Tag Archives: memoir

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!

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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.” 

 

 

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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.

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Are Audiobooks Worth It for Authors?

Thank you Ella for a wonderful write up and sharing my journey as an author.


Are Audiobooks Worth It for Authors?

It’s not enough that Mary Ann Pérez released a paperback, hardcover, and e-book of Running in Heels, her autobiography of grit and grace in the shadows of her mother’s choices and her own abusive marriage. And it’s not enough that she has been visiting book clubs and appearing at book signings around Houston since its release in 2016.

ch12photo3resized-300x200   MA poster   blog image 2

Her audience wants more. They want an audiobook.

But is an audiobook worth the investment for an author?

Some say yes . . .

The popularity of audiobooks is on the rise – and not just with Pérez’s followers. Fifty percent of consumers say they’ve opted for an audiobook in the last year. They like the ease and ability to multi-task. Seventy-seven percent of people say audiobooks help them finish more books.[1]

Advocates of audiobooks point out that…     (Read more…)

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December 6, 2019 · 6:00 PM

Touched by an Angel

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

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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

 

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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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I Will Never Forget


Sometimes an event occurs and time stands still.

I know I shall never forget …

September 2001:

I had worked two years for a reputable high-end floor and textile cleaning company. I started out as a receptionist, and then promoted to inside sales. I sported around in a Jeep Grand Cherokee and I’d been married for seven wonderful years. Mark had become a devoted Christian, and we attended church as a close-knit family. In April, we purchased our home southwest of Houston in Fort Bend County. Five months later, while driving to work, my tranquil life was interrupted by distress and unexpected terror.

On September 11th, around 7:50 in the morning, I heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. As soon as I arrived at the office, I flicked on the TV to see the live broadcast of a massive hole in one tower caused by the plane’s impact. Co-workers gathered around and we couldn’t peel our eyes away from the screen. Black smoke billowed out the building, soon engulfed by flames.

We heard what we didn’t want to hear and continued to see unbelievable images that will forever be etched in our minds. My heart plummeted as I saw a second plane hit the other tower. Buildings collapsed minutes later and we all gasped in horror knowing that hundreds—thousands—lost their lives.

That night, President Bush spoke powerful words: “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.”

Freedom isn’t free, I thought, and freedom is worth any cost.

I thought about the word “freedom.” For the first time, within my own life I truly felt free.

Free from my own past … Free from the clutches of loneliness. Free from wondering where the next meal was coming from. Free from being a prisoner in my own mind, a failing marriage, a broken home.

But I also knew that in a split second, a life could be gone. I experienced that harsh truth the day I lost my baby sister by a hit-and-run driver. I lived through that stark reality from nearly drowning twice as a youngster. I re-lived that nightmare every time my former husband abused me, and again, on the day he shot at me.

An excerpt of “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace” –  Chapter 43

Your turn:

We ALL have a story. We each have our own memories.

What is your memory on that fateful day?

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Mary’s Reflection

When she looks back on her life, she sees a faded memory of a girl unsure about herself, frighten, lost, and insecure. She can’t help but to see sheer pain, disappointments, mistakes and heartaches.

She thinks about the roads she’s traveled: Roads filled with quick sand like the dry Sahara desert and potholes the size of Texas that tried to swallow her whole!

She thinks about the battles she’s fought for her marriage, her sanity, and her four small children:

She thinks about the struggles she’s endured from abandonment as a child and then again as an adult, along with the failures, and the low self-esteem:

She thinks about the sacrifices she’s made in walking away from an education, the letting go of a special-needs child for the child’s best interest, and in putting her dreams on hold,

She thinks about the love she’s lost in saying goodbye to her baby sister, her beloved grandparents, and her 15 years of marriage:

She thinks about the tears she’s shed in her loneliness, with emptied promises, shame and pain:

But as she looks back on her life, she also sees the lessons that she’s learned:

She sees a girl …

Not one who scratched and clawed her way to the top. But a girl who had just enough grit to float to prevent from sinking when life tried to weigh her down. Who walked on pebbles and used them as her stepping-stones to get to higher ground. Who’s childlike faith in the God above would blossom into something much greater than herself. While she may have had a father figure missing in action, she’d come to know her Heavenly Father who never left her side.

When she looks in the mirror and what does she see?

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A girl once dejected and rejected. She no longer is that sad, little girl. So don’t you feel sorry for her. Applaud her, because it was during the dry seasons that she discovered an oasis. Rejoice with her, because in the darkness is where she found a beacon of light. Admire her for rising above her crisis in spite of her circumstances.

She may have started out in the valley, pecking along like a chicken digging for worms. But then the Ancient of Days taught her to spread her wings like an eagle, and soar into the heavens over the mountaintop.

Don’t cry for her, feel sad for her, or grieve for her.

If you’re looking for a lost and lonely child, she is not here. Misunderstood, she may be; a wonder to many she may be. If you’re looking for perfection, she is not that girl; she still has flaws. If you expect to see sophistication or to hear profound eloquence, you may be disappointed.

Her past may even want to dictate her future, the voices in her head play a broken song, her name may even mean “bitter” — but she refuses to be that girl anymore.

What kind of girl is she?

A simple girl.

A grateful girl.

A blessed girl.

She believes in second chances & new beginnings.

She is stronger today for everything she endured. Her scars serve to remind her that she is a survivor. She appreciates the beauty of living life one day at a time. She surrounds herself by those who encourage and genuinely care for her. She clothes herself with a garment of praise, amazed by the wonders of God’s grace.

When she looks in the mirror, what does she see?

She sees a girl turned woman.

If wrinkles must be written upon her brows, she refuses to let them be written upon the heart.

She is more than a conqueror.

She sees strength, learned lessons, and pride in herself.

Sad? No. Alone? No. Afraid? No.

Not that girl anymore.

© M.A. Pérez 2018, All Rights Reserved

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The Day the Earth Stood Still

https://bible.org/illustration/build-me-son-o-lord

Thoughts …

What is your Father’s or Mother’s Prayer for your children? You’ll probably never achieve the level of accomplishment of General Douglas MacArthur, but when all is said and done, what will make you whisper “I have not lived in vain”?

Reflections From the Heart

“No, not again! Not now!” I cried out in the bathroom. I’ll call Marisa. She’s always been strong. She has it together.

I reached for the phone and dialed her number. When she answered, I blurted, “The test is positive! I’m pregnant.” She’ll lift my spirits.

“Mary . . .” she began. “How in the world will you care for another baby?”

Then again, maybe not.

“What are you going to do?” Marisa squealed.

I thought, If I knew that, I wouldn’t have called you. Wasn’t I the one supposed to get some reassurances, some guidance, some support here?

“I . . . I don’t know, I thought–”

“Mary, what were you thinking?” she shot back. “You can’t possibly have another baby! You’re only twenty-one; you already have three children, and now number four on its way? Your husband drinks too much, he works only when he wants to…

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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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