Tag Archives: Family

A Tale of Three Mothers

“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.”

 

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Spunky & Sassy at Sixty?

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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.

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Father’s Day Tribute to the Men in my Family

 

Picture2Dad: 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

About "Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit & Grace"

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Mother’s Day is Everyday

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.

MotherAndSon        MotherAndDaughters

And by the way, I also have an adorable son close to my hip! God is good!

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Weekend Getaway – Family Reunion

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Missing my loved ones in Florida, and thankful for the beautiful memories.

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Season’s Greetings

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous upcoming New Year!

 

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Photo credit by Leo Laredo Photography

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Amazing Grace – my granddaughter

December 2006:

I kissed her sweet, velvety cheeks. When her tiny hand wrapped around my finger, she instantly wrapped around my heart. Having just witnessed the birth of my first granddaughter, I was simply ecstatic. Grace Elizabeth, a little thing with a mop of chestnut hair and raven eyes, reminded me of the sister I lost so long ago.

Not long after, our joy was short-lived. Apprehension and a staggering wave of fear suddenly replaced excitement and joy.

Her doctor ordered x-rays, ultrasounds, RSV, EKG, blood work and an echocardiogram. “She has three holes in her heart,” he announced. His foreign words invaded my head: “congenital heart defect . . . coarctation of the aorta . . . a ventricular septal defect . . . an arterial septal defect . . . a bicuspid aortic valve . . .”

But three words snatched my breath away: “Open-heart surgery.”

Surrounded by family, we waited. Watched. And prayed.

That night, my daughter Angela and I shared a couch that opened to a bed in Grace’s room. Dreams and visions overlapped, as I drifted in and out of a fitful slumber. Nurses routinely coming in to check on Grace’s vital signs, administered meds and prepared her feeding tube around the clock, interrupted sleep.

But tonight was different.

3 a.m., a nurse instructed all residents to remain in their rooms behind closed doors. We couldn’t help but peek out of the window blinds. And we watched in horror as the mother of the infant in Room 1704 ran inside, hand over her mouth. Soon her wails carried across the hallway from inside. Other relatives arrived and held tightly unto one another weeping, lamenting, and grieving.

Hot tears flowed down our faces. I gazed upon Angela—my baby girl who always wanted a baby girl—and grieved along with her. Though she carried unspoken heaviness, she always remained strong for her household. But this was too much for any mother.

My eyes traveled and fixated upon our sick Grace. The doctors had said that Grace needed to gain weight, but she only grew weaker and tired more easily. Instead of eating, she slept during her feedings. I now watched her shallow, rapid breathing and listened to the heart monitor. Beep. A precious life. Beep. Hopelessness loomed. Beep. Fear gripped my heart. I said another prayer.

Beep, Beep, Beep. The rhythm of Grace’s heart monitor echoed louder in my head.

Come morning, more alarming reports:

“Murmur is louder.”

“Heart’s beating fast; enlarged, working too hard.”

“Surgery tomorrow.”

We waited for the day; we waited for the hour, but when the time finally came for her procedure, tomorrow seemed much too soon!

In the morning, we huddled around Grace behind a curtained room. Her daddy’s strong arms around her mommy. Her papa’s firm grip holding me up. Words failed to express our love for this precious twenty-nine day old child. We covered her with our tears, our kisses, and our prayers.

“Please Lord, bring her back to me,” my daughter whispered and cried out.

In a moment’s time, they whisked her away to prep her and lay her on the operating table, surrounded by nine surgeons. We felt helpless but believed God while we prayed that He would return Grace to us alive . . . whole . . . and healthy.

After four hours in surgery, the cardiologist reported, “Grace’s heart is very sick,” and added, “We didn’t know how sick until actually seeing it.”

The pendulum swung. We sat and paced. Paced and sat.

A flood of questions crammed my mind: How do you silence the sobs that overtake you? How can you calm the waters and keep the dam from bursting from within the depths of your being? How do you say good-bye when someone has captured your very heart and soul?

Nine hours later we were told, “Her heart failed when taken off bypass.”

My gut tightened. “Please, Lord.”

We gathered in a quiet room to pray. I studied the faces of each family member. The women prayed openly as they cried out to God. The men, unable to trust their voices, did not open their mouths for fear of losing control.

After three hours, the doctor’s assistant entered and announced, “She’s made it, but she’s not out of the woods yet.”

We hugged one another. Tears of relief flow freely.

“The next forty-eight hours will be critical,” she cautioned. “You can briefly see her soon.”

Emotions raw, I lacked the courage to see Grace lying still, motionless, and heavily sedated. “I want to see my granddaughter when her beautiful eyes are open,” I said.

Angela understood. “Mom, go home and rest,” she urged. “I’ll keep you posted.”

* Day One Post-Surgery, my daughter’s report via email:

Baby Grace remains heavily sedated, and has countless tubes and wires attached to her small frame. Mom, the list is endless: a breathing tube, pacemaker, rectal thermometer, catheter, and so much more. Arms and inner thighs are bruised due to multiple attempts to locate the main artery. The sides of her head are shaven. Her face is bloated from fluids. One lung has collapsed. Mom, I’m so scared!

* Day Two Post-Surgery, another email:

No movement, still heavily sedated. I held Baby Grace’s little hand and said, “Mommy’s here.” Grace moved her head for me and I whispered in her ear, “Mommy loves you so much.” When her eyes opened for me, my heart skipped a beat!

* Day Three Post-Surgery:

Mom, Grace is better and responding to my touch! Her swelling has gone down. They re- installed her feeding tube today and are giving 5cc of my breast milk per hour. She is eating now and will gain weight again.

* Day Five:

My first day to see Grace since her surgery. Overflows of emotions bombarded every nerve in my being. Hope crashed into fear. Joy into anxiety.

I must keep it together. My legs turned to putty. My daughter took me by the hand, “It’s okay, Mom,” and led me into Grace’s room . . .

I see her! I reached down, caressed her face and gently placed my hand over her chest. The incision was the length of my index finger.

And then her eyes! Those familiar eyes sparkled and looked at me as if to say, “See Mimi. I’m here. I’ve made it.”

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Twelve Years Later:

This precious flower continues to blossom and bloom wherever she is planted. Grace is our little miracle and she knows it! She has brought much joy to our lives and we are grateful to God for answered prayers!

Just when I thought I was too old to fall in love again ~ this precious one first called me “Mimi” at 8 months old!

 

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pink-rose-poem-karin-bestPainting By Karin Best                   Pink Rose Poem ~ Author Unknown

 

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IN Everything Give Thanks

Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most

important and by far the most life changing

~ Zig Ziglar

  

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We are Four Generations ~ few in numbers, but fierce in heart, a force to be reckoned with.

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My precious grandchildren keep me young at heart!

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Three of my dear children – I loved them since the first day I laid eyes on them.

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She is the perfect one for him – two hearts, one soul.

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He is my quiet strength, the perfect one for me.

I am a blessed woman. I will never forget when I prayed

for the things I have now.

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She’s Always On My Mind

I remember first holding you, so tiny in my arms.
Next thing I knew, you turned two, angelic, and quite a charm.
Your silhouette dancing in my dreams before my eyes –
Remembering your joy with my simple lullabies.

I imagine your eyes, your voice, your laughter,
Spending time together, nothing else mattered.
Thinking about you often before crawling in bed at night,
I loved you so much, never wanting you out of my sight.

I wish you could tell me what’s on your mind today?
What are the things you’re longing to say?
Would you have married a wonderful husband?
Live in a castle and have many children?

Oh, if only, if only, I could see you now,
I would run to you, hold you tight and twirl you around!

Oh, sister, there will always be a hole in my heart,
But I guess I knew that from the start.
If I still had you now to talk, share secrets, laugh and cry
I would not be here now thinking: Why did you have to die?

 

Dear Readers:

As we approach the anniversary of my baby sister’s life and death, what I have shared is very dear and personal to my heart. As my eyes mist with tears, I still feel my heart burn heavy from missing her! But please understand that I do NOT “blame” God for my sister’s death! Our God is Sovereign and I believe that He allows certain things to happen to us for His greater plan and purpose. (Isa. 57: 1). After all, His ways are higher than our ways.

Now, I’m not by any means a theologian, a preacher, or a Bible teacher. I’m just a layman, a simple woman of faith, with a finite mind trying to serve an Infinite God. I know that it rains on the just and unjust (Matt. 5:45); bad things do happen to good people.

If I am to be honest, I don’t always understand the mind of God. Howbeit, I purpose in my heart to trust Him! And if I am to be truthful, yes, my heart does have a few unanswered questions. On occasions, in my journey of life I have meltdowns, wallow in self-pity, and find myself clouded by doubts and fears. However, because of His steadfast love and His unfathomable mercy for me, I thank God that I don’t remain in that state of mind!

You see, I am a work in progress.

 

 

In memory of my sister who prematurely passed away 50 years ago by a hit-and-run driver. (To learn more of her story, click here.) She would have been ten years older than my first-born! I had to say goodbye to her when I was nine, just a month after she turned two years old. I remember so much pain and suffering as a child back then. In retrospect, I believe God may have spared her from something worse. I look forward to the Blessed Hope that one day we will embrace one another once again. She will not return to me, but I will go to her one day. And we will NEVER have to be apart. 

 

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Happily Ever After

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At last my love has come along
My lonely days are over and life is like a song
At last the skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up clover the night I looked at you
I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I could call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill I’ve never known
And here we are
For you are mine at last

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This was a joyous occasion to witness two hearts becoming one under God in matrimony.  A dream coming into fruition.

I am reminded of Proverbs. 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

To my strapping son, Daniel: I love you with all of my being; since the first day I laid eyes on you and held you against my breast never wanting to let go. You have found your good thing! May she always feel your love, your warmth and protection.

Sandy, our beautiful little ladybug:  I thank God for you. You are a breath of fresh air, a ray of sunshine in our family! I am proud to call you my daughter-in-love. Always stand by your man. May he always feel your love, respect and encouragement.

Pray for one another, support each other, be quick to forgive and NEVER take the other for granted.

“Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love. Never. Fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Hold on tight – the best is yet to come!

Photo Credit: Leo Laredo Photography  https://www.facebook.com/leolaredophotography/

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