Dia de Los Muertos Season: Calavera for Mike Torres


In the motherland, El Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated on November 1 and 2 each year. This holiday has helped to make me less afraid of death and I love the way people compose “calaveras” for those who are both here and gone from this earth. Calaveras are obituaries done in verse-style. Most times these verses are hilarious, a little sarcastic, and done in fun to honor a person, dead or alive.

My friend and journalist PEDRO CHAVEZ totally wrote an awesome ‘calavera’ for my Dad Mike Torres that I must share with y’all:



“As promised, here’s a calavera for Mike Torres, old friend, damn good musician, and founder of a great band. From the City of Lathrop, no less. Saludos.”  –Pedro Chavezpedro chavez







Mike Torres

Desde Lathrop emanaban
Sus canciones, sus tonadas,
Era banda de familia,
En la sangre la llevaban.

El líder del tal conjunto
Fue un músico bigotón,
Mike Torres él se llamaba,
De su grupo fue el patrón.

La pelona disgustada
Le dijo ya me cansaron
Tus cumbias y tus tejanas,
Ahora bailas conmigo
Pa’ que conozcas lo bueno,
Moviendo huesos y canas.








Writing 101 Challenge: A Day At The Park: Inner Chingona Attitude Adjustment

lathrop park

With all that has been happening with Mama, I am way behind on my Writing 101 Challenges but, now that I am on overnight watch with Mom, it is a great time for me to work on my writing.  Today’s Challenge is “Death to Adverbs” and getting descriptive by doing the following exercise:

Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

I was beyond stressed out with all that is happening with Mama so I decided that, I had to, although at first,  I did not want to, go for a walk in the open air.  Usually, I’m pretty motivated to walk off my stress, today though, I was in a bit of a funk.  I had spent the past 24 hours completely unglued, tired, angry, crying and, what’s worse, taking it out on EVERYONE.  So today I was ASKED to get the heck out of the house for a couple of hours.

As I got to the park, I had this assignment in mind.  It was late afternoon and there was a mixture of heat and a little humidity in the air so I knew that I would be sweating it out LOL so I stayed in the Jeep for about 30 minutes because I “had” to pluck my eyebrows, puro procrastination was more like it.



Finally, I got out of the Jeep and as I did my stretches, I heard the mixture of laughter shrieks of little kids playing in the park playground.  One little girl called out to “Mama Vero” to watch her as she climbed up one the playground structures.   Some of the kids were trying to out-do each other on the swings to see who could fly higher.


As I continued walking on the path around the park, the most delicious breeze blew onto my face and all I could do was say “aaaaah“!   The breeze continued to envelop itself around me, cooling me off and refreshing me instantly.  To my right, I heard shouts in Spanish and the referee’s whistle  as a soccer game was in full effect, the majority of the spectators could be seen on their smartphones instead of watching the game LOL.    To my left, I saw about 4 or 5 East Indian gentlemen sitting on the benches in the shade talking.  What struck me was the different shapes of their turbans, as I have no idea of the significance, the only thing I could gather was that different generations must wear different types of turbans and there was also a little boy, turbanless,  sitting with them who smiled at me as I passed by.


Further up were a bunch of young girls and boys playing basketball and, because isn’t there always one close by when you need it?  A taco truck and a ‘palatero‘ a Mexican ice cream vendor.  As I made the turn toward my Jeep, the setting sun felt hot on my back and I saw a sign stating that the route I had just walked was a half a mile long.  So I adjusted my headphones and put my car keys into my secret hiding place and calculated that, if I were to walk 3 miles that I would need to walk this route 5 more times.

With every lap, I started to get out of my funk, to feel my stress leaving my body, to stop being so edgy and angry, and I decided that my attitude had indeed adjusted and that I would be able to go home and offer much-needed support to Mom, Dad and my siblings instead of BEING THE PROBLEM.

I was excited as I started my last lap around the park.   Parents were starting to pack up their blankets and children from the playground and getting into cars.   As always is the case, I heard one little kid crying because he wanted to keep playing and did not want to go home, I heard conversations about picking up pizza for dinner, and I started to hear the sounds of doors opening and closing and motors starting.   The breeze still had the same “aaaaah” effect on me as I passed that side of the park.  The soccer game was still going on but now it must have been interesting because the spectators were totally into the game and off of their smartphones!  The benches which held the East Indian gentlemen were now empty and I found myself looking around to see if I could see them walking thru the park, no such luck.  The kids playing basketball had finished their game and were now ending their day with another teen ritual, posing for selfies LOL.  I saw the palatero driving away on his bicycle with his ice cream, as there would be no more business at the park for that day, and the taco truck was still there waiting until the last of the futbol games were over.

I got to my Jeep, again did my stretches, and drove back down the street to the Ranch and back to help care for Mama.   This was an awesome break and I didn’t know how much I needed this until I was driving home!


My assignment was to try to be as descriptive as possible without using adverbs or words that end in ‘ly’ — did I do OK?  Were you able to experience what I had based on my descriptions?  I’d love your comments….

Turning the Tables: Letting Go


It’s here. We are that point. The one thing that all adult children fear. The one phone call that adult children are afraid to receive. The one conversation that we all dread. This is the day where we struggle between feeling hopeful and feeling hopeless. The day that our parents are getting ready to leave us.

Within the past 24 hours I have vacillated between screaming out in frustration because I want things to go a certain way, let’s get to a hospital, let’s get extra help in the house, let’s figure out a plan, let’s, let’s, let’s, LET’S do something to right now:  beyond sad and struggling to find resignation and acceptance for the inevitable.   I’ve always been afraid of goodbyes – and some very important people in my life passed without me able to say goodbye to them, much less say what I wanted to say to them.

Our collective hearts were broken today at 3:20pm when my mother told us how she wanted to continue living out the rest of her life on this earth.  On the one hand, she was so peaceful that it became impossible to fight her decision.  So, as I sit here calm one minute, crying the next, I realize that my mother has given us an incredible gift:  the chance to be with her as she goes on to her final journey.   I am so afraid of letting go of her, what if she wants to come back? what if she gets scared? what if she feels lonely? what if? what if?   The best part of it all is that Mom is completely alert and completely sure of what she is doing…she sat us down and told us her wishes and told us all that she loved us.

So many people go thru their entire lives without feeling a parent’s love, respect, and approval.   My siblings and I KNOW what our parents think of us, they have both told us how proud they are of us and how much they love us.   Their love and support will get us thru the very hard times to come as we learn to accept Mama’s wishes and to, as Mama always says, to let go and let God.