Tag Archives: Family

Father’s Day Tribute

 

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

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Mother’s Day Tribute to the Women in my Family

All the Mothers in my Family

Becoming a Mom is watching your heart walk outside your body.

As I reflect on Mother’s Day, I am thinking about the mothers in my own family. Some of us had nurturing in our DNA; some of us never got the memo. Some of us got it down pat; some of us continue to learn by trial and error. None of us are perfect or have it all together. But no matter what, our bloodline flows strong, our hearts beat true. Children are a blessing. I believe as we look upon our children, young and old, the beating of our hearts never ceases to flutter. Some of us ease into our rolls, some of us, not so much. No one ever gave me a manual on Motherhood, and even if they did, the writer most likely didn’t have children of their own. Why? Because we learn by experience, and we learn by trial and error.

As I gaze upon the eyes of each Mother represented here, I see sadness of some unanswered prayers, worries about tomorrow, regrets of yesteryear, and the fear of failure. But I also see love, joy, perseverance, and tenderness, belonging, pride, and hope for the future — a better tomorrow.

One thing my mother always said and it is worth repeating: You can have ten fathers but only one mother.

Mothers, stand in the gap for your children. No matter what, never give up on them. And in our twilight years, may our children never give up on us.

© M.A. Pérez 2018, All Rights Reserved

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I Always Did Love You …

FaithHopeLove

“I always did love you, just had too many problems.”
Ten words on ink and paper.
Handwritten by her.
Pierces my heart.
Quiet pain.

Does she know I exist? Or care? Or want me?
I love her, look up to her; want to be her.
Unspoken. Forsaken.
Isn’t love also a verb?
Hidden shame.

I leave home. Searching for Mr. Right.
Run to him at sixteen. Happily ever after.
Young. Naïve. Taken for granted.
Thinks to mold me into his image.
His way or the highway.
Internal screams.

Motherhood. Baby having babies.
Crawl before walk. Stumble. Fall.
Clinging unto a strand, unraveling.
Faded dreams.

Years overlap. Encumbering.
Emotions are numb.
Hubby seeks greener pastures.
Two-timer. Tosses me to the wolves.
Abandon.

Grown children look back.
Open arms. Nostalgic.
Rebuild the fences.
Dying to live.
Forgive.

 

Original poem by Mary A. Pérez

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Boricuas

We visited my paternal grandparents. My grandpa was Don Angel (pronounced “Annhel”), and my grandma, Doña María. Upon our arrival, we politely greeted them the way Daddy had taught us to, by asking for their blessing in Spanish:

¿Bedición?

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¡Dios te bendiga!” they answered, opening their arms, smothering us with bear hugs and wet kisses.

Abuelo was born in 1908 and Abuela in 1907. Both were born in Utuado Puerto Rico and married in their early twenties, ultimately having ten children. Abuela stayed home attending to her brood while Abuelo supported his family as a farmer. (Rumor has it he made a little Moon Shine too). On twenty-five acres, he tended to bananas, tobacco and coffee crops. He raised chickens and goats and even owned cows that he milked.

Daddy favored Abuelo; everyone said those two could be brothers.

 

(An excerpt from Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace)

© M.A. Pérez 2018, All Rights Reserved

 

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My Reasons for Writing

One of my cousins from across the miles posed a couple of great questions, giving me food for thought. He asked:

Why do you write? And why do you write about the family?

My answer to him:

First of all, I write because I know I have a story to tell. As a kid, eventually I discovered we were dirt poor. In my teens looking back, I realized that I was neglected and forced to grow up too fast. I was ashamed of my childhood and bitter for being my mama’s mother. As I “matured,” settled down, married and had children of my own, along the way I found I was a stronger person because of some of the things that I endured as a child.

Once I embraced the God of my grandparents, I became a much better person, too. NOT that I had it all together; I still had a few things to learn. But I learned that it was much better to let go of the bitterness and to forgive, than to hold onto the junk.

I also learned that I didn’t have to be a product of my environment! I could rise above the ashes like a phoenix and become so much better. That was my freedom — still is — and God has called us to liberty, not to be in prison. Sure I made some mistakes along the way, but I learned from them as well. It starts with a made-up mind! While I’ve managed to confront my past, I believe my past hasn’t spoiled me, but has prepared me for the future. I may not be perfect but whenever I stumble, I can wipe the crud off and walk on. I share my story that I might help one person – and if I have done that then I have done a good thing and God gets the glory. Photo Credit: LifeOverCancerBlog.typepad.com

I mention family because the little girl growing up — although she may have felt like she was all alone most times — was not an orphan and did not live on an island unto herself. There were others around who helped to nurture her in one fashion or another, even, the antagonists in her story. And yes, some were heroes. She cannot tell her story without mentioning those she looked up to. For it to be truthful, she had to address some real and raw emotions and mentioned the flaws — the good, the bad and the ugly.

The story is not fiction. It is written how she remembers the events that took shape in her life as a child, a teenager and into her adulthood. All the memories do not take her to a happy place. She has had to dig deep to find them. To some, those “happy” places may be simple and insignificant, but to her they were her life-line.

His response:  

I am keeping this to remind me what it takes to be selfless.

 Thanks 

CD

I did not expect THAT answer 

© M.A. Perez 2017, All Rights Reserved

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Precious Moments

This simple video here will mean a lifetime of precious memories …

You see, Daddy is in the beginning stages of forgetfulness (I don’t like the word dementia). While his short term memory may be failing, he still can recall things that took place several years ago. Those memories are forever embedded within the recesses of his memory bank. Daddy has always been a story teller, just visit here https://maryaperez.com/2013/06/07/i-no-spic-inglish/  

On my last visit, it dawned on me that I should record him recanting one of his many stories regarding his first job, and also touch on the quirkiness about that particular story. His mind was fully intact, and if he ventured off, I easily steered him back on track. After we were done, I replayed the recording back to him. As he watched it, he became animated with emotions as if the entire event became alive and he was actually reliving the story. He pointed with eyebrows raised, agreed with what was being said, laughed and even had tears in his eyes! He looked up at me and said, “When your daddy is gone, you’ll always have this to remember, eh?”

Back home in Texas, every time I play this video, it brings back tears to my eyes. I realize the possibility that in the days to come Daddy may struggle with his memory more and more. I think often about my mama and other elderly members in the family. I wonder if we would record them interacting and then play back those recordings to them, that maybe it can help our loved ones remember. Just like hearing a song we haven’t heard in a while and the way it will bring us back to a certain place in time. One thing that does not work, is to belittle them because they forgot or behaved in a way than they normally would. I watched how when one of us tried to correct Daddy when he said something he shouldn’t have said, how it would escalate into such a ruckus. I noticed if the behavior was ignored or directed into something else positive, the drama pretty much ended. Sort of like in dealing with children …

His eyes still twinkle with glee, the mirth in his thick Puerto Rican accent, combined with animated personality is my daddy – I will love and cherish him forever!

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December 6, 2017 · 7:50 PM

Celebrating Mama

Someone said, crying is a way your eyes speak when your mouth can’t explain how broken your heart is.

We recently celebrated Mama’s birthday. While the company and the food were great, I saw Mama in a different light. It pained me to see her that way. Although she had a smile on her face, her eyes reflected pain and discomfort.

Mama is aging and more feeble with time. She’s more of a shut in these days and she can barely move. Many thoughts go through my head, along with memories of my difficult childhood past. But that was then and this is now. Mama is Mama – and she’s my Mama. I’ll take her anyway I can get her – flaws and all. Hell, I even have flaws! But what troubles me is not what she and I have gone through together; what troubles me is the present. She is fearful of saying what ails her. She doesn’t like the idea of going to a hospital, nor the thought of possibly living in a nursing home one day. She’d rather suffer alone than communicate about her ailments in a doctor’s ear. I don’t know what to do. She’s never been an easy patient and she is stubborn.

I. Feel. Hopeless.

I’m praying that the Lord shows us what to do and for Mama to be at peace. I just want her to know that she’s loved and that we want only the best for her. I need her to feel safe and secure and to know beyond a shadow of doubt; she does not have to fear.  Fear has torment. It will consume the mind and crush any hope one might dare to have. Fear troubles the heart and makes one weary.

I believe God is bigger than our fears. I believe He wants us to cast all of our troubles to Him and not grow weary. We are not immune to the sufferings of this life, but because of the Lord there is always hope. All He ask is that we put our trust in Him and lay our burdens down at His feet. He says to trust Him and lean not to our own understanding. Not always an easy feat, I admit.

Words may escape me at times. I may grow impatient and miscommunicate my true intentions; my grit and courage may fall short. But while I have breath in my being I will never give up on the goodness of God! We are a work in progress. I know He will make a way. Look how far He has brought us – He’s not finished with any of us yet!

I. Feel. Hopeful.

I choose to allow forgiveness to remain in my heart. While Mama is still here, I will let her know that she is valued and loved. While it’s true our roles may have been reversed, she is still my Mama. And you know what?

I. Still. Need. My. Mama.

So Mama, I celebrate you. Hand in hand, we will find a way to make everything all right.

I. Love. You.

 

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“The moment I started it, I had echoes of ‘The Glass Castle’. This is recommended for anyone who loved Walls’ memoirs, as they have some strong parallels.” – Kath Cross (blogger).

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Hurricane Harvey – 8/26/17

Once again, childhood memories of sharing my birthday with yet another devastating hurricane resurfaced.

The rains came and the floodwaters rose, while we were out of town on vacation for my birthday week. Daughter and Mom remained at the house with a generator. We received continued updates, videos, texts and photos regarding the storm’s status, which left us unnerved and on edge. Thank God, for the report from home that offered few moments of levity:

“OK Mom, we lost power.”

“Grandma is stuck in the Power-Lift chair.”

“One fridge is out.”

“Pool in back and in front yard.”

“Water is about a foot within the house.”

“We are good so far.”

“Grandma is like, ‘You said we were gonna have ice cream at midnight …'”

“No internet.”

“Water level is down.”

“Some water seepage, possible foundation issues due to flooding.”

“Was able to go for a quick gas run.”

“The Mayor of Houston has imposed a curfew … Grandma and I were gonna go out!”

“Electricity! Yay!”

Soon we’ll be headed back for home, taking the routes with the less flooding for travel. My heart and mind are filled with conflicting emotions. I am thankful to the Lord for watching over my loved ones, knowing that many lives were tragically impacted by this hurricane due to the flood waters. I also realize as hard as it is, losing stuff pales in comparison to losing loved ones. May we count our blessings – still having those safe and sound that mean the most, well, everything else just seems petty.

My prayer: May our roots be grounded in faith strong enough not to be overwhelmed, even during the storms of life.

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From the end of the earth will I cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)

 

 

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The Birthday Boy

Hello my fellow blog followers and fans!

Sometimes life throws you a curveball – sometimes you duck, sometimes it hits you right upside your head. How you react will determine what kind of player you are.

So what do you do when fear knocks on your door? Do you face your giant, or do you stick your head in the sand? Remember there are two sides of F.E.A.R.: Forget Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise. Takes grit, doesn’t it? More importantly, it takes God’s grace, too.

Eight months prior, was such a trying time for us with all the emotional roller-coaster from one minute to the next. We weren’t sure what the next second would bring, let alone the next day. The days and nights were difficult ones. But I’m here to tell you that the support, prayers, and genuine love from family and friends made all the difference in the world! And I am happy to report that my husband is a walking miracle; (read about it here), and I am so thankful for the goodness and mercy of God.

I recently threw a surprised party for the Birthday Boy, also called the Miracle Man, with many of our close and precious friends. It was an incredible turn out and my hubby was indeed taken by surprised. He couldn’t believe how many people were able to keep the secret from him! Whew!

On July 21st, we celebrated Mark’s life. And I would like to share some of those moments with you through this slide.

 

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He was a Great Man

This upcoming Memorial Day as I remember Florentino Mendez, my mind goes back to when I was a little girl sitting at my grandpa’s feet.

I sat Indian-style and watched him scatter newspapers on the floor, laying out the shoes in a neat row and placing an old wooden box beside them. Inside the box, he kept brushes, old socks, rags, and cans of black polish.

“Do you know what I’m getting ready to do, young lady?” Grandpa asked.  great grandpa

“You gonna spit and shine shoes,” I squealed.

With one hand in a shoe and the other in an old sock, Grandpa rubbed the wax back and forth, polishing the leather. I never tired from following his hands, moving like flashes of lightning.

He always rose before dawn and believed in the saying, “The early bird catches the worm.” He prided himself on discipline, stemming from his years in the military. On a weekly basis, he cleaned our shoes, the way he said he had learned in the Army.

He walked me to school and back, logging in about a mile and a half each way. Rain or shine, I counted on his presence waiting for me after class.

I loved him dearly. Always clean-shaven, he smelled like Mennen Skin Bracer and Vitalis. He was average in stature, had fair skin, gray hair, and quick eyes with a broad smile and a jolly laugh that made his belly jiggle.

Years later as an adult, I would never forget how an unsettling aura of death struck me when I first walked into the hospital room. I shuddered and gingerly approached the form buried under layers of covers. The head of his bed was raised, the profile barely recognizable to me.

“Grandpa…?”

A pale, thin face moved; eyes hardly opened. Those eyes, once sharp, were feeble and dull. Yellow paper skin hung loosely from bones. Large purple veins ran up and down his hands like a roadmap. Those hands, once strong and beefy, quick and nimble, felt cold, boney and fragile. The same hands once steady in his military days, guided, and comforted me in my youth, were the same ones I tenderly held now.

I struggled to keep my composure. I knew he was weary. To see him lose his dignity pained me, lying there so helpless, a prisoner in his own body.

Great Grandpa20

My 19-year-old grandpa, Florentino Mendez – 1916

Lost in my thoughts, my eyes roamed and paused on Grandpa’s wristwatch on the bedside table.

Time. I picked up the watch and held it. Tick-tock. Precious time. Tick-tock. Running out. As Grandpa dozed off, I sat at his bedside, praying for God to hush the raging of my heart.

Two months after his eighty-fourth birthday, my beloved grandpa sadly passed away.

Today, I remember Florentino Mendez: veteran, brother, husband, father, grandpa, uncle, friend – he was a great man – I honor his life.

© M.A. Perez 2017, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Legacy, Memoir, Memorial Day tribute, veteran