Monthly Archives: October 2013

This Lesson About Life

The lesson about life with its many twists and turns has been an amazing journey. I often think: What legacy will I leave behind when I’m finished with this race? What I do today, will it count for something tomorrow? When I’m long gone, will I merely be a faded memory, or burn in someone’s heart? Will my deeds be forgotten? Lost? Or buried?

I’ve read about some incredible women. These women did not allow age, status, limitations, or even imprisonment to keep them from their destiny. As fleeting as it is, they knew their self-worth and value in this life. Women like Mother Teresa who gave 50 years of service to the poor, the sick, the orphans, and the dying in Calcutta India. Women like Corrie ten Boom who spent 10 months in a concentration camp, who at the age of 53 began a worldwide ministry that took her into more than 60 countries in the next 33 years of her life. I didn’t know them personally, but they were admirable, inspirational women.

They made a difference.

Many endearing women have come into my life, not only as friends, but as mothers, sisters, and grandmothers. While each embodies unique gifting, each holds a special place in my heart.

One such individual is Elizabeth. She loves people. She is full of life, charm and wit. She believes in having a 90% attitude and 10% circumstance. She loves to laugh, crack a joke, watch the Kentucky Derby, share about her travels around the world, read anything that takes her miles away, watch The Lawrence Welk Show, and go right on dancing if only she could.

I’ve known her for over thirty years, but within the past couple of years, she is unable to use her walker. She doesn’t walk anymore. Yet her mind is still intact; her wits still sharp, as well as her tongue. My husband, daughter and I take care of her. While we attend to her daily needs, she is teaching us about life. Oh, and did I mention a horse and buggy rushed her to the hospital and that she was one-years-old during the Titanic?

That’s right, Elizabeth was born in 1911. You do the math.

To know Elizabeth is to have your life enriched.

As I age, may I emulate her love and passion for living.

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© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

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October 24, 2013 · 10:26 PM

This Thing Called Tears

I consider myself a tough cookie. After all, aren’t I a survivor? I’ve survived some hard times: A broken home by age three, followed by poverty, hunger, homelessness, alcoholism, neglect, loss of a sibling at age nine, two near-drowning incidents, in a car wreck, juvenile detention home, taunting, brawls, racism, alternative schooling, marriage to a ruthless man twice my age, bearing four children by the time I was twenty-two—three  by cesarean—physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, betrayal, hopelessness, despair, rejection, abandonment, being shot at (he missed), divorce, single-parenting …

BUT God!

Howbeit, there is a softer side to me as well. This thing called tears. Yes, a family member has even called me sentimental. I have been known to cry after losing a pet, even an insect. I cried when I shot my first deer. I may cry when reading a book, in a dance, a song, during weddings, or when watching a movie. I especially cry when I hear a newborn’s first cry, whether in real life or on TV, I can’t help it, the tears flow. I sometimes cry when opening presents, saying goodbye, at being pleasantly surprised, while laughing, praying, or worshipping in church. Seeing mountains, rainbows, the ocean, a kitten, or a hummingbird can make me cry. I cried when I heard my grandchild call me “Mimi” for the first time. And at times, I cry when I’m hurt, scared, tired, or angry.

But I don’t want you to know that. I am tough. Not weak. Remember?

Now I’m not much of a horse person, but I know enough to know that a horse is full of grace and strength with every muscle, tendons and ligaments working in unison to support a rider at galloping speed. Yet, that same powerful, majestic horse is controlled by a bit in its mouth and will move in the direction the rider wants to go.

When I read about Moses, he was the meekest man who walked the earth. When I read about Jesus, He was all-powerful, yet kept that power in check. His meekness was not weakness.

So, I say: It’s okay to let our guard down at times and reveal our softer, sensitive self. It doesn’t mean we’re a softy, or a weakling, or a pushover. Power under control means self-control, and that is a virtue. After all, we are human with God-given emotions. Besides, God bottles our tears.

And because God loves us so much, I would venture to say: Sometimes God cries.

© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

tears

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Filed under musing, virtues

She’s My Mama

Mama lives alone. She enjoys a contented life. She loves playing Bingo and the group outings on the Metro-Lift with Charles, her traveling companion. They attend church together. Mama has a provider who cleans, cooks, and provides assistance. I have come to the place where I am able to let go and let her live her own life. While Mama has learned not to rely upon me as heavily as before, she knows I will be there whenever needed.

This past week, we celebrated Mama’s 79th birthday at an Italian restaurant. She doesn’t like her pictures taken and has always been shy in front of the camera. Rest assure, she enjoyed her day, having no problem in dining out and in opening gifts.

mom

Initially, when I shared with Mama that I was writing my memoirs she laughed and squealed, “Mary, what kind of book is that going to be?”

I chuckled, answering, “Stranger than fiction, of course.”

Later, with a more serious tone, Mama asked, “So, you’re going to blame me for everything that has happened?”

While our relationship and communication continue to require work, I assured her that I don’t blame her for all the bad.

Let me be clear: I do not hate Mama. I NEVER hated Mama. I hated her behavior. I resented everything and everyone that took her away from me as a child! Though my mind may still remember the neglect, I realize that nothing I did or did not do could have changed her then. Or now. I can only change myself and aim for better.

Several years ago, someone recommended Irregular People, by Joyce Landorf that helped me tremendously. Nearly everyone has a difficult or “irregular” person in his or her life. They can be emotionally tone deaf and not really hear you. They may be emotionally blind and not see you. They may even have a speech impediment and not say the right thing to you. You cannot please that person; you cannot change them no matter how much you wish to.

I can be at peace and know that the way Mama—or anyone else—chooses to live their lives, isn’t a reflection of me.

Yes, writing is therapeutic, but if I can show just one person that they are not alone in their struggles, then I have done something good. Through it all, one can have purpose and meaning and overcome.

In the dynamic of things, I felt Mama did her best.

As we all try to do.

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© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Mama, parenting

“Mrs. C”

We affectionately call her Mrs. C.

In her sixties, with remarkable zeal, she carried a charismatic and a gregarious personality. She was a Bible teacher, an author, a missionary, a powerhouse, a woman of great faith. She exuded genuine friendship in a Godly persona and took me under her wings. She held many prayer meetings in her home, and often prostrated herself on the floor on her face interceding for others. She became my lifesaver, my spiritual-mother. Throughout the years, I often counted on her for spiritual advice and much-needed counseling.

On one dreary afternoon, the sky grew overcast along with my hope and faith. Suffering from battle fatigue, I sat in Mrs. C’s den. I told her I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

“I can’t take it anymore,” I confessed, wringing my hands.

Patiently, unassuming, non-judgmental, Mrs. C handed me a tissue and gave me time to release the dread and pain in my heart.

“I’ve tried everything. Done all I know to do. Yet nothing seems good enough.”

“Has he stopped hitting you?”

I sighed, much relieved that he had. “Oh, yes.”

“Mary Ann, in his own way you know he loves you” she began, “but you have become ‘weary in well-doing.’ In your mind’s eye, you’ve conceded it’s not worth it.”

She honed in on my sentiments. I hung my head in shame.

“You know,” she insisted, “it is worth it all.”

At that moment, I wished I were stronger and smarter, and Mrs. C wasn’t so wise and read me so well. “But shouldn’t this be a two-way street?” I suggested.

“Are you and the kids better off without him?”

I figured she knew the answer before I did. “We . . . we have nowhere else to go.”

“Are you better off without him?” she repeated, and handed me the tissue box.

“Money is tight. I can’t afford to do anything else.”

“Are you better off without him?”

No,” I whispered and wiped my nose.

I felt weak, inadequate as a Christian wife, struggling to maintain a measure of peace and sanity in my household with four children and tending to a man struggling with his demons.

“Then, go home and be the best wife and mother you know how to be,” she said.

Sometimes, it’s easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk.

“But first,” she added, “I want to pray for you.”

That woman knew how to enter the Throne Room of God in her prayers. Electricity surged through my entire body when she touched me as she prayed. Before I left, she handed me her book, Wives, Unequally Yoked. I figured reading couldn’t hurt, plus the title intrigued me. I’d already devoured The Total Woman, by Marabel Morgan. The pages worn and underlined with a yellow marker, much like my Bible.

“PRAY HARDEST WHEN IT’S HARDEST TO PRAY”

I didn’t leave Mrs. C’s company the same way I arrived. Resolved in my heart not to become bitter, I determined to be better and left strengthened, with a made-up mind.

Mrs. C suggested that I study a passage in the Bible that read: “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the Word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

I had to admit this wasn’t easy. I’d used my tongue as a weapon more times than I cared to count and didn’t know if I could keep my mouth shut. But with renewed determination, I worked on dropping the holier-than-thou attitude and to pray for my husband more. This time, I prayed–not that my life might become easier–but that his might become whole: physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Note: Has anyone outside of your family meant the world to you? Made an impact? Enriched your life?

Throughout the years, many have come into my life, which I am eternally grateful for. Mrs. C recently celebrated her 87th birthday. Although not as active as once before, Mrs. C has touched and helped countless lives still going strong today. Because of her, many realized their true potential and reached their purpose.

Michael C. Dudash

Painting by Michael C. Dudash

© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

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October 6, 2013 · 12:51 PM