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Love Spoken Here

Visiting Daddy in the early seventies, on weekends and during summertime, I remember how he loved to watch Lucha Libre. His favorite wrestler then was Rocky Johnson (the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Also a die-hard Yankee fan, Daddy loved his baseball team.

“¿Vite? You see dat?” Daddy shouted and pointed to the TV, asking no one in particular. “Man, dat Mickey Mantle can hit dat ball sooo hard . . . !”

Daddy and my stepmother Gloria were raising my brother Ruben. Yes, I was a bit jealous. Although Daddy spoke both languages to me, I never became as fluent as my brother had become in Spanish. I understood the language more than I could speak it.

Daddy enjoyed many hobbies. He knew his fruits and vegetables having worked on his father’s land in his prime. He loved gardening and showing off his avocado and gandules (pigeon pea) plants that he himself planted as much as he loved chewing and sucking the juice from raw sugar canes.

Although Gloria hardly spoke English, we communicated well enough. She treated me like her own child, showering me with loud smooches and tight squeezes. When she spoke to me in Spanish, I’d answered her in English and in my broken Spanish. In the mornings, she’d asked if I wanted “Con Fley” because she knew I liked cereal, and then asked if I wanted her to fix me a huevo frito, too. She was such a great cook; we all loved her comida. To see her working in the kitchen preparing mouth-watering delicacies was a common sight. Meals were her priority. She often cooked wearing rollers under a hair net, sometimes in a floral house-dress and always chanclas on her feet.

Back then, feathered friends scurried about in the backyard, a number in cages were nestling on eggs. I liked feeding the ducks and watching them swim in the pond. Not so much with the chickens though, I knew they were for consumption. But I couldn’t keep from watching in agony whenever Gloria ran after one, caught it, and then wrung the poor creature’s neck. It gave me the creeps. Then I’d stay clear from the messy job of plucking feathers. Gloria also chose whatever Daddy planted in the yard to compliment with anyone of her flavorful traditional entrées, whether her arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), or pernil (roasted pork). Each dish was first sautéed in sofrito (a mixture of bell peppers, garlic, onions and capers blended into a paste) in a deep caldero. The aroma alone made your mouth water. Gloria served side dishes of fried sweet plantains, large Florida avocados, simmering red beans with new potatoes, and always with a big pot of yellow rice.

One Sunday after a tasty meal of chicken stew, we drank café con leche, a strong espresso made with hot milk and sugar.

“Mary, did you like Mami’s pollo guisado?” Daddy asked, sipping from his cup.

“¡Si!” I answered, practicing my Spanish. “Muy bueno.”

“Oh, yeah? You wanna know somteen’?” Daddy’s eyes twinkled.

“¿Que?” I asked, blowing on my cafesito, too hot to drink.

“Dat’s no chicken you ate . . . dat was un pato.”

A duck? I stared at Daddy, and then at Gloria, then at the leftovers in the pot. I didn’t feel so good. My stomach felt queasy. I raced to the bathroom without a moment to spare when my entire lunch came up.

Gloria helped wipe my face in the bathroom and pleaded, “Ay, Marí. Perdóname.

I knew she felt terrible about what happened. But when I looked out the window, I couldn’t quit thinking about how I fed those cute, adorable ducks. And I had eaten one!

With no hard feelings over anyone about the duck incident, I enjoyed being at Daddy’s house and forgetting my troubles back home with Mama. I noticed the way Gloria fussed and cleaned house; the same way she enjoyed cooking: fast, thoroughly, and con mucho gusto. She didn’t like dirt. She had every chair in the house, even the couch covered with plastic! When time to clean the bathroom, she threw a bucket filled with soapy water on the floor, walls and tub, scrubbing, mopping and drying until everything was squeaky-clean. She never relaxed until evening when one of her novellas came on TV. Daddy and Gloria were affectionate and called each other pet names. Because Daddy’s skin was brown, Gloria called him, “Negro.” While many knew my stepmother as “Pita,” Daddy called her his “Mamita.”

Seeing their love in action made me smile. Although Gloria didn’t speak English, her hugs and warmth said more than the words from my own mother.

And she could cook.

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Gloria making her famous pasteles.

(Excerpt from Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace ) © M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved Note: Featured in La Respuesta online Magazine, Dec. 2013 Culture section

13 Comments

November 14, 2013 · 9:15 PM

This Lesson About Life

The lesson about life with its many twists and turns has been an amazing journey. I often think: What legacy will I leave behind when I’m finished with this race? What I do today, will it count for something tomorrow? When I’m long gone, will I merely be a faded memory, or burn in someone’s heart? Will my deeds be forgotten? Lost? Or buried?

I’ve read about some incredible women. These women did not allow age, status, limitations, or even imprisonment to keep them from their destiny. As fleeting as it is, they knew their self-worth and value in this life. Women like Mother Teresa who gave 50 years of service to the poor, the sick, the orphans, and the dying in Calcutta India. Women like Corrie ten Boom who spent 10 months in a concentration camp, who at the age of 53 began a worldwide ministry that took her into more than 60 countries in the next 33 years of her life. I didn’t know them personally, but they were admirable, inspirational women.

They made a difference.

Many endearing women have come into my life, not only as friends, but as mothers, sisters, and grandmothers. While each embodies unique gifting, each holds a special place in my heart.

One such individual is Elizabeth. She loves people. She is full of life, charm and wit. She believes in having a 90% attitude and 10% circumstance. She loves to laugh, crack a joke, watch the Kentucky Derby, share about her travels around the world, read anything that takes her miles away, watch The Lawrence Welk Show, and go right on dancing if only she could.

I’ve known her for over thirty years, but within the past couple of years, she is unable to use her walker. She doesn’t walk anymore. Yet her mind is still intact; her wits still sharp, as well as her tongue. My husband, daughter and I take care of her. While we attend to her daily needs, she is teaching us about life. Oh, and did I mention a horse and buggy rushed her to the hospital and that she was one-years-old during the Titanic?

That’s right, Elizabeth was born in 1911. You do the math.

To know Elizabeth is to have your life enriched.

As I age, may I emulate her love and passion for living.

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© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

20 Comments

October 24, 2013 · 10:26 PM

“Mrs. C”

We affectionately call her Mrs. C.

In her sixties, with remarkable zeal, she carried a charismatic and a gregarious personality. She was a Bible teacher, an author, a missionary, a powerhouse, a woman of great faith. She exuded genuine friendship in a Godly persona and took me under her wings. She held many prayer meetings in her home, and often prostrated herself on the floor on her face interceding for others. She became my lifesaver, my spiritual-mother. Throughout the years, I often counted on her for spiritual advice and much-needed counseling.

On one dreary afternoon, the sky grew overcast along with my hope and faith. Suffering from battle fatigue, I sat in Mrs. C’s den. I told her I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

“I can’t take it anymore,” I confessed, wringing my hands.

Patiently, unassuming, non-judgmental, Mrs. C handed me a tissue and gave me time to release the dread and pain in my heart.

“I’ve tried everything. Done all I know to do. Yet nothing seems good enough.”

“Has he stopped hitting you?”

I sighed, much relieved that he had. “Oh, yes.”

“Mary Ann, in his own way you know he loves you” she began, “but you have become ‘weary in well-doing.’ In your mind’s eye, you’ve conceded it’s not worth it.”

She honed in on my sentiments. I hung my head in shame.

“You know,” she insisted, “it is worth it all.”

At that moment, I wished I were stronger and smarter, and Mrs. C wasn’t so wise and read me so well. “But shouldn’t this be a two-way street?” I suggested.

“Are you and the kids better off without him?”

I figured she knew the answer before I did. “We . . . we have nowhere else to go.”

“Are you better off without him?” she repeated, and handed me the tissue box.

“Money is tight. I can’t afford to do anything else.”

“Are you better off without him?”

No,” I whispered and wiped my nose.

I felt weak, inadequate as a Christian wife, struggling to maintain a measure of peace and sanity in my household with four children and tending to a man struggling with his demons.

“Then, go home and be the best wife and mother you know how to be,” she said.

Sometimes, it’s easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk.

“But first,” she added, “I want to pray for you.”

That woman knew how to enter the Throne Room of God in her prayers. Electricity surged through my entire body when she touched me as she prayed. Before I left, she handed me her book, Wives, Unequally Yoked. I figured reading couldn’t hurt, plus the title intrigued me. I’d already devoured The Total Woman, by Marabel Morgan. The pages worn and underlined with a yellow marker, much like my Bible.

“PRAY HARDEST WHEN IT’S HARDEST TO PRAY”

I didn’t leave Mrs. C’s company the same way I arrived. Resolved in my heart not to become bitter, I determined to be better and left strengthened, with a made-up mind.

Mrs. C suggested that I study a passage in the Bible that read: “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the Word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

I had to admit this wasn’t easy. I’d used my tongue as a weapon more times than I cared to count and didn’t know if I could keep my mouth shut. But with renewed determination, I worked on dropping the holier-than-thou attitude and to pray for my husband more. This time, I prayed–not that my life might become easier–but that his might become whole: physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Note: Has anyone outside of your family meant the world to you? Made an impact? Enriched your life?

Throughout the years, many have come into my life, which I am eternally grateful for. Mrs. C recently celebrated her 87th birthday. Although not as active as once before, Mrs. C has touched and helped countless lives still going strong today. Because of her, many realized their true potential and reached their purpose.

Michael C. Dudash

Painting by Michael C. Dudash

© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

3 Comments

October 6, 2013 · 12:51 PM

The Little Green Dress

I held her close and cradled her head.

Soft, velvety cheeks. A round rosy nose. Dark hair like mine, but curly. Eyes, blue, that sparkled like the ocean I’d seen in storybooks. I kissed her sweet-smelling face. Her soft, pudgy hand with tiny fingers, curled inside mine. My new baby sister, Anna, melted my heart. I won’t be alone anymore and she won’t be alone. I caressed her face and whispered, “I’ll stay by your side for always.”

Soon left with the responsibility in caring for her, I became my sister’s substitute momma. I loved her and took care of her as best as a seven-year-old could.

The day we ran out of baby formula and diapers, I didn’t know what to do. I waited until Anna stopped fussing and fell asleep in her carriage (we didn’t have a crib for her). Then I ran to the corner to a hole-in-the-wall where I knew my mama and step-dad Jimmy were.

A blinking neon beer sign over the door clattered when I pushed it open. Dimmed lights hung from the ceiling. The hazy, smoke-filled room from cigarettes made my eyes water and nose run. Loud music played on the jukebox. Boisterous men and women engaged in a game of shuffleboard, others threw darts. Still others sloshing their drinks perched themselves on bar stools, carrying on like screaming peacocks.

“Whataya have?” yelled the bartender. I jumped at his voice, thinking he meant me.

“Hey Charlie, whose girl is this?” a man grinning with a silver tooth asked.

“She’s Ruthie’s little girl,” Charlie answered, pointing in the direction where Mama sat.

The all too familiar rowdy voices of my parents’ cursing at each other reached my ears. I ran toward them. When I told Mama about Anna, she and Jimmy started arguing over money.

I waited, feeling forgotten, wishing Mama would hurry and come home with me. Then someone handed me a nickel to play the jukebox. I remembered my manners, thanked him, put my coin in the slot, and punched in the numbers to Spanish Eyes.

At last, Jimmy gave Mama what she wanted, but he remained roosted on his stool.

When we returned home, we never imagined that someone had called the law. They met us at our front door holding my naked sister, wrapped in a soiled blanket.

“Is this your baby?” an officer demanded of Mama.

“Yes . . . yes . . .” her voice cracked.

“Ma’am, have you been drinking?” The other cop asked in a gruff voice. But before Mama answered, he stepped forward and said, “Turn around and put your hands behind your back. You’re under arrest for child abandonment.”

“Ma—?” I choked back the burn in my throat.

To my horror, the police officer put handcuffs on Mama and started telling her something about “remaining silent.”

Why can’t she talk? “Tell him, Mama,” I insisted and started to cry. I turned to the officer to explain, “We were going to buy milk and diapers for my sister . . .”

He didn’t hear me and shoved Mama in his police car. She looked at me; her face glistened with tears running down as they drove away.

“Where . . . is he taking my mama?” I choked, sobbing. I hovered close to Anna, ready to grab my sister, to run fast and hide before he took us to jail, too. In my confusion, I don’t recall what he said except that they were there to help and to take us to protective custody. I protect my sister, I thought. I begged him not to separate us.

The cop drove us to a children’s hospital for routine examination and to remain there for safekeeping until a suitable family member claimed us.

(TWO YEARS LATER):

A siren blared nearby.

I turned to Mama and asked, “Where’s Anna?”

“That drunken louse came by to bother me again,” she huffed.

“Mama, you said you were finished with him.”

She swatted the air with her hand as if shooing a mosquito. “He insisted on taking his little girl for a short walk.”

A neighbor came running and whispered breathlessly with Mama. Right then, a police car pulled up, its radio static coming from within. An officer climbed out of his cruiser and walked toward them. Within seconds, someone let out a cry, her voice sounded familiar. In shock, I witnessed my hysterical Mama sprinting down the street. I stifled a scream. My heart pounded in my chest. I didn’t know what happened, where she was going or why.

I don’t remember who drove us to the hospital. But once we arrived, a nurse pointed down the hall to where they cared for her. Except I couldn’t go to see her because I was too young.

I had to see her.

My legs trembled as I crept to her room and peered through the glass-paned door on my tiptoes. First, I saw a blinking monitor. Then I saw her—my baby sister—with soiled feet still in her favorite, green denim dress, tattered and torn. On her back Anna lay motionless, her curly brown hair matted with blood. Her face bruised and swollen, her baby blues closed tight.

I felt light-headed as I slumped on the floor, pulling my knees to my chest, crying.

That night, we returned to the scene of the accident. I will never forget the puddles of congealed blood that saturated the street. I wanted to scream. To run. To hide. Blood-soaked rags from my sister littered the pavement.

Others offered shallow words of comfort. “Don’t cry,” they said. “Think positive thoughts,” they chimed. “The doctors are doing everything they can for your little sister.” But all I heard was my sister’s blood calling out to me, along with my broken promises: “I’ll protect you,” pounding in my head.

A couple of days after, I awakened to the sound of rain and a car door slamming. I peeped out my window and saw a taxi pulling away from the curb. My grandparents, their faces grim and eyes downcast, walked to our doorstep. A shiver ran down my spine and a horrible dread washed over me. I threw myself on the bed, a knot lodged in my throat. Then I heard my mother’s wails. I curled up in a ball and covered my ears. God, it hurts! I cried. Make the pain go away.

My sister was gone. Forever. A month earlier, we celebrated her birthday. She had just turned two. I was nine, but felt ancient. Empty. And heavy. The weight of the world on my thin shoulders.

Like a fuzzy video tape, fragments of blurred images and sounds played across my mind: Anna’s dancing blue eyes, laughter like the morning sun, vibrant flowers . . . Mama’s primal screams, hushed voices, muffled sobs.

At the funeral, I held my breath and willed my feet toward the small white casket. Grandma squeezed my hand. I took my finger and stroked my sister’s face that reminded me of a doll made of plastic, stiff and cold to the touch. Heavy make-up could not conceal her bruises. Her grotesque head cradled by a bonnet, much too small. She wore a new green dress, cleaned and pressed, with no stains. Or blood.

I glanced up at Grandma. “Your sister’s in a better place now,” she choked. Then I placed a small cross under Anna’s tiny, rigid hands. My tears blinded me.

“. . . If I should die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.”

Why, God? Why? Why did you have to take her?

Anna, I’ll love you for always.

Mama sat by the farthest wall away from people, away from the coffin. Her eyes were swollen and red. She didn’t seem so tough then. I went to sit by her.

The year 1968 was a year of deaths that shocked and changed history. But the girl in her little green dress was the one who mattered to me. She was my sister. My best friend. She lay in an unmarked grave.

(FOUR DECADES LATER – a flight to Miami):

The area was a lowly, plain grass-field devoid of even a tombstone for my sister. No headrest. No name written. Or flowers anywhere. Just hard soil. Plenty of weeds. I crumbled to my knees and sobbed.

Anna, I’m sorry. Sorry I couldn’t do better. Sorry I failed you. I promised, “for always,” yet fell so short. If I could hold you now, I would.

Closer.

Tighter.

Never let you go.

If only I’d done more, fought more, loved more. I see myself holding you. Holding you so tight, that time stands still. Darkness cannot swallow us. Pain cannot touch us. Death cannot rip you from my arms. Sorrow cannot engulf us.

God, it still hurts . . . bring healing.

Before I left the cemetery, my brother and I purchased a tombstone and had it engraved.

Por fin,” I imagined my grandma saying.

Yes, Grandma, finally,” I whispered. “At last and long overdue.”

sister's tombstone

In memory of my sister, Anna R. Molloy, who was struck down by a hit-and-run driver.

InMyArmsPicture

© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

37 Comments

September 21, 2013 · 5:50 PM

Faded Roses?

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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 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, 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? That’s God’s business. 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.

I love the lyrics to “Every Good Thing” by The Afters:

I tend to be busier than I should be
I tend to think that time is going to wait for me
Sometimes I forget and take for granted
That it’s a beautiful life we live
I don’t want to miss the moments like this
This is a beautiful life You give

You’re the reason for every good thing, every heartbeat
Every day we get to breathe
You’re the reason for anything that lasts, every second chance
Every laugh
Life is so sweet
You’re the reason for every good thing

There will be days that give me more than I can take
But I know that You always make beauty from my heartache
Don’t want to forget or take for granted
That it’s a beautiful life we live
I’m not going to miss the moments like this
This is a beautiful life You give

It’s our family, it’s our friends
It’s the feeling that I get when I see my children smile
You’re the reason for this life, everything we love
It’s You alive in us
You’re alive in us

You are here in every moment, and I know that You’re every good thing
You are here in every moment, and I know that You’re the reason for
You are every good thing

For the love I still see in my children’s eyes, the laughter in my grandchildren’s voices, the warmth of my husband’s embrace, the scent of rain lingering in the air, and the taste of grateful tears streaming down my cheeks, I am thankful for the goodness of God in granting me another year.

Someone said that age is a myth and beauty is a state of mind. I like that.

Faded roses? No. May I grow old gracefully, forever blooming where I am planted, one petal at a time.

A heartfelt thanks to my lovely daughter, Anna, for putting this video together

A heartfelt thanks to my lovely daughter, Anna, for putting this video together

 

© M.A. Perez, 2013, All Rights Reserved

 

22 Comments

August 24, 2013 · 9:04 PM

Metamorphosis

My family was poor. As a child, by not having four-legged friends, I grew an unusual fascination in the behaviors of tiny critters, mainly insects. Curious in what lay beneath the ant piles, I liked to dig apart their colonies to watch the different activities of the workers, the soldiers, and the queen ant that I read about in library books. I never developed a fear of grasshoppers, even if they spat “tobacco” on my fingers, or of handling caterpillars that pricked when they crawled on my hand, or of sneaking up on lizards that left their wiggling tails behind, wondering what the funny red thing on their throats going in and out was all about. My fascination for those critters was a favorite pastime.

Not all school projects were memorable, but I remember one that stuck with me for years. When the teacher assigned a report on any subject, I decided to pick caterpillars. On a large poster board, I drew the four stages of the butterfly: (1) egg, (2) larva, (3) pupa, and (4) adult. I described metamorphosis. Though it wasn’t a Picasso, my work earned a ranking on my school’s hallway wall, posted for all to see, with the highest mark in class: A+.

One sunny day at recess, I found a black woolly caterpillar crawling in the shrubs and gently placed it in my palm. My classmate naturally was curious and asked to see what I held. When I opened my hand to show him, he whacked it so hard that the caterpillar flew out and disappeared onto a bush. And that’s when I morphed! Without hesitation, I slapped him on the face, hard. The boy stood stunned, mouth opened.

As an adult, I often thought about the word metamorphose. It means to change completely in nature or form.

I think about how alcohol deceived my loved ones, giving them a false sense of reality. After drinking, like the caterpillar many years ago in my book report, they metamorphosed into social butterflies fresh out of its cocoon. They felt invincible, glamorous or intelligent. Gone were the restraints that crippled them emotionally. They carried a false sense of bravado. It was then that they laughed wildly, conversed freely, and flirted openly.

The more attention and compliments they received from others, the less they knew the difference between genuine praise and mere flattery.

(A small excerpt from Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace ).

© M.A. Perez, 2013, All Rights Reserved

12 Comments

June 26, 2013 · 10:20 PM

He had a rugged, but kind, short-bearded face

He had a rugged, but kind, short-bearded face with laughing brown eyes and charm that wouldn’t quit. We came from similar marital backgrounds. We each knew what it was like to be in an abusive relationship, encumbered with alcoholic spouses, broken promises, and betrayal. We both shared the same desires, with honesty and trust at the top.

He waltzed away all traces of reservations in my heart. I felt he could be trusted. He treated me with respect. He took my breath away, loving me for me: tenderly, passionately, completely. He even—as they say in the movies—“made my toes curl.” Moreover, as much as he loved me, he loved my four children. And they loved him in return. That was the icing on any cake! There may not have been a lot of money floating around, but in our eyes, he proved himself worthy. We never had to compete for his attention. When his buddies told him that other fish were in the ocean (that didn’t include small guppies), he simple said, “Not like this one.”

When he asked me one day what my goals in life were, I couldn’t answer, turning my face as the tears fell. Burdened over daily matters as a single mom, clouded my vision for the tomorrows. After several dates, for the first time in a long time, I thought about a future and possibly having one with him.

From day one, I loved his adventurous spirit for the outdoors and watching him with my little gang. Whether those outings included dove hunting, camp-outs in tents, air shows, the circus, Disney World, or barbecues at the parks, he made it fun and special for the children. I was grateful for that.

After my ex deserted us, I had to find a job to earn income. But my being away had left the children’s safety net to unravel. One by one, serious issues ensued that needed my undivided attention. I could only do so much. I felt guilt ridden, like a complete failure.

Being a single mom took its toll; it wasn’t fun. I felt tired of pretending I had it together. My faith had always been the glue in my life but I had let God down too. I’ve been too busy, feeling haggard with the hustle and bustle of life, trying to keep our heads above water from the bills that flooded in every month.

“Are you sure you’re ready for the whole package?” I had asked him. Incomplete individuals usually search for fulfillment and happiness in others instead of finding their sense of well-being and self-worth from within. I had since learned that my completeness didn’t come from having faith in any man, but in a perfect God who loved me unconditionally, like no other.

With my heart on the line in this new relationship of ours, I wondered what if down the road we were abandoned? Deserted again. Forever?

Yet … I loved the one next to me, wanted him by my side and even believed that God had brought us together and superseded our circumstances. My heart was torn and pounded out of my chest. Would he share my faith?

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My eldest, Anna Marie, with her Pops

His silence now ate away at me.

Then ever so gently, he took his thumb, wiped my tears and whispered, “You are the family I’ve always wanted.”

And the four words I will never forget:

“Let’s find God together.”

Dedicated to Mark, my husband and best friend –
a Stepdad who stepped up to the plate in more ways than one

© M.A. Perez, 2013, All Rights Reserved

6 Comments

June 15, 2013 · 10:40 PM

Confession of a Daughter

I’m jealous.

I confess.

I don’t think I ever grasp this concept until now. It pains me to admit this, but it’s true. Whenever I hear other’s express their close bond that they have with their mothers, I marvel how grand that must be!

And it stings.

Mama used to say: “You can have ten fathers but only one mother.”

I heard that line growing up and believed it. After my parents divorced, I had three different step-dads. I didn’t want to share my mama, she wasn’t married to any of them. I wanted us to be by ourselves. But Mama was too busy for me. I’m sure she did the best she could, but nurturing wasn’t in her DNA. Left on my own a great deal, I was a neglected child.

Loneliness was my middle name.

At age nine, once we moved to Florida, my grandma was more like a mother to me. I knew then what a mother’s love felt like and it just wasn’t the same as Mama’s. Oh, to be sure, I love my mama; she gave birth to me. But because I had no choice but to grow up too fast, our roles had always been reversed.  Most of the time, I felt like I was the mother. I wasn’t a model teenager either, and couldn’t wait to leave home in search of love.

The miles separate, the years have passed, Mama and I have since aged. I look back and forgive my past; it has made me who I am today. I’ve had to learn to forgive my mama a hundred times over, whose harshness and demeanor become more passive and feeble with time. She’s not perfect. And neither am I.

I am a mother now. And I pray that my own children will always feel my love.

No matter what.

It takes work. Prayer.

And much forgiveness.

Our communication skills remain much to be desired. I’ll keep working at it.

Mother’s Day is around the corner. It has always been so complicated for me in choosing the right Mother’s Day card. Maybe this time I won’t have to keep putting the cards back on the shelf in search for the one that describes Mama perfectly.

Maybe, I’ll write one for her myself:

To my one and only Mama.Me and Mom

I loved you then.

I love you now.

No matter what.

Love always, your little girl.
© M.A. Perez, 2013, All Rights Reserved

7 Comments

May 2, 2013 · 9:56 PM