Tag Archives: reminiscing

Best Daddy Ever: My Hero

As a young girl, I knew I had the best Daddy in the world. Although my parents were divorced, throughout the years, he’d come for me.

I loved it when he took me to the parks. My daddy may have been short, but he was a big kid at heart and loads of fun. He had a knack for mimicking different sounds. Children laughed whenever he cried out like Tarzan on the jungle gym. He wouldn’t hesitate to push me high on the swing. I squealed with delight when he ran in front and scrambled away right in time before I could kick him. He’d twirl me on the merry-go-round until we couldn’t go anymore and tumbled on the ground from exhaustion. Me from laughing hard; him from running in circles.

Daddy worked as the produce manager in a huge grocery chain store. He was a hard worker, a model employee. A friendly, robust, people-person, he never grew tired of chatting with his customers and telling them jokes. His dark eyes twinkled with glee. The mirth in his thick Puerto Rican accent, combined with his animated personality, charmed all.

Sometimes Daddy caused havoc, but always in fun. He often mimicked the sound of a kitten near the produce stand at work to see the children’s reactions. Once an elderly woman hunted everywhere for the pobrecito. Then another time while whistling like a bird, he had customers looking up for one. He even imitated a newborn’s cry.

“Excuse me, sir, but don’t you hear a baby crying somewhere?” a worried customer asked.

“A baby? No, no,” he answered. “No baby over here.” Daddy chuckled as he related to me how he watched the mystified customer walk away, shaking her head.

Daddy told me the story when a little boy in a shopping cart kept staring at him the whole time, while his mother across the aisle weighed her vegetables.

“I smiled at da boy and asked his name, but he dun say noteen,” Daddy explained. “He just keep lookin’ and lookin’ at me, like I’m ugly or somethin’.”

“Then what did you do?” I asked and chuckled.

“I dun do noteen . . .” Daddy’s eyes twinkled.

“Go on,” I persisted, knowing of his pranks.

“I just smiled big and stuck out my bottom dentures at da boy.”

“No, Daddy, you didn’t!” I laughed, remembering him doing that very thing before, enough to startle anyone.

“Yeah, but then da boy started cryin’, so I got outta there fast,” Daddy said guiltily. “I dunno where I get these jokes. You got a funny papi, eh?”

“Yeah.” I giggled. “Muy loco, all right. Tell me the story about the goat sucker in Puerto Rico,” I said, wiping my eyes.

“¡Oh, si!” Daddy exclaimed, slapping his thigh. “¡El Chupacabra! Dis thin’ dat went round to all the animales suckin’ their blood dry.”

“Yep, that’s the one,” I said.

“Man, da people get so scared and say it’s some kind of diablo. They say, ‘sierra la puerta’, close your door, El Chupacabra is goin’ to suck your blood!”

“Ya ever see one, Daddy?”

“No, no, I never see dat thin’ in my life.” He chuckled and added, “I dunno if I believe it.”

“Well, it’s sure an awful scary story.” I shuddered at the possibilities.

Yes, my daddy has always been a natural born storyteller. I could sit and listen to him for hours. “Tell me again about the first time you left Puerto Rico on the plane.”

“When I left my home town Utuado in 1952?” His eyes flickered miles away, as he mused. “Flyin’ in dat two-engine airplane made me so scared. I needed to go to el baño so bad. The stewardess want to tell me somteen. Pues, I dunno what she say; I dunno any English then. She talk louder but I dun understand; I just wanna go. I try to make her understand me, so I jell to her, ‘I no spic inglish! I no spic inglish!’” 

As I listened to his broken English, I laughed until my sides ached and my eyes watered.

“Daddy, you didn’t know how to speak English when you were nineteen?”

“No hija, I didn’. Later, my cousin in New York explained to me that da stewardess just wanted me to put my seatbelt on. Ay bendito nene,” Daddy laughed. “I didn’ understand noteen.”

“Hey Papi,” I said, wiping my eyes. “Ya know what?”

“¿Que mi vida?”

“Ya still have an accent.”10493030_10204788142091228_5602024329688824434_o

“Ju tellin’ me, man.” He laughed.

Thirty years later:

My world shattered into a thousand fragments.

Along with my heart.

My hopes.

Dreams.

How so? When my former husband blurted, “I’m just not happy.”

After much heated words and screaming fits, I was relieved when he stormed out of the house. I felt ashamed knowing Daddy and my stepmother were visiting and within earshot in the guestroom had heard everything. By the time I went downstairs, Daddy was on his knees praying in Spanish by the bed. I stood by the doorway listening to his prayer, forgetting to move. Daddy, crying, glanced up and reached out his hand toward me. I went to him and collapsed, sobbing.

That day was Father’s Day, 1991.

The following day at the airport heartbroken and devastated, as we kissed and hugged to say our goodbyes, words stuck in my throat. He didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t sure what to do. But my daddy’s silence comforted me and it was enough. He wrapped strong, loving arms around me. I was a few inches taller, but felt smaller. At that moment, I wished I could stay in his arms and be a little girl again.

Today, with Father’s Day soon approaching, I remember how special my daddy has always made me feel. I still feel his love across the miles when we speak on the phone. At any given time when we’re together, I can still feel secure and safe in his arms as we embrace. His eyes still carry that familiar twinkle during his story telling.

Before long, my hero and I are reminiscing, laughing and enjoying the magical moment of father and daughter.

Note: My daddy will turn 83-years old this summer. He is still young-at-heart, full of lively, warm stories and jokes to share at a moment’s notice, and still very much a caring, loving, praying man. 

Te quiero mucho, Papi.

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Filed under Father's Day, Memoir

Thanksgiving ’76

Forty Years Ago:

I stared at the TV, hearing the drone but not paying attention to the program. Earlier I had eaten to my heart’s content, wishing I hadn’t stuffed myself the way we did our turkey.

Before too long, I felt a strong urge. Alone and frightened, my heart raced.

I pressed the button.

And pressed again.…

I shouted.

No one came.

In desperation I banged on the wall, yelling, “Hello, anyone out there? I have to push! I have to push!” Doesn’t anyone hear me? I . . . have . . . to . . . push! 

I pounded on the walls, about to put a hole through it. At last, a nurse ran in. Much to her surprise—and my anguish—she found me fully dilated and ready to pop.

A lot of activity happened at once. Oddly enough at the same instant, I felt like an ice cube. The nurse noticed me trembling and threw three blankets over me. She fetched Mr. Wonderful in the lounge, already stretched out half-asleep. After waking him, they gave him a hospital gown, a cap, and a mask. After he followed them to the delivery room, they instructed him where to stand.

With my knees bent and feet in stirrups, an assistant leaned me forward.

“Now push,” my doctor instructed. “Push, hard.”

I took a deep breath and held it, managing a couple of pushes, one or two deep grunts and a long groan, feeling the blood rush to my brain. “I . . . can’t!” I gasped. “No more. I’m tired.”

“Come on. Keep pushing. Bear down. A little more.”

“Arrrrgh!”

“Shush. It’s okay, honey,” Mr. Macho-turned-coach drilled. “Stay calm.”

YOU stay calm! IT HURTS!

“Humph,” Donny snorted.

“All right, now give me one big, long push.”

“It . . . b-burns!” God, I feel like I’m tearing! 

“Okay, now stop. Stop pushing a moment.”

PushBreatheBear downDon’t pushBreathe! My mind zoomed from ninety to zero. Oh, what am I supposed to do? Why hadn’t Donny and I completed those Lamaze classes? Finally, the answer came to me: In order to refrain from pushing, I had to do a series of shallow breathing. Pant. Like a dog.

Pant. Pant. Pant. Pant. 

Donny watched the whole process bug-eyed and ashen-faced.

Some macho-man he turned out to be.

2:56 a.m.

Gorgeous. Chestnut hair. Almond-shaped eyes. Rosy cheeks. Ten fingers and ten toes. I was in my teens and just delivered a beautiful, healthy 7 lb. 6 oz. baby girl. My baby girl! Thank you, God. With the ideal name for her—in memory of my beloved grandma and my deceased sister—I named her Anna, with Marie being her middle name.

Once home, I savored the miracle before me: An innocent life at peace in her crib. A life I had only known as bittersweet; a life filled with much adversity from being alone, cold, hungry, and frightened. My mind twirled with unanswered questions. Could I protect this child and keep her safe? As her mommy, I wondered if I’d always be there for her, and not fail or disappoint her. Would we have a close relationship? Would she always feel my love?

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

© M.A. Pérez, 2016, All Rights Reserved

About

 

# # # #

We celebrate my firstborn’s birthday on the 26th. About every four years, her birthday lands on Thanksgiving Day. From day one, she is a reminder of all I am thankful for. She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I thought I knew something about parenting and Motherhood, but when she came into my life, she taught me.

As I watched her grow, she taught me the rhythm of a mother’s heart beat for her child.

heartbeat

To my beautiful daughter:

Anna Marie, as you have already read in my book about some of the joys and sorrows of life that transpired before and after you came into the world, I pray you will always know that you are no accident. You were a blessing to my heart’s content then and continue to be so now. Thank you for all that you do for me and Pops, both abroad and beyond, as well as behind the scenes. We love and appreciate you.

Happy Birthday, Anna!

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Filed under Memoir, Thankfulness

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

Ageless!

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Age. Aging. Ageless.

I rarely think about my age but the body has a way of reminding me whenever I throw my back out or my knee pops. And yes, in the mirror I sometimes notice an extra line here, another wrinkle there, and as I gaze upon certain areas of my physique I find myself wondering, where did “it” go and when did “that” change?

From time to time I muse about my early years in having to grow up so fast, and then in my teens and young adulthood in raising four children. Next thing I knew my twenties were gone, and my marriage was deteriorating. Divorced in my thirties (I felt like a failure but ya know, the world did not end), and remarried by my mid-thirties (thank God for new beginnings). I can shout from the rooftop that no marriage is so good that it can’t be made better! (You see, I’ve been married most of my life.) Then when I approached my early forties, the seasons changed again for me, this time, embracing the wonders of grand-parenting.

So, in my fifties, as I reflect on this aging process—knowing I certainly don’t have all the answers—I’ve learned a thing or two about what life has dealt me.

I read in Psalms 90:12: So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”  This passage speaks to me and tells me to make each day count. I must remember to live in the present, not in the yesterdays or in the tomorrows. I must laugh often, love deeply, pray sincerely, and believe that my best days are before me.

As my birthday quickly approaches around the corner (like tomorrow the 27th), I can’t help but think: have I done all I ever wanted to do? Of course, the answer is a resounding: Not even close. Am I running out of time? I believe life is a gift from God and I’ll take each day and cherish the moment. He is the reason for every good thing, every heartbeat, and every second chance.

Age … aging … ageless …?

I’ll take ageless!

I may not know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds my tomorrows.

Sign2

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Filed under Aging, Birthday

Beauty For Ashes

Beauty For Ashes

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3
(Photo Credit: forashes.org)

My devotions today is found in Isaiah 61:3. Although this passage of scripture brings me comfort, I wondered …

How can there be a smidgen of beauty amongst rubble? Or ashes?

How is this even possible?

How do we see beauty in the midst of suffering, hopelessness, or despair?

When I saw my baby sister lying in her small white coffin, I didn’t see beauty.

When I noticed my mama with bruises on her body, I failed to see the beauty in that.

My former husband known for his strength, vigor and being sure-footed, morphed into a sloppy drunk after one drink of alcohol was miles away from anything charming.

To see my grandpa become a prisoner in his own body, his barrel-chested physic becoming sunken and scrawny was a far cry from beauty.

For my eyes to caress my grandma’s features, once so robust and plump, turning thin and frail after having lost so much weight due to illness wasn’t lovely.

Watching the back of my former husband after he pulled the rug from under my feet, and left me in the dust while calling out his name wasn’t a picturesque scene.

My 29-day old granddaughter swollen from fluids in a medically induced coma after her open-heart surgery wasn’t attractive to me.

Scars are not beautiful. Neither are bruises on the body or on the heart.

Death is not beautiful; the grieving of loved ones taken from you is never beautiful. Hunger is not beautiful. Loneliness is not beautiful.

Repossession isn’t quaint. Foreclosure is eons away from being delightful.

So how can there be beauty for ashes?

I believe it is found in hope. Hope against hope. Hope that the imperfect will become perfect. Hope that the pain will cease. Hope that there will be a day of reckoning. Hope that the scattered pieces will rebuild. Hope for healing and relief. Hope that the light will dawn and a new day will come. Hope that this too, shall come to pass. Hope in heaven. Hope that the best is yet to come. And most importantly, believing in the Blessed Hope that one day, we shall see our loved ones again who have crossed over.

Thank you, Lord, for turning my life’s ugliness into a thing of beauty.

Out of sadness and hurt, will come strength and victory.

Sign2

11 Comments

July 23, 2015 · 10:39 PM

Best Daddy Ever: My Hero

As a young girl, I knew I had the best Daddy in the world. Although my parents were divorced, throughout the years, he’d come for me.

I loved it when he took me to the parks. My daddy may have been short, but he was a big kid at heart and loads of fun. He had a knack for mimicking different sounds. Children laughed whenever he cried out like Tarzan on the jungle gym. He wouldn’t hesitate to push me high on the swing. I squealed with delight when he ran in front and scrambled away right in time before I could kick him. He’d twirl me on the merry-go-round until we couldn’t go anymore and tumbled on the ground from exhaustion. Me from laughing hard; him from running in circles.

Daddy worked as the produce manager in a huge grocery chain store. He was a hard worker, a model employee. A friendly, robust, people-person, he never grew tired of chatting with his customers and telling them jokes. His dark eyes twinkled with glee. The mirth in his thick Puerto Rican accent, combined with his animated personality, charmed all.

Sometimes Daddy caused havoc, but always in fun. He often mimicked the sound of a kitten near the produce stand at work to see the children’s reactions. Once an elderly woman hunted everywhere for the pobrecito. Then another time while whistling like a bird, he had customers looking up for one. He even imitated a newborn’s cry.

“Excuse me, sir, but don’t you hear a baby crying somewhere?” a worried customer asked.

“A baby? No, no,” he answered. “No baby over here.” Daddy chuckled as he related to me how he watched the mystified customer walk away, shaking her head.

Daddy told me the story when a little boy in a shopping cart kept staring at him the whole time, while his mother across the aisle weighed her vegetables.

“I smiled at da boy and asked his name, but he dun say noteen,” Daddy explained. “He just keep lookin’ and lookin’ at me, like I’m ugly or somethin’.”

“Then what did you do?” I asked and chuckled.

“I dun do noteen . . .” Daddy’s eyes twinkled.

“Go on,” I persisted, knowing of his pranks.

“I just smiled big and stuck out my bottom dentures at da boy.”

“No, Daddy, you didn’t!” I laughed, remembering him doing that very thing before, enough to startle anyone.

“Yeah, but then da boy started cryin’, so I got outta there fast,” Daddy said guiltily. “I dunno where I get these jokes. You got a funny papi, eh?”

“Yeah.” I giggled. “Muy loco, all right. Tell me the story about the goat sucker in Puerto Rico,” I said, wiping my eyes.

“¡Oh, si!” Daddy exclaimed, slapping his thigh. “¡El Chupacabra! Dis thin’ dat went round to all the animales suckin’ their blood dry.”

“Yep, that’s the one,” I said.

“Man, da people get so scared and say it’s some kind of diablo. They say, ‘sierra la puerta’, close your door, El Chupacabra is goin’ to suck your blood!”

“Ya ever see one, Daddy?”

“No, no, I never see dat thin’ in my life.” He chuckled and added, “I dunno if I believe it.”

“Well, it’s sure an awful scary story.” I shuddered at the possibilities.

Yes, my daddy has always been a natural born storyteller. I could sit and listen to him for hours. “Tell me again about the first time you left Puerto Rico on the plane.”

“When I left my home town Utuado in 1952?” His eyes flickered miles away, as he mused. “Flyin’ in dat two-engine airplane made me so scared. I needed to go to el baño so bad. The stewardess want to tell me somteen. Pues, I dunno what she say; I dunno any English then. She talk louder but I dun understand; I just wanna go. I try to make her understand me, so I jell to her, ‘I no spic inglish! I no spic inglish!’” 

As I listened to his broken English, I laughed until my sides ached and my eyes watered.

“Daddy, you didn’t know how to speak English when you were nineteen?”

“No hija, I didn’. Later, my cousin in New York explained to me that da stewardess just wanted me to put my seatbelt on. Ay bendito nene,” Daddy laughed. “I didn’ understand noteen.”

“Hey Papi,” I said, wiping my eyes. “Ya know what?”

“¿Que mi vida?”

“Ya still have an accent.”10493030_10204788142091228_5602024329688824434_o

“Ju tellin’ me, man.” He laughed.

Thirty years later:

My world shattered into a thousand fragments.

Along with my heart.

My hopes.

Dreams.

How so? When my former husband blurted, “I’m just not happy.”

After much heated words and screaming fits, I was relieved when he stormed out of the house. I felt ashamed knowing Daddy and my stepmother were visiting and within earshot in the guestroom had heard everything. By the time I went downstairs, Daddy was on his knees praying in Spanish by the bed. I stood by the doorway listening to his prayer, forgetting to move. Daddy, crying, glanced up and reached out his hand toward me. I went to him and collapsed, sobbing.

That day was Father’s Day, 1991.

The following day at the airport heartbroken and devastated, as we kissed and hugged to say our goodbyes, words stuck in my throat. He didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t sure what to do. But my daddy’s silence comforted me and it was enough. He wrapped strong, loving arms around me. I was a few inches taller, but felt smaller. At that moment, I wished I could stay in his arms and be a little girl again.

Today, with Father’s Day soon approaching, I remember how special my daddy has always made me feel. I still feel his love across the miles when we speak on the phone. At any given time when we’re together, I can still feel secure and safe in his arms as we embrace. His eyes still carry that familiar twinkle during his story telling.

Before long, my hero and I are reminiscing, laughing and enjoying the magical moment of father and daughter.

Note: My daddy will turn 82-years old this summer. He is still young-at-heart, full of lively, warm stories and jokes to share at a moment’s notice, and still very much a caring, loving, praying man. 

Te quiero mucho, Papi. 

6 Comments

Filed under Father's Day, Memoir