Thank you Ella for a wonderful write up and sharing my journey as an author.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”
As I contemplated writing this piece, I was reminded of the famous opening line in the classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities.
Please bear with me as I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and attempt to express the stirrings of my heart. While difficult to write, write I must!
On my last post, I wrote about me and my husband’s recent returned from a wonderful, much-needed vacation on a cruise with a couple of friends. Because neither one of us cared about adding the extra fee for internet usage, we opted out and enjoyed our getaway. As we neared the Port of Galveston upon our return, we were inundated with unexpected text messages and several missed calls.
Shockingly, I learned that my 79-year-old stepmother–who had always been like a mother to me–was hospitalized and in ICU. My sister stayed with her rarely leaving her side, her “labor of love,” as she so well put it. After suffering from a bout of excruciating pain, my stepmother had to have emergency surgery due to a small bowel obstruction.
A series of complications and alarming close calls left my family in panic, bombarding heaven with their prayers. Three weeks later, thankfully, my stepmother was released from the hospital. She continues recuperating at home, working on gaining her strength and some weight back.
My sister continues to care for her and our dad in Florida, and she is doing an extraordinary job, indeed a labor of love!
Ironically enough, while we were on our cruise, our friend’s own dear 90-year old mother was admitted into hospice. She had suffered a stroke, which soon led to another. The day we returned, our friend flew back to her hometown in Kentucky to be near her mother’s bedside. Needless to say, our hearts were heavy.
With permission, I share the words written by my friend’s sister, regarding their mother:
Mom isn’t doing too good she has had another stroke.
Hospice said it could be anytime she would be joining Dad.
She can’t talk, eat, or drink or move.
She is trapped in that old broken down body which seems such a horrible place to be!
I still love her so much.
I can’t stand to see her in such a way.
Part of me wants her to pass so she can escape that horrible prison;
But to escape she has to leave me physically.
Mom has been gone for over 2 yrs mentally,
But her body has remained.
But when I think of her passing …
I shudder to think about I!
So much mixed emotions are going through me at this time:
I feel guilty in wanting her to go, But selfish for wanting her to stay.
I know it is in Lords hands. I do not make that decision; the Lord will make it.
I imagine my Dad has been begging and pleading with the Lord since he got into heaven to bring her home!
I know Dad is getting everything ready for her arrival …
Our family can use some prayers!
Less than a week later, their precious mother passed away …
Many times, situations seem so out of control, and we are left feeling helpless. Even if one clings to their faith in God, and tries to prepare for the inevitable regarding elderly parents, the heartache and sadness of that loss loved one still crushes you and leaves a hole in your heart. But don’t despair! We are reminded in Psalms 34:18: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”
And wouldn’t you know the very day our friend’s mother passed, we celebrated my own mama’s 85th birthday!
The pendulum swings in the momentum of life.
Although Mama is not the best of health, I am grateful to God that we are able to celebrate her life and bring her joy.
She’s had a hard life, which I shared about in my memoir. We both have. But God has turned our mess into a message.
I feel blessed knowing that I can bring Mama some joy surrounded by family.
My husband, children and their spouses, helped to make her day special, as we showered her with gifts at one of her favorite restaurants.
While I have made no bones about our complicated mother-daughter relationship, those obstacles have never diminished my love for her.
The bottom line is: We. Love. Our. Mothers. And we desire to honor them.
I pray the Lord grant us the strength to relinquish them into His hands when that time comes for us all. May this blog post bring perfect peace and be a tribute to all our mothers.
We love you Gloria Esther Perez.
We love you Edna Tinsley Canter.
We love you Ruth Ann Mendez.
Mother’s love is something that no one can explain, it is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain, it is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may. For nothing can destroy it or take that love away.”
~ Hellen Steiner Rice
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Ever have a dream, but priorities along with the responsibilities puts that dream on hold? Yeah, me too.
Well, after ten years, that dream finally became a reality! For my birthday and silver anniversary gift to hubby and I, the children all pitched in–in-laws and Mama included–giving us the surprise of our life! What an unexpected BLESSING!
We went on our first cruise, ever! So yes, I got a taste of it and now, it’s in my blood! Haha!
Our stateroom with an ocean view was very comfortable, the food and service impeccable, with plenty of activities, music, shopping, and shows to chose from. We enjoyed everything about our four day cruise on the Royal Caribbean to Cozumel. A couple of our friends had joined us, and made our little getaway feel extra special.
Without further ado – here are just a few photos of our adventure!
“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.”
I ADORED MY little sister growing so fast. To see her beaming face at the window highlighted my day after school. She always reached up to carry my books, no matter how heavy. After we shared a snack, then time for homework. Anna took naps or played alone, while I finished my studies. Then we’d go out for a walk.
She loved the outdoors. Our outings became adventures—it made me feel good to see her hopping and skipping alongside me. If something piqued her curiosity, we stopped, whether it was to find a fallen bird’s nest or to watch a worm squirm under a rock to hide. We’d listen to the mockingbirds while we gathered sprigs of white wildflowers, and the red hibiscus and puffy yellow marigolds in bloom, smelling their fragrance before taking some home for Mama.
Anna cheerfully greeted everyone we passed. “What a beautiful angel she is,” they’d say. Her enchanting smile and deep blue, watchful eyes mesmerized. The warmth of her merry laughter penetrated hearts, including mine. “She’s my sister,” I’d proudly boast. Anna’s countenance radiated joy. I cherished her carefree spirit and relished her innocence.
Since Mama stayed in bed until the afternoons, Anna and I usually ate a bowl of corn flakes for breakfast. We’d watch Sesame Street on the black-and-white tube. Whenever Big Bird appeared, my sister squealed and clapped. Then when Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood came on, we sang along with him.
We ate our meals sitting on cushions on the floor. We didn’t have a scheduled time to eat. Chow time consisted of simple bologna sandwiches, a heated can of SpaghettiOs, or sometimes a can of tomato soup. On special occasions, we ate Swanson chicken TV dinners.
Mama expected me to care for my sister. In the evenings, when she and Jimmy went out, Anna and I stayed home by ourselves. We’d lay on the floor to color or played inside our blanket tent, having tea parties with our plastic cups. I sometimes read aloud, making up the words I didn’t know. We stayed up until we grew sleepy.
Whatever we did, doing it together was more fun than being alone.
One particular evening, as I gazed into my sister’s baby-blues, a sudden feeling of sorrow swept over me. Tears clouded my eyes. Something burned within my chest. I cried out, “Please God, don’t let nothing bad happen to her!”
Anna gazed at me with her gentle, trusting eyes.
“I’ll protect you,” I whispered to her. “For always.”
Before bedtime, we repeated a child’s prayer Grandma taught me, one that hung on the wall:
“. . . I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep . . .”
That night I clung to my sister and kept the strange premonition to myself.
Excerpt of Chapter 4: The Little Green Dress in Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace
In memory of my angel, my sister born Sept. 23, 1966.
Taken too soon from us on Oct. 22, 1968.
I’ll love you forever, for true and for always.
“I shall go to her, but she shall not return to me.”
2 Sam. 12:23
I ♥ my readers & I’m grateful for everyone of you.
To show my appreciation, I am launching a
Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit & Grace
WIN a signed updated edition of Running in Heels!
Giveaway ends November 6th, at 12AM.
Enter for your chance to win here:
Spunky, Sassy, even Sexy at Sixty?
Yes! And why not?
A long time ago, someone close to me tried to crush my spirit and conform me in his own image. My ex-husband ruled with an iron fist and belittled me. I was downtrodden for so many years. Thank God I didn’t remain that way!
I thank God for all that He has brought me out of and through! He never promised a bed of roses. Even after being pricked by thorns, there is healing.
You see, God made me to be ME! God has made you to be YOU! Yes, it’s true that He loves us just the way we are. But, I believe He loves us too much to leave us that way. He longs to perfect us to become our better selves.
For those of you who have read my story, “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace” (on Amazon), you know that 25 years ago, God brought me a wonderful and loving help mate; one who embraces my uniqueness and even my sometimes crazy self. I can be ME – the good, the bad and the ugly! Don’t get it twisted, I do strive to being more of the “good.”
Once upon a time, I felt so lonely and neglected, but not anymore. I have a loving close-knit family – my children are all adults and each carry their own strengths and uniqueness. I am surrounded by positive, caring and fun-loving friends who genuinely refreshes my soul!
I don’t care who you are, no man is an island unto himself. We. Need. One. Another.
As I mature in age, may I learn to take things slowly and not count the moments, but make the moments count. Life is a gift and we are planted here on this earth for a purpose. Let’s learn to bloom where we are planted.
Some worthy quotes to remember:
- Cherish all your happy moments; they make a fine cushion for old age.
- Age is a case of mind over matter.
- We age not by years, but by stories.
- In youth we learn; in age, we understand.
- Don’t let anyone that doesn’t know your value, determine your worth.
- One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and be understood.
- Youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art.
- Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Birthday celebration with family and a few friends.
This song relates to me! Please listen to the words and may it resonant in you, whoever you are!
Yes, in the scheme of things, I am still fighting a battle. But I am reminded that the battle is not mine but the Lord’s!
Know who your enemy is! The worse emotion that we feel from time to time is fear, which can cripple you if you let it. But don’t allow it to.
Dad: A son’s first hero. A daughter’s first love.
The fathers in my family are called Dad, Daddy, and Papi. Newsflash: None are perfect! But each one represents love, courage, provision, and strength. Their eyes glow with purpose. Their smiles melt hearts. Their chest swells with pride. Their callous hands protect. They stand tall with dignity. And their embraces offer comfort and assurance. Yes, they are the pillars in our households.
It’s said that every man is trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes. I don’t know if that’s true. I only know that each man represented in my family strive to being the very best possible. Each hold a mantle and carry a torch for the next generation. Each dad represented in my family lays a solid foundation, even those who have crossed over to the other side. I can’t help but to think about my own grandfathers. They were strong, respected dedicated men with a constant presence. They left behind a legacy. When the tough got going, they didn’t cave under pressure. They persevere with Puerto Rican pride in every fiber of their being.
To the men in my family who are dads (and have yet to be): I love and admire each and every one of you. And to my dear husband who married me with four children, I share this quote: “It takes a strong man to accept somebody else’s children and step up to the plate another man left on the table.” I salute you.
I salute you all.
Remember: Any man can be a father. But it takes a special person to be a dad.
© M.A. Pérez, 2018, All Rights Reserved
Last year, my oldest daughter and I were asked to be a part of a workshop at our church, speaking about adult daughters and their mother’s relationships. We had made a list and examined our strengths as well as our, ahem, weaknesses. I knew from experience that mother-daughter relationships can be both complex and diverse.
There are many ups and downs, no matter how positive, or complicated and trying the relationship. Psychologists say daughter’s primary complaints are that mothers try to baby them being overly critical and demanding. From mom’s perspective, daughters don’t listen to them, make poor choices and have zero time for them.
I did not find this teaching comfortable or an easy topic. There are many challenges in parenting and this thing called “motherhood” hit me between the eyes at an early age. My mom raised me pretty much as a single mom, as she never married after she and my dad split. She had common law relationships–I can think of three–and I was pretty much left on my own. So yeah, I was neglected and raised myself. Matter of fact, our roles were reversed and so, I’ve always felt that my childhood was taken from me!
I left home early and married very young. I had my first child at the age of 17, and by the time I was 22, I had my 4th. Ironically enough, I did a lot of the same mistakes in parenting as my own mother. I wrote about my personal journey as a daughter, wife and mother. You can say I was a real hot mess back then. In retrospect, I thank God that He rescued me from myself! Now that my children are adults – I can think of a lot of things that I did wrong and regret in my own role. But nothing worthwhile comes easy; at least it never did for me!
In every challenge there are defeats and triumphs – and all of us have some scars along the way.
Lamentations 3:22-23: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
I am familiar with the power struggles, the pet peeves, and the miscommunications.
What I see in my daughter(s), the good, the bad, and the ugly – I sometimes see a reflection of myself. Oh! Those flaws! Clearly, I may not always liked what I see … or hear. But you know what? We’re on the same team – we love each other, and we are there for one another.
Jer 31:16: Thus says the LORD, “Restrain your voice from weeping And your eyes from tears; For your work will be rewarded,” declares the LORD, “And they will return from the land of the enemy.”
I can’t stress how I prayed, interceded and wept for my wayward child (children). But as a mother – that’s what we do! We don’t give up and we don’t let up until we have God’s peace. Know that it’ll be in His time frame, not necessarily in ours. And when God does it, it’ll be a sure work. He’ll leave nothing undone.
HOW CAN WE BE STRONGER TOGETHER?
Here are a few golden nuggets from my own firstborn’s perspective:
Everybody knows that TWO heads are better than ONE. In Girl scouts and in the 4H Club, you learn that three strands of string make a strong rope. To play harmony on a piano, you play with two or more notes. And as you know, you won’t find a giant redwood tree standing alone!
- Teaching by example, learning by experience, in values and in skills – all help us become stronger together.
- Spending quality time with one another binds us stronger together as a family; i.e., meal times and outings.
- Appreciating each other – showing love and affection.
- Sharing a laugh builds us up – laughter is good medicine.
- Sharing in responsibilities, accomplishing tasks together.
- Stand by each other in times of trouble, uniting and pulling together when things get tough… when we encourage each other, we are stronger together.
Most importantly … when we learn to forgive each other, being opened and honest, yet KIND, we become stronger. Remember: attack the problem, not each other.
We encourage each other, consult with each other, spend time with each other, learn and grow from each other. No matter what the circumstances, despite feelings, perspectives, weaknesses and “bumps” along the way, when we face life together, find God together, pray together … all of these acts and then some, we can get through it and be stronger together!
My daughter(s) and I have come a long way.
Ps 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
Here are my own acronyms for MOTHER & DAUGHTER:
M ake the first move
O mit malice
T hink before responding
H ave realistic expectations
E xtend grace
R epair damage quickly
D are to forgive offenses
A gree to disagree
U nity is better than division
G ather your words with prayer
H old unto hope
T alk about ways to communicate
E mbrace change for the better
R espect each other
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
And by the way, I also have an adorable son close to my hip! God is good!
Missing my loved ones in Florida, and thankful for the beautiful memories.