Forever, For Always in my Heart

Soft, velvety cheeks. A round rosy nose. Dark hair like mine, but curly. Eyes, blue that sparkled like the ocean I’d seen in storybooks. I kissed her sweet-smelling face. Her soft, pudgy hand with tiny fingers, curled inside mine.

My sister, Anna, melted my heart. I won’t be alone anymore. I caressed her cheeks and whispered, “I’ll stay by your side for always.”

Soon left with the responsibility of caring for Anna, I became her substitute mother. I loved her and took care of her as best as a seven-year-old could.

Before I knew it, my baby sister turned two. 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.

My legs trembled as I crept to her room and peered through the glass-pane door on my tiptoes. I saw a blinking monitor. Then I saw her—my baby sister—with soiled feet, still in her little, green denim dress, tattered and torn. She lay motionless on her back, her curly, brown hair matted with blood. Her face bruised and swollen, her baby blues closed tight.

I felt light-headed as I slumped on the floor, pulling my knees to my chest, crying.

At the funeral, I held my breath and willed my feet toward the small white casket.

Grandma squeezed my hand. I took my finger and stroked my sister’s face, which reminded me of a plastic doll’s, stiff and cold to the touch. Heavy makeup could not conceal her bruises. Her little head—now swollen from the blow of the car that hit her—was cradled by a bonnet, much too small. She wore a new green dress, cleaned and pressed, without stains. Nor traces of blood.

I glanced up at Grandma. “Your sister’s in a better place now,” she choked. Then I placed a small cross under Anna’s tiny, rigid hands. My tears blinded me.

“. . . If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.”

Excerpt from “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace

Each year as her birthday approaches, I think about how special my baby sister has always been to me. But those memories turn bittersweet, as it is difficult for me to separate how quickly we had to say goodbye to her, just a month after celebrating her 2nd birthday. Her memory will forever live in my heart, and for that I am grateful.

Leave a comment

Filed under Memoir, sibling loss

Laughter is the Best Medicine

“It was a special night for me in Sugar Land, TX, while visiting with sis, I got to see my Special friend, and my favorite Author, of my favorite book! Mary A. Pérez, the author of my favorite book, “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace.” Mary Ann is definitely my hero! I know one day this will be made into a movie.

While reading this book, there was not an emotion I didn’t feel. But the best part of all ~ It has a beautiful and happy ending!” ~ Rhonda Irvin


Note by Author:
Such a joyous moment. What can I add but to say: It does my heart good, knowing that my story – flaws and all – has blessed another. I shared my memoir that others may know that there is help for the helpless, hope for the hopeless, and forgiveness for the inexcusable. Contrary to popular belief, your past does not define your future. With God, ALL things are possible! In Him we live, move and have our being!

1 Comment

Filed under Author, Memoir

Where Were You?

Sometimes an event occurs and time stands still.

I know I shall never forget …

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Alan Jackson got inspiration to write his song "Where Were You.." as a tribute to all of the people who lost their lives that day.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 911, Sept. 11

In the Midst of the Storm

Hurricane Cleo struck Miami with 100-mile-per-hour winds in late August of 1964. Fallen branches and debris flew across the yard. The pelting rain rattled against our old wooden door and the thin, sheet glass-pane windows.

My step-dad, Jimmy placed a dresser against the front door to our efficiency apartment to keep it from flying open. Mama and I hunkered down in the dark bathroom like cornered animals. I sat on the floor with my knees pulled up. I covered my ears with my hands, trying to drown out the deafening gusts of wind and my mama’s panicking cries.

Yet in the same instant that I closed my eyes, the thoughts tumbled through my mind: Gosh, today is my birthday; I am five years old. Mama said I’m a ‘big girl’ now.

_______________________________________________________________

In the year 1969, ten days before my tenth birthday, the second most intense hurricane on record hit the United States. Hurricane Camille, a Category 5, had all south Florida feeling her wrath.

My step-daddy, Mama and I took shelter in the gymnasium of Miami Edison High School. Many people talked in loud voices. Confused and frightened children fussed and cried as they clung to their mama’s skirts and their daddy’s necks to ride out the storm.

On a floor mat I sat, glancing around, clutching my raggedy doll and our meager chow in a sack: a single loaf of Wonder Bread and a jar of Welch’s Grape Jelly. When My step-daddy suggested that I offer some to another girl close by, I recoiled. You see, even in normal times, sharing food wasn’t so easy for me.

Comfort and tranquility were as far away from me as the moon and blew past like shingles from the roofs of so many of the homes that felt Camille’s fury.

_____________________________________________________________

The above are excerpts of my memoir. Even after all these years later, I still get a bit skittish during rainstorms, let alone hurricanes. Me no like, and as you can see, have never liked them.

Currently, the National Hurricane Center forecast are saying–not one but–two storms are brewing in the Gulf of Mexico! What if they collide with each other and spin around each other, becoming one? This Texas Two-Step is known as a Fujiwhara effect. Go figure!

My heart and prayers go out to all those affected by these storms; whatever type of storm they may be: sickness, trials, trouble, distress, turmoil, heartache or pressure. This is not easy for everyone–me included–but may I encourage you to allow God to give you peace in the midst of the storms.

I am reminded what scripture says: Isaiah 26:3-4: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” 

 

 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d0/e5/d2/d0e5d2990f98360a0c67f7705984db83.jpg

4 Comments

Filed under storms

Until We Meet Again

A Beautiful Soul Is Never Forgotten
1/6/1911 – 8/12/2016

FullSizeRender

Leave a comment

Filed under In Loving Memory

Two Hearts Beat As One

I have found the one whom my soul loves. – Song of Solomon 3:4

ds

To my strapping son and his beautiful bride ~

When love came knocking,

I’m glad you both answered the call for each another.

Wishing you both a Happy and Blessed 2nd Year Wedding Anniversary.

1 Comment

Filed under Wedding Anniversary

The Wind Beneath My Wings

You are God’s gift to me. From day one, I was drawn to your tenderness, warmth and laughter, and loved your adventurous spirit for the outdoors and watching you with my children. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for choosing me and to remain by my side as my amazing hubby, confidant and best friend! You still light up my life and are the wind beneath my wings. May the Lord continue to watch over you and give us precious years together, believing that the best years are yet to come. I love you.

2 Comments

Filed under Birthday, birthday blessings

I Cry

 

Usually tears bring me to write. Something that touches my very core. Something that moves me. Something that triggers passion, emotion – a memory, a thought, an image, or a prayer.

Lately, I’ve been silent. Silent in writing. My drive for writing once ignited with words and expression within the depth of my soul had to be released by putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, now nebulous and dim from what it once was.

I admit this year has brought about shock, uncertainties and even dread. My tears flow. Lord, what has happened? God, what is happening?

America: land of the free and brave! Are you still among us?

I sang as a child:

America! America! God shed his grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea.

And:

This land is your land. This land is my land
From the California, to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

 

Who can forget singing proudly in school with friends:

 

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.

With God as our Father, brothers all are we …

 

Lord, I can’t speak for others. No one can walk in my shoes. I certainly cannot walk in their shoes, nor would I want to. We all have our own crosses to bear. But please lift this burden from off of us and lighten the load, I pray. You are a God who is able. But even if You chose not to make the pathway easier, or the roads brighter, then help us as individuals and help us as a nation to allow You to be God again in our lives, at home and abroad, and within our own family.

I chose You, Lord. Whether I understand things or not, whatever tomorrow may bring, I know that I need You more now than before — and that has not changed. Your Word says there is a season for everything under the sun. Although I am not liking the season we are in right now, I know that You’re not a God of confusion but of peace, for You are merciful and Your love never ending.

Humility, respect, order and compassion is all it takes. Heal us, oh, Lord. We are sick, we need a healer. Please heal our hearts. Please heal our land.

“It is the LORD who goes before you.

He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.

Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

 

 

 

9 Comments

Filed under America, Reflections From the Heart

New Year’s Birthday Bash

A late post–better late than never–worth sharing, especially with all the negative happenings in our world of late.

So what does one do when a New Year’s Baby turns 40?

She throws a Masquerade Party!

My baby girl, who many call my mini-me, lit up the room when she entered. She threw one of the best parties ever. It was so much fun to dress up and see the different outfits and masks others wore. With great decor, music, dancing, food and just plain fun, what more could you ask for?

Here is a video and a few photos. Hope you enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Birthday, New Year

She Hurts No More …

A horrific day for our country. In shock, I watched the Space
Shuttle Challenger break apart and burn just seconds into its
flight. Five men and two women tragically lost their lives for
the good of all humanity. They lived their dream by serving
others. I may not have known them personally, but they died
as heroes.

Three months later, on April 3, 1986, sickness reduced an
eighty-six-year-old unsung Puerto Rican woman to skin
and bones as she lost her bout with cancer. She wasn’t affluent.
Refined. Or famous. But she was loved. Adored. And my
heroine.

When Mama called me and told me about Grandma’s final
moments, sobs stuck in my throat. She expressed how she
had sat at my grandma’s bedside, terrified, while listening to
her breathing in short, laborious rasps.

“Your grandma’s parting words were, ‘God is calling me
now,’ and then she gazed up at the ceiling.” Mama spoke dolefully.
“So, I asked her, ‘How do you know?’ But she didn’t
speak anymore. She closed her eyes and I held her close.”

Mama’s trembling voice was broken by sobs. “I . . . told her
that I loved her. And I said to her, ‘you carried me for
nine months.’”

I pictured that heart-rending image of Grandma’s gentle
countenance and Mama struggling to convey her love to her.
And I thought, Oh Mama, she carried you longer than nine
months. My insides ached, knowing that in her heart and
prayers, Grandma carried us all.

My grief came in waves. Looking back, I know God spared
me from becoming hopelessly morbid and consumed with
anguish. Grandma wouldn’t have wanted that. Knowing she
no longer suffered, I believed her final heartbeat didn’t mean
the end but the beginning!

I wanted to celebrate her life when I journeyed back to
help with her memorial.

Once a plump woman, Grandma had lost so much weight
in her final days. She had always loved a simple white Easter
dress that belonged to me and requested that when the time
came we’d bury her in it. My dress fitted her perfectly then. I
also asked that everyone wear white instead of the customary
black garments at her funeral.

White carnations—Grandma’s favorite—covered her
opened casket. I stood, my eyes caressing her still face, now
so thin. Vivid images of her life jumped in my thoughts. I
saw her on her knees pleading to God to be merciful to her
loved ones. I recalled her many prayers of gratitude for another
day. I pictured her lips mouthing words as she read her
Bible, with her index finger pointing to the sentences across
the worn pages. I could still hear the sound of her soft voice
calling my name. I remembered the merriment of her laughter
after listening to one of my silly jokes.

Hot tears blinded me and I couldn’t blink them away.
In my mind’s eye, Grandma came to me. I could hear her.
Feel her. Touch her. Her love, her hugs, her kisses embraced me.

We honored her memory and her passing from this life
into the next.

A gentle breeze blew the heat of day; the sun hid behind
the clouds. The scent of rain permeated the air.
As it started to drizzle, my heart comforted. Grandma always
considered it a good omen if it rained on the day someone
laid to rest.

Before long, her coffin lay in a crypt next to her cherished
husband, my grandpa.

At last, Grandma’s labors had ended. Thank God, she
hurt no more.

(Excerpt from Chap. 37 “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace” by Mary A. Pérez)

Footnote: Dear Readers, on this Mother’s Day coming up, gone from us for more than three decades, I remember my precious grandma who I mentioned in my book. Matter of fact, both Mama and I miss her terribly. Grandma was the undisputed, caring matriarch of our familia; a ray of sunshine in our entire existence. She rarely complained or thought about herself. She was a selfless soul, showering love and kindness to others. Impeccable in my eyes, she truly was our unsung hero. We cherish her memories.

1 Comment

Filed under heroine, Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace