Tag Archives: nostalgia

Once Upon a Time

In the mid-60s, as a girl with my grandparents, every Sunday we rode the Metro bus to attend services at First Faith Cathedral. Once church was over, we hopped on another bus to downtown that took us to the Painted Horse, a favorite all-you-can-eat restaurant on Biscayne Boulevard. Adults ate for 99 cents and kids for 49 cents. I preferred the hamburger steak with macaroni and cheese, and even though they displayed Jell-O in every color to choose from, my favorite: red.

After lunch, we would head for the Miami Public Library, near Bayfront Park. Grandpa would walked on ahead, while I strolled along with Grandma under her umbrella. We’d stop by a large pond filled with giant goldfish and feed them crackers. The park was next to a waterfront where fancy boats and exquisite yachts sailed by. As I waved to them, I imagined how the rich folk lived.

Once we arrived at the library, I’d take the elevator to the children’s section on the second floor while my grandparents remained reading in the downstairs lobby. I strolled the aisles running my hands across the binders of the books neatly stacked on shelves. I loved the smell of those books, the textures, the colors, even the different lettering.

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My imagination ran wild as I’d choose a fairy tale, sit on a nearby stool and read about magical and faraway places. In my mind, I turned beautiful and clever all in one.

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I pretended to be Cinderella, overjoyed that the glass slipper fit my foot perfectly and that my uncle, the tall Prince Charming, singled me out to dance. I imagined my brother as Hansel and I Gretel, hunting for food, and then eating chunks of candy broken off the cottage with no evil witch in sight. I pictured myself as Little Red Riding Hood who saved Grandma from the Big Bad Wolf. While reading, I became all those characters and more—until Grandpa called for me, saying, “Mary, time to go home.”

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My real so-called adventures didn’t take me to faraway lands like those in the books I read. My adventures were riding around town on those city buses. If the bus was crowded, we stood while swaying back and forth. Back and forth. Grandpa held onto straps. Unable to reach them, I held onto the bars instead.

“Mary, hold on tight now,” Grandma cautioned. Grandpa stood nearby, ready to steady Grandma or me if needed. I don’t think he enjoyed riding on the bus much.

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When it was time, I liked to pull the cord to signal the driver to let us off.

“Now, Grandpa?” I asked, not wanting to miss our stop.

“Not yet. Be patient, young lady.”

“How about now?”

“I’ll let you know when it’s time.”

Eventually, the sunny, bright-colored Sable Palms apartment complex came into view.

“Okay, now, young lady,” Grandpa nodded.

I would kneel on the seat and reached for the cord, or sometimes Grandpa hoisted me up. I pulled on the cord fast, once, twice, and sometimes even three times for the bus driver to stop. Then swoosh the rear doors opened, we exited, and then the door swish closed.

Palm tree-lined winding roads landscaped and shaded the path to my grandparents’ home. Often coconuts fell from those towering trees and I’d run to pick one up for us.

I’ll never forget one day when we arrived home, I overheard Grandpa complaining to Grandma about standing too close to so many people.

“¿Tu ves, Ana?” he said, showing her something. “See? They stole my wallet.”

From the hall, I listened.

“Oh, no!” Grandma gasped, staring at his inside-out pocket in disbelief.

“We have to stand so close we are like sardines. Too easy for someone to put his hands in my back pocket; taking my wallet out without me knowing.”

It made me sad to think someone would do something bad to my grandpa, stealing from him as if we were rich. Then again, maybe we were.

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

© M.A. Pérez 2018, All Rights Reserved

I loved books then. I love books now. I remember the simple things in life as a child, having a vivid imagination to take me to some wonderful faraway places.

We all have them. What are some of your fond memories as a child?

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Filed under Memoir, nostalgia

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

If I Had Known …

If I had known then what I know now,

I would have stopped the clock and savor every precious moment.

Instead, I found myself encumbered with the daily task of trying to keep afloat in being a mother.

If I had known then what I know now,
I would have frozen time just to gaze upon your little chest, rising and falling with every heartbeat while you slept peacefully in your crib.

If I had known then what I know now,
I would have sung more lullabies while rocking you on my lap, nestled in my arms, given you more kisses, and chased away all nightmares.

I’d have tickled you harder, squeezed you tighter, laughed with you louder, and played silly games with you longer.

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I would have taken more walks in the park, built many sand castles, eaten more ice cream cones with sprinkles, dug for the best sea shells, rode on all the merry-go-rounds, climbed every rock, smelled every flower, played catch more, run through the rain puddles, taken more photos and captured every single moment with you!

I was needed when you were small; you relied upon me then. If I only could now, I would hold you closer still, wipe your every teardrop, chase your every fear, and never let you down.

But the tide has turned, I could only watch from a distance. The sun has set and hidden beyond the horizon. My silent tears serve as a constant reminder that the times are fleeting.
With every hour. Every minute. Every second.

My heart swells with pride to see that you, my children,
have blossomed and matured.

But if I had known then what I know now … I would have done things so much different. I would have hushed the madness with all the hustle and bustle sooner, and cherished those magic moments when you were small; to cradle you in my arms forever and never let you go.

© M.A. Perez, All Rights Reserved

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

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Filed under Featured, poetry

Circle of Life

Once upon a time there lived a lonely girl. Intimately acquainted with an empty stomach, she carried hunger in her heart, starving for love.

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In spite of her destitute and inner turmoil, she grew up and broke away, searching for love. Eventually she’d marry and have a family of her own, never dreaming how they’d fill the void in her heart.

 

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In the circle of life, her little ones grew to have little ones of their own.

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She felt young at heart again, and couldn’t imagine life without them.

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And the not-so-little-girl wasn’t lonely anymore.

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The end.

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Filed under Life, musing