my readers. So many times we can’t see the light because of so much darkness, despair, grief and pain. We wonder how long? How much more? When will it end? God, are you really there? Friends, please know that as long as you have a pulse, there is a purpose. As long as you have breathe, there is hope. And as long as you’re in your right mind, there are possibilities. Under the shadow of His wings, stay the course. Full speed ahead!

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

985c1a9223adb5e0a478a03892adcc96

7 Comments

Filed under Encouraged Comfort, Hope For the Hopeless

Memorial Day

11377082_10203755036867533_6169812447382191967_n

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who DIED in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

11350472_934786586583250_7134105148234908466_n

All gave some – Some gave all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review – “Running in Heels” by Mary A. Perez

Mary:

From another fan across the miles! Tina, you’re awesome and have captured my heart!

Originally posted on Just Ask Tina:

option-6d-copy-1.jpg (1800×2700)

I just finished reading “Running in Heels” – a terrific memoir by one of my special Blog buddies, Mary A. Perez. I must admit that I was not prepared for the multi-faceted journey that I experienced as I read this book, finding myself vacillating between tears and laughter, fear and hope as I rooted for this courageous and tenacious young girl as she worked to make a life for herself and, eventually, her children.  What struck me most about Mary was her determination to love and to be loved.  She travailed through abandonment, neglect, lack, and a contorted view of love, only to evolve, against all odds, into a dedicated and determined mother, and endearing and graceful daughter, a faithful and loyal wife and, most importantly of all, a triumphant and powerful woman of God. As she tried to become embittered, Mary’s heart was somehow strangely open as she continually doled out forgiveness and second chances…

View original 54 more words

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review

Mary:

A beautiful, heartfelt review of my book that brought me to tears. Testimonies from readers like these confirm that out of all my messes, I did something right! God bless you, Cate.

Originally posted on Let's Have Another Piece of Pie:

A fellow blogger that crossed my path a while ago has published a book.  It is full of truth and pain and her reality.  Her memoir.

I purchased this book through amazon.com for my kindle.  I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.  But I had to.  I tend to feel the pain as I read and needed short breaks.  That is a GOOD thing.  Why?  Because we all have come from dysfunctional backgrounds.  But some faced harder things than we may have.  Or perhaps I should say different things in our past.

I never went hungry or was physically abused.  I had more of the verbal attacks and great loss and left to myself to heal.

As I read through Mary’s book, Running in Heels, I thought of people I have met over the years who had to endure great pain.  Is it fair…

View original 147 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Houston Authors, Running in Heels

First Day on the Job – 1972

“Hold the pickles, Hold the lettuce, Special orders don’t upset us,
All we ask is you let us, Serve it your way.”

Our uniforms reminded me of ketchup and mustard. After riding the city bus to Miami Beach to my first paying job, I’d pasted on a smile, greeted customers, took their burger and drink orders and handled the cash register.

BK - 1972 Chpt 11

“Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace” page 101

#TBT – Yeah, I did that.

 

 

6 Comments

Filed under Memoir, Running in Heels