Aaay! The Showers of Change

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This happened earlier tonight:

“The time has come to change Mama’s shower curtain. Tried to find something Daddy would like. As I was looking, I started telling the señoras working there what I was doing and, like true Latinas, they do that “aaay” thing, hug me and tell me their stories of throwing things out/saving things that their parents left behind and we were all almost crying. It did feel nice to be completely understood tonight.”

It’s a kinship borne of sadness, bittersweet memories, of feeling like there’s a hole in you – some days, it feels all-consuming, others it’s more of a dull ache.   And then when you finally are able to laugh, feel happier, able to move forward from your loss, you still miss them.    Once you lose a parent, you 100% understand what a person is going through when their mother or father passes.   No words are necessary.  And, yes, you really do feel that “aaay” in your heart when you know that someone has lost their parent!

It’s so hard for us to throw any of Mama’s things out sometimes.  I had to text the Torres5 to gently let them know that we would be changing the shower curtain, I feel like, if I don’t tell them or “ask” their permission to make changes, that Mama won’t be right with it either.  And knowing my mother, she would be all for my changing the shower curtain.   Her shower curtain had circles of green, blue, and lavender so I chose more “guy” colors – black and gray with his own circles.  Dad really liked it.   Even though I feel like “aaay”, it really is time and Dad has really been working on beautifying our bathroom lately so he’s excited to change-up the look of the place.

Dad is so funny.  Right away, he starts working on one of his “home-improvement” projects and typical me, “OMG Dad, que haces?”.  Turns out he’s making me a little shelf for me to put my “jabon” on, a soap dish, that no one else can use.   Big smiles that remind me how blessed I am to be able to enjoy the simplest things in my life with my father, that it’s sometimes OK to move forward and keep living life.

We all do change in different ways, at different levels, on different timelines.  Sometimes, those “aaay” moments are a good way to track your progress (or not), the “aaays” certainly keep you honest and, if you’re lucky, you are able to feel your feelings instead of backing them up, holding them all in.  What a relief to be able to feel sadness, joy, anger, uncertainty, pain, loss, blessings…isn’t it funny how a simple shower curtain or a soap dish can change your outlook on life?

To be able to share your “aaay” moments with people who understand is even better.  Thank God for those women in Walmart who “got it” and helped me see that, sometimes, change is a positive thing for me, for Dad, for my siblings, and for Mama.

 

Mike Torres, my father, working on my soap dish for my “jabon”… aaay!

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“Cuidate!” sez Inner Chingona (and Mama)

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If you could see me now…hair is in complete disarray,  my feet were cold and all I could find was a black sock and a white sock, my clothes look baggy, maybe I’ve lost more weight, I had been unable to keep anything down until today, and it’s been tea and egg/beans in a corn tortilla.  Still weak, and believe it or not, I’m actually way better than I have been for the past couple of weeks.

I’ve never been sick like this in my life, ever.    Started off with a bad sore throat and fever, did I stay home?  No.  Another week passes and I’m still not 100% but there I go, with a cough starting up, still working it.  Cussing myself out because I knew I wasn’t doing the best job in caring for myself, that I was not feeling right, and I hate doing meetings when I’m not at my best.

When the doctor saw me last week, the first thing he said after he put the stethoscope to my back, near my lungs, and asked me what my lifestyle was like, he said that “you have nothing left”, and that I would need to put that phone away (as it was buzzing constantly) and rest, rest, rest, rest and then rest or else I’d end up with full-on pneumonia and in the hospital.    I had a very short burst of energy after I got home from this appointment and then I was OUT.   That was exactly seven days ago.

My dreams (and nightmares) have pretty much been related to all of my projects and work, things left undone, people depending on me.  I’d wake up practically in tears because I was completely unable to do anything, and, as fast as I woke up, I’d be down again and out of it for another 3 to 4 hours.   The crazyass coughing felt like I was getting beat up, little by little.  The fatigue was nothing like I’ve ever felt in my life and I knew, that no matter what was happening in event-land that there was nothing that I could physically do about it — except what I was doing, getting rest.

This is what scared me the most:  that I would stuck in this intense ‘cansancio‘ mode forever.     Thank you JesusLordVirgenOfG, today I was able to get up and stay up, albeit sitting in Mama’s chair watching TV with a blanket and sleeping on/off all day, but I was up – finally. You better know I wanted to clean this house and Dad had to stop me from myself LOL.

As I ease back into my life, I know that I will need to take care of myself as I have taken care of others — I’m deathly afraid of a relapse and found these tips on how to get myself back on track, maybe they’ll help you too:

1. Sleep more than you ever have.

I am talking 10 hours. This is my number one secret — even when you already sick. Seriously, this season, before you go out and by products, pills, medications and so on — start with giving yourself 10 hours of sleep for three to five days. Repeat this once every month. Ten hours (or something significantly more than you’re used to) is great way to give your cells extra repair time and your immune system enough time to recharge. Studies clearly show that sleep deprivation weakens your immune system.

2. Shelter yourself.

If you’re starting to feel run down or sick from stress, crawl into your turtle shell and opt out of all stressful situations for a few days. This holds true for work, home, or physical stress. Your body is telling you that you need to take some time for yourself. The world will not fall apart, and you’ll be stronger and ready to take on more once you’re well. There’s both animal and human studies that show that stressful situations can lower the various arms of the immune system.

3. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.

Eating a better diet not only helps your body recover faster – it helps build up your immune military so it’s more resilient and dynamic. Specifically, the things that make the most difference: eat more cruciferous vegetables, cut out the processed foods (although it’s still unclear at this point which additives might be the culprit). Last, but most important: cut the sugar.

4. Eat — don’t buy — your micronutrients.

There’s little evidence that popping a bunch of vitamins or supplements with micronutrients helps boost your immune system. I recommend eating micronutrients in whole food form, meaning a lot of vegetables and fruits, or a vegetable juice.

5. Nurture your microbiome.

Good bacteria can be the immune systems best friends and allies in helping protect you from invaders. They work symbiotically with your own immune system. So please refrain from antibiotics (good bacteria killers!) unless it’s absolutely necessary. Eat probiotic foods (but again, supplements have mixed results). Remember, probiotics aren’t only in live culture yogurt; they’re also in kimchee, kombucha tea and natural pickled veggies.

6. Take vitamin D.

This is the one supplement that helps boost immunity. This is helpful in people who are deficient in vitamin D, which is most of us. Vitamin D3 at doses of 1000 IU to 5000 IU is what I take.

7. Consider herbal remedies with evidence supporting their use.

There is ongoing research on vitamin C, aloe vera, astragalus membranes, echinacea, ginseng, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Chinese herbal remedies and many other concoctions that claim to improve immune functioning. however, this shouldn’t be your first line of treatment.

8. Exercise less.

When you exercise too much, especially hard or long cardio-based exercise, you actually weaken your immune system and you’re more susceptible to infections. Combine that with sleep loss and poor diet, and your immune system becomes impaired. The idea is that your body is repairing the inflammation in your muscles, joints, elsewhere instead of doing what it’s supposed to. That’s why taking a rest after intense exercise is necessary.

9. Know when to go to the doctor, and when to stay home.

Online Blog Article:                                                                                                                                                                                                       Shah, Amy, MD.  “9 Steps To An All-Natural Immune System Makeover”. mbg health.  December 2014

 
It’s up to me now.  I may not use all 9 of these tips the first day but I need to handle this now.  I’m too smart to be this SonsaTontaPendeja.  As I sit looking at Mama’s pictures all over the place, I can almost hear her telling me (maybe yelling at me)  that I need to take care of myself.  

The Power of Mariachi Music

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The Torres household was not unlike other Latino households in that, we too, had to endure early Saturday mornings with the mariachi music going full blast.  But the difference in our house was that we might be hearing those rancheras on record, on the radio, in a JUKEBOX that was in our house for years, or with Mike Torres playing and singing live!  Our father is a lifetime mariachi and regularly rocks his charro suits.  This is my very favorite picture of his, happiest when singing with the mariachi.

So I’d be in that bed trying to will myself back to sleep, trying to close my eyes, trying not to think that, along with the music, that house cleaning wasn’t far behind.   Finally, I’d give in and wake up, laying there hearing the sounds of the house, the smell of breakfast cooking, knowing that in a few minutes, we’d get Mama’s call to get up and help do this or that and, through all of this, la musica ranchera a todo volumen en friega …music at full blast.

Back then, it was like “rolling the eyes” irritating on some days, at least those first few minutes of being up and about.   Maybe if it were another kind of music that I liked at the time, I might have had a better attitude.  Maybe not, I was and still am, to this day, a night person.   This familia of musicos are also night people so we all have to tread lightly every morning so that we don’t offend each other as we try to wake up.  And when we are all still living at home, we Torres5 used to regularly try to compete with Dad by turning the TV up, Dad singing/playing louder, TV up, music louder and on and on.  LOL

A little while ago, I was sitting here, all desvelada complete with that headache that you get from little or no sleep, and, just as I was thinking, “I’m gonna go home and take a nap“,  the music in my shuffle changes and I actually jumped as “El Son de La Negra” comes on trumpets blasting, all loud and proud.  I actually smiled as I felt this music wake up my soul with its invigorating and empowering energy, I was this close to saying ‘VivaMexico!’ but don’t know how my Starbucks table neighbors would deal with it LOL.

Gone are the days of “rolling of the eyes” when I hear musica de mariachi.  I have the gift of my father who, at 82 years old,  STILL plays the guitar DAILY, who still blasts his musica, who is a walking encyclopedia of Mexican music and who knows all of the fun chisme folkloric back stories of songs, musicians, mariachis.  You better know that we Torres5 know so many of these songs word for word.  And, every time I hear “El Son de La Negra“, I am ready to get my grito on and sing all of the words to these great great great songs, songs that I have heard forever in my house, songs of the motherland, songs that make me proud to be part of such a colorful, vibrant, always-at-full-blast culture.  These songs or powerful “sones” are guaranteed to give you the chills when you hear them, go anywhere in the world, watch (and hear) the reaction when this song comes on.  Gritos can be heard from every inch of the place almost as loud as the mariachi itself.  The pride and joy are in full effect — from the mariachis to the audience, these songs regularly bring any house down, anywhere, anytime.

And, songs like these probably still drive people crazy on Saturday mornings because, yes, they are some of the best songs to clean house to.  Enjoy “El Son de La Negra”… listen, watch and tell me you don’t feel it!

 

 

 

Embracing Death with Love FELIZ DIA DE LOS MUERTOS 2017

 

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Dia de Los Muertos is such a beautiful Mexican tradition that has done the one thing that no one had been able to do: take away my fear of death. My fears surrounding death were related to things that I could only imagine: suffering, pain, leaving suddenly, violence. My imagination ran wild, I would imagine zombies walking about, people moaning in pain, screams of fear. Maybe it was all of the Halloween monster-type stuff in the movies and TV. Lots of the Halloween stuff is based on that, el Dia de Los Muertos is not…el Dia de Los Muertos is a great time to remember those you love who are no longer with you and shows you how to honor your loved one by getting their favorite things together and making them an altar.

Mama’s altar is on display 24/7.  We change it up for the holidays and the sentiment is the same:  we honor Mama and our good memories of her.  It’s so comforting to see her near her favorite window in her house.   I soooo love this tradition and love to see how my friends celebrate this special time of the year.   The holiday offers the hope that our loved ones will come to be with us one more time, the altars, the candles, the flowers, their things, their favorite foods are meant to guide them back to us.  Folks decorate altars in their homes, in the cemetery, at festivals, at celebrations.

I thought you would like to see altars created by my friends…so unique, so cool, awesome:

Ninel & Karla & The Cortez Fam honor their Mama and their loved ones…

Gracie and the Solorio Family honor their recently departed mother…

BFF Trini and Daddy’s Girl Trini honors her father along with familia…

Part of the Mejia Family’s awesome setup – this altar is dedicated to mariachis


Anna’s tribute to her father and departed familia…

My lil cousin Jami and Michael’s very first altar honoring their grandparents and Mama and their familia… loooove it!

And, here are a few pictures from the Ranch Dia de Los Muertos celebration honoring Mama and all of our fam who has departed…

 

Rest In Peace:  Margaret Torres, Edmundo Torres, Adela Melena, Prudencio Melena, Baltazar Perez, Neftali Orozco, Willie Herrera I, Juan Lucio, Mama Lupita Lucio, Joe Hernandez, Freddy Hernandez, Alfonso Grijalva, Albina Grijalva, Louie Rodriguez, Eddie Rafanan, Jenny Rodriguez, Jennifer Rafanan, Elio Rafanan, Robert Grijalva, Vera Espinoza, Ralph Espinoza, Joey Espinoza, Jess Grijalva, Rosa Sylvia Grijalva, Martin Prieto, Mark Prieto, Connie Cruz, Beatrice Hernandez

RIP Friends:  David Navarro, Joe Nieves, Maria Antonieta Garcia, Rosa Salinas, Rene Garcia, Roberto Vallejo Pantoja, Gabriel Rangel, Jr. Rangel, Cora Rangel, Marina Beltran, John Beltran, Susan Casillas, George Casillas, Ernie Gonzalez, Rosie Gonzalez, Rosita Aragon, Guillermo Prince, Salvador Sierra, Bernardo Santillan, Jose Gutierrez, Neal Sanchez, Ms. Gwen … I know that I will need to edit this as I’ve likely forgotten to list someone.

 

Gone. But never forgotten.  Feliz Dia de Los Muertos.

The Breeze Through Mama’s Window

 

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It’s Sunday afternoon, between one and two in the afternoon, and, as I sat down to eat my lunch, I looked down at my plate, glanced at the TV, and looked out of the window, I had to smile, then I had to laugh.

I am eating mac and cheese, watching some movie on Turner Classic Movies, and enjoying the breeze from the window on this hot day. Why is this funny, you ask?

This is so something Mama would do.

This is Mama’s time of day.

This could almost be her sitting here eating her favorite macaroni and cheese, watching one of her classic movies and looking out of her window. As I sit here, I can hear myself asking her, “Mama, what do you feel like eating?” if she didn’t know, I would read off a list of her favorites…fruit and cottage cheese, tostadas, mac and cheese, salad…and 9 times out of 10, it was mac and cheese.

The breeze from Mama’s window is the BEST in all of the house. I remember, many times, how Mama would give a little sigh when we would open her window as she sat in her chair or was in her bed. At first, I was completely mortified that a hospital bed would take residence in the living room – especially when Mama had a perfectly good bedroom. Now I get it, the great breeze and being in the living room allowed Mama to keep calm and cool, to stay connected in her part of the world, and to live life with all of us instead of being holed up in a room in the back, in the back where the window was higher up and with no breeze.

This was the time of day when Mama would really rest.  It was usually quieter, and once I opened all of the windows in the house, the breeze would kick in, and she could relax and sleep knowing that one of us was in the house.  Even now, when I notice Mama’s time of day, I try to keep things quiet JUST in case she wants to stop by and visit us.

The day the folks came to take her bed away, the big sister in me kicked in when I saw my siblings faces filled with sadness. I made them bring in a table that minute so that I could set up a table with Mama’s pictures and things. We still have that table all of these months later, the table is right against Mama’s window and my sister changes it and blings it up throughout the year. Mama’s chair is in the exact spot where her bed was right next to her nightstand. If you sit in this chair facing the window, it’s all about “aaaaah” the minute that breeze hits your face.

As a family, we did everything for our mother and, for the most part, this family has decided to mourn “happy” – we miss our mother so much and we like her right there in the mix with us as we go about our lives.   It is very comforting knowing that, in some way, she is still in her favorite spot of her house.   Maybe the breeze is her way of stopping in to say hi to us.

At least I like to think so.

Chasing the Blue Amongst The Clouds

 

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What a great feeling.  It’s like all of the stars line up, all of your ducks are in a row, all is as it should be. all is perfect, everything is crystal clear, there is a reason for this madness, you understand everything.  For a split-second.  And then it all comes crashing back to you, all of your fears, all of your mistakes, all of your regadas, all of your pendejadas, all up in your face.  You feel defeated, like you’ve taken 10 steps back, you’re angry, sad and mad all at once.

As I was driving home a couple of weeks ago, I experienced this exact same sensation.  I remember that it was a cloudy afternoon and my eye focused on the part of the sky that had broken free from the clouds, where you could see the blue of the sky piercing through the gray clouds.   When I looked into that blue spot, it was as if a part of my heart opened up, the purest part,  the part that was open to new experiences and the part that did not allow me to hold myself back, the part where I was unafraid.  It was as if I was thinking in overdrive:  I started thinking of and seeing Mama, happy and alive, seeing my family members and friends happy and productive, myself fearless and working toward my goals, I could even hear music in that blue sky, and it was like all of these happy feelings were swirling around in the sky, happily blending together.  I was even crying tears of happiness and all felt right in my world.

And then I stopped looking at the blue sky and it all faded away.  Try as I could, I was unable to get that feeling back again.  It was like I got afraid, afraid to see what life would be like in that swirl of happiness.  I totally got into my own way and messed things up big time.   Now I’m trying to figure out how to get back to that place.

As I don’t feel like super-analyzing this experience today…I’ll just let my InnerChingona give her two cents on this moment:   While I’m getting better, I’m not there yet, it’s very hard for me to trust anything new, no matter how positive it is and no matter how much good it will do for me.   I’ve got to keep working on staying the hell out of my own way and just let things be!  I need to handle this mess before moving on the next phase in my life.

That I was able to have a glimpse, albeit a small glimpse, into what my life can be motivates me to keep working at getting this heavy desmadre of baggage out of my way so that the blue sky does not fade away when the clouds of life appear, and you know that clouds will always come back.  I also like that I have finally been able to see the blue through the clouds, even for a few seconds.

It has been a long time.

Open Letter to A Friend: It Doesn’t Have To Be A Death Sentence #52essays2017

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Today I received news that a family friend would soon be living with dialysis.  I was compelled to write a letter as it is a road that Mama and we, her family, know all too well.

When I got the news today about your diagnosis, I looked out of my window and the light of the sky looked exactly the same as when we got the news that Mama would need to go on dialysis.   I said a prayer for you that minute and my heart felt sad, just as it did a few years ago.  While we were all very concerned and sad to hear this news about our mother, we were uninformed and overwhelmed as we did not really know anything about dialysis:  would it be painful? how would this affect Mama? how did this happen?   All we knew is that it was major.  Add to this, Mama was adamant.  She would not go on dialysis and called us all together to tell us so.  We were almost desperate.  While we did not know much about dialysis, one thing was clear:  Margaret would die without this treatment as her kidneys were no longer functioning.

Eventually, thank God, Mama decided to undergo dialysis treatments under one condition.  That we know that she was doing this for US, and that we had to be with her, if she was going to dialysis, so were we.   Very shortly, our lives were completely changed.

Mama had to be at dialysis three days a week and we had to organize ourselves quick!  It took us a few weeks to adjust and eventually we had it down to someone getting Mama ready to go to dialysis in the mornings, someone to go with her, someone to pick her up if need be, someone to be home to be with her.  Was it easy?  No.  This entire family had to work together on our goal of keeping our mother alive and well.

The dialysis center will give you a bag and lots of information about what you will need to take with you on your treatments. We had to learn how to be organized and to have everything that Mama might need when she went to dialysis:  a bag with extra clothes, aspirin, medicine, snacks, gum, water, blankets, small pillows, headphones to watch the small TV in the chair.   My advice to you is to be like Margaret, take whatever you need to feel comfortable and secure NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS.  If you need four blankets, one rolled a certain way, another to cover you, and a couple for backup, than you do it and do not give in to anyone.  You are the one who will be undergoing the treatment for 3 hours or more, and you will get cold, anything that will make your time go by as peacefully as possible, do it.  God love us, we tried to tell Mama “why do you need that? are all of these blankets and pillows necessary? etc.   Your children will learn, as we had to, that, as long as you are able to make decisions about your care, then it is up to them to respect your decisions.

Please  pay attention to how you feel and what works for you, or not.  Some days Mama would come out of dialysis completely exhausted.  However, she did need to take her medicine and eat something.  Either we would have something hot and cooked ready or she would want to pick something up.   Once we would help Mama into her bed, the BEST sound ever was the sigh she would let out when her head hit the pillow.  I grew to love “Mama’s Time Of Day” — somewhere between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, where the house was quiet, she would either watch TV or look out of her window before drifting off to sleep.   Please do not be afraid to rest, please do not try to stay up or awake for anyone if you don’t feel like it, naps will save everyone’s sanity and give you the rest that your body needs.

Sometimes the treatments will make your body cramp up or your blood pressure will get low.   You’re lucky, you are able to walk and get up to walk off a cramp.  Our mother was partially paralyzed and cramps were sheer torture for her.  One thing that always helped Mama when her body would cramp was to eat something salty:  lemons with salt, pickles, olives, chips.  Sodium levels are low and it’s important that you tell the dialysis crew that you are cramping up so that they can help you out.  Also let them know if you are dizzy ASAP so that they can make adjustments to bring your blood pressure up.

I don’t tell this to you to scare you any more than you might be.  It will take time for you and the familia to figure out how things will go for you.  I can also say that I have friends who are on dialysis, who drive themselves to and from their treatments, who handle the treatments well, who LIVE for years and years.  I have one friend who has been on dialysis for over 10 years and is going strong.   There may also be the possibility of a kidney transplant as another family friend was able to do.  If you feel afraid, someone can always go with you to your treatments.  One of us was usually with Mama thru her entire treatment.

Dialysis is not a death sentence.   Right now, it is what will keep you alive and although I personally have not gone thru the treatments, I did learn how to make Mama more comfortable and, for a long time, Mama felt better (once she got used to the treatments) Although things were not easy, I would do it again in an instant if she could be here with us.  You knew Margaret, quiet but she spoke up when she had to do so and speak up she did when it came to her care and what worked for her — I know that you will do the same and pray for you and the family to muster the strength and committment to make dialysis work for you the best way possible.

Let your family and friends be there for you.  You are so blessed to have the prayers of an entire community, they would help you I know.  Our family has already walked the road that you are just starting on.  Any questions you have, any information you need, any fears you would like soothed, please call us.  We love you and are here for you.

Fighting Words #52essays2017

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A few years back, when I went to court to confront him for harassment/stalking, the DA had asked me to get statements from anyone who had been directly affected by his actions.  These statements would be presented to the judge to show the level this individual had gone to in order to get to me, get my attention, destroy me, destroy my reputation, to break me.

I had completely forgotten about all of this until I found a SIX page letter written by Mama.  To see her compelling words took me completely back to that time in my life, Mama was partially paralyzed and had to learn how to write all over again with her left hand.   She had always had beautiful handwriting and it was difficult for her to look at her handwriting ever again.  I, on the other hand, had so much admiration for Mama and the strength and committment it took for her to start over from zero.   Aside from learning to write again with her other hand, Mama also had to write much slower and would have to position the pages just so in order to be able to put the words onto the page — for her to be able to write one page could take hours.

Having a stroke might have slowed down Mama physically but not mentally, thank God.  Where Margaret may have been quiet, even shy, when in front of people, she was so eloquent and could WORK IT in writing.   I remember that, sometimes, we Torres5 would be hesitant, almost nervous, to tell Mama about anything we were going thru, at first, because we knew that it would be ON.   But then, we would watch in wonder after turning in one of Mama’s notes to a teacher or to an office.  In spectacular fashion, Margaret handled it for her Torres5 and it was thrilling to watch her, unafraid, fight racism and discrimination, apathy, and more in attempts to get justice for us.   It was very apparent to all of our teachers that NO one messed with Margaret’s children.

So once I saw this six-page letter, I was amazed because I know that this had to have taken her days to write it.  Then the tears came, tears of anger that my mother had to go thru this stress in her own home because of one stupidasspendejo.  Mama always respected my privacy, never got into my business, and deserved to live her life in privacy and peace.  That this tranquility was taken from her, albeit for a short time, saddens me to this day, she never asked to have her life disrupted, never asked to be involved in this mess.

Through my tears, I started smiling.  Because, in writing this letter to the judge, my mother was doing what she had always done for me, took care of me, stood up for me when I could barely lift my head, had my back, made me stronger, got me through many a day, and made sure that she would contribute to my receiving justice.  More important, seeing this letter made me happy:  it was like Mama was reminding me to get a hold of myself and know my worth.  It was also a confirmation that Mama a l w a y s  had my back and HOW blessed am I to have this in writing?

I’m always grateful for signs:  I needed to see/feel my mother today.   Mama’s words were always powerful and today she reminded me of how far that I have come…and so thankful that I do not live this drama 24/7 anymore.  Because on one fateful day in 2013, one Margaret Mary Torres decided to pick up a pen and put it to paper, to use her words instead of her fists to fight, once again, for justice for her child.

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Going Home. Ni Modo. Sometimes You “Have” To.

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I was struck by a television show I was watching earlier tonight: the character was Latino, and he had come home to find his mother lying on the floor, she had fallen. The caregiver had been gone for a couple of hours and the character was furious and went after the caregiver with the can of whoopass. At the end of the show, this character was going into his mother’s home, where he tells her how beautiful she looks, to which she responds that she had to look her best because she was so happy that her son was moving back home. And then the mom starts being a mom – “come sit down with me, watch my show, can you make me a sandwich?”  I had to laugh because I sooo related to this and this proves to me that I am not the only one who has “had” come back home.

As I write, I’m now in my “apartment” AKA the “girls room” – the place where I grew up. It is sooo deja vu right now, the way the light looks, the way the house sounds kind of quiet, the way I’m playing the radio low, and, as it is tuned into a classic oldies station, it feels as if I am back in time to when I used to be in the room doing my homework! LOL


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My view in the “girls room”

Regular readers of my blog know my story of moving back home to be with my folks. Mama has since passed and it’s me and my father. While I admit that I  miss my former life profoundly which consisted of spending time with my now FamFriends, going out a lot, working a lot, trying to work on having a meaningful relationship in my life, and finding my place in the world.  However, I now realize that I was always looking for a sense of family and togetherness in every city I have lived/worked.  As I was alone with family far away, I didn’t really have to deal with work getting in the way of family things plus I was usually far enough so I wasn’t mired in the day-to-day routine.   To my amazement, I now realize that one of the things that I missed was the sense of ‘home’ – that peaceful feeling of being able to relax completely, to be yourself, to know that you are totally safe and loved.

I’m now all up in the day-to-day trying to keep this house in order, always watchful of my father.  Tonight, he seems down and, while I try not to get all up in his business, I feel better knowing that he’s not by himself.  My fear is coming home to find him fallen down or hurt or worse.   I just want him to be safe and happy.   I know now that familia has to work together to contribute to the peace, safety, and love that makes our house feel like a home.

This peace and joy did not come easy.  Caregiving is not an easy gig and the struggle is real because, at the end of the day, you are NOT their parent, even though it feels like it a lot of the time.  You are all up in their things and, in this house at least, no one likes it when you move their stuff around.   Also, in this house, Mama used to say that her kids were all chiefs as we all have our opinion on everything LOL.    She was right.  I especially would go crazy when things did not go my way and when this family would not follow the schedule that I made for us.  I had to learn to bite my tongue and to pick my battles.  I had to stop judging them for a million things, and just love them.

stop-judging

For any of you who have “had” to move back home, these tips really helped me to make it a little easier.

  1.  Respect that it is not easy for your parents either:  someone, even their daughter, coming into their space can feel disruptive and they may be embarrassed that the house isn’t as neat as it used to be, or that they can’t do the things they used to.
  2. Dignity goes a long way.  I learned this first-hand when I was the one “assigned” to clean and change Mama’s clothes.  I was so concerned that she was comfortable as fast as possible that I didn’t cover the exposed parts of her body like I should have  One day, I just watched Toni, one of the hospice nurses, as she moved and bathed Mama with such care and dignity so that I could try to make her comfortable.
  3. Live like roommates and have the roommate talk:  This sets simple ground rules and has worked wonders for family unity and understanding.  It allows everyone in the house to live their lives, work, spend time with friends and work out issues.
  4. Respect each other’s space, get out of each other’s way when need be.  I have, on occasion, dropped Dad off to have a few drinks and sing with the mariachi and then pick him up … talk about Turning the Tables! He, on the other hand, is always telling me to get out of the house and go out, that he’ll be alright.
  5. Create Your Support Crew:  You may need help getting folks to appointments, getting meals handled, picking up meds, cleaning the house or to listen to you vent.  People do want to help how they can and, even if it’s just for a couple of hours, let someone be there for you as you care for your parents.

Change doesn’t have to be disruptive forever.  The way I see it, my parents gave us everything we needed to get out there in the world and as, nothing is free, it is important for me to be here now for my father.  Respect, dignity, open communication, support system, and stepping back when need be can make any situation bearable, even fun.  My Dad and I, thank God, are able to talk to each other.

Hablando se entiende la gente.  I’m smiling right now because we just had what is a typical nighttime conversation between Dad and I:  “Mija, quiero un taquito para tomarme la medicina”  he usually likes a snack when he takes his meds.  This Daddy’s girl says, “ok but ‘con tortillas de maiz‘ because it’s late.”   My father is Team Flour Tortillas all the way and I’m Corn Tortilla girl — and this is how we compromise LOL .  There you have it:  Another peaceful night at home on the Ranch.

#52essays2017

 

What? QueQUE? My story of Awe #52essays2017

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#52essays2017

AWE:  a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.  Synonyms of AWE:  filled with wonder, wonderstruck, awestruck, amazed, astonished, lost for words, reverential

Another Friday Night.  I’m sitting in major traffic trying to get home.  I’m listening to the radio and the host is talking about “Awe” and the listeners are calling in with their stories.  As I sat in my Jeep surrounded by cars on every side on the roadway, I started thinking about times when I was awestruck, when something completely stopped me in my tracks, when I was stunned into silence, when I was certain that it could only have been God behind it.

Back in the day, I was going out with someone whom I was totally crazy about, I hadn’t been this happy in a long time.  I just couldn’t believe that my parents did not like this person.  Oh, they had reason to feel the way they did, I accept that.  I was the one who was blind in love, I was the one who was going to change their mind, I was the one to change a negative into a positive, things would work out in my favor.

Well, things did not work out in my favor.  After too many nights of having to deal his drama with alcohol and viejas, I decided that I needed to get out of this mess and I left him.   I had estranged myself from my family where he was concerned, and so I really didn’t know who I could talk to about how sad and devastated I was.  I thought that no one would understand me and that they would just be glad that I had come to my senses.  I was not in any mood to be judged, I just wanted understanding.  I kicked myself for living a double life and for keeping things from my family and friends.  So now I had this intense drama going on in my head and I started beating myself up MORE for being with this person than GIVING MYSELF PROPS for being smart enough to walk away from a bad situation.  So, as often happens when one is overwhelmed and battling every kind of emotion, I became very depressed.  I also thought that, “there’s no way that anyone knows how I’m feeling because I haven’t told anyone anything.”  Yeah, right.

Mama knew.

My mother had always been pretty religious, very Catholic.  She would always say things like ‘Let Go And Let God‘ and told us to “pray about it” and “believe” and things like that.  I’d sit there rolling my eyes saying, “ay Mom” and things like that.  But Margaret, always persistent, never gave up and, one day, she tells me that there was a Healing Mass coming up and that we should go,  Healing Masses are done all of the time in Catholic churches, it’s a time where you can receive a great amount of prayer for whatever illness or sadness you are going through.  I’m like “yeah, yeah” rolling my eyes and thinking, “she’ll forget about this”.  Well, forget she did not, and the day came for the Healing Mass.

I remember going into the Mass, still with some of my attitude on, thinking about “what will this do for me?“.  At one point during the Mass, there came a point where I had to go up to the altar where there were people standing in a circle who would pray for whatever I asked them to pray for.  I went up to the circle and told them how sad I was because of a breakup and they all started to pray over me.   I went back to my seat, a little confused and thinking about how this was going to help me because I felt the same as I did before.

After everyone else had gone up to be prayed over, we had to stand up for some reason.  As the priest was speaking, don’t ask me what he was saying, I put my hands on the pew in front of me.  As I stood there, I started to feel my body moving, like something was trying to get out.  I closed my eyes and, to my astonishment, I started to feel like my body was actually rising up, that I was starting to levitate, and I remember holding on to that pew for dear life, because I was sure that I was going to start flying.  I started crying because I didn’t really understand what was happening and because I didn’t know how to fly.

Once I realized that I was fighting this too much, I figured I would relax and let go – after all, I was in a church, what harm could come to me there?   As I relaxed my hold on the pew and just surrendered to the feeling of levitation, I started to feel something making its way out of my body, and making its way in color, I saw a dark gray film rising before my eyes and, as I looked up, it was moving up as well!  After seeing this, I sat down and tried to get myself together.  I was completely floored, exhausted, and at peace.  I remember looking over at Mama and, as we locked eyes, and we both knew that I had come through the other end.  I never knew if she ever saw what I had felt and seen just a few minutes earlier but I know that she understood that something profound had happened.  Now that I look back, how cool is it that I was able to share this with my mother?  Just like God, she never left me ever, I was not all alone.

I hadn’t really thought too much about that experience in many years.   In fact, as I listened to the radio on that Friday night, as others spoke about AWE, I almost hesitated as I dialed the phone number to tell MY story of Awe.  I was shocked that the phone actually rang and was answered by a call screener.  I would be telling my story to the world in a few minutes!   As I told my story of Awe on-air, I realized that AWE moments should not be forgotten, that reaching back to this moment in my life might have helped me to see the roadblocks, stop signs, signals that would cross my path in the future.  I cannot explain, to this day, why God chose that precise moment to personally bless me with peace and love.  I have learned that it’s important to talk (or write about)  about these wonder-filled moments to help me/us reflect on as heal and move forward from life’s disappointments, sad or bad times.

What is your moment of AWE?  Embrace, heal, and learn from this moment.

#52essays2017

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