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.

Turning The Tables: The Waiting Game

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Waiting.  I am not a fan of waiting.  Especially when this person doesn’t respond to my many calls to see if all is ok.  Waiting and worrying, a sure-fire way to make myself go crazy, so I’ve decided that, today, I will not worry if this person is dead on the side of the road, worry that this person has indeed been picked up and is in jail, or in a hospital, or worse.

This person does not owe me any type of explanation whatsoever and is waaay over 21 to be asking permission to go anywhere.  And it does not matter how many times I sit here and wait for this person, it is still the same:  is this person dead?  alive?  sick?  well?  in jail?  hurt?  and is anything wrong with this person’s fingers that I get no phone call?  I have been known to make myself crazy with worry, calling and calling and calling.  Getting furious with this person and with myself for getting so alocada.

I guess that, no matter how old you get, that you will always find it difficult to discover that, yes, your father has a life out of this house.  It could be for a minute, or for hours, that he is late getting home, and the tables turn q u i c k. On the one hand, my father is not chained to the Ranch, he regularly is out and about.  I tend to forget that the man is 81 years old.  But like anything else, you know the signs, or should I say smell the signs:   The smells of soap and cologne envelop this house, his good hat is gone, and, while he usually lets me know when he’s leaving to go anywhere; when he’s in “going out” mode, I get no notice LOL.   I immediately revert back to when I was younger, when the house never felt right when the “adults” were away, when I’d watch out of the windows looking for the white light of their car headlights driving into the Ranch.

Thankfully, I did get a call letting me know where Dad was/is and that he is ok.  While we may have to go and pick him up later, that is better than not knowing where he is.   I now get it when my parents worried about me not calling, not picking up the phone, not answering.  Karma, que no?  I also get it that I gain nothing by worrying myself to crazy and getting all mad at my father for wanting a night out.   I suppose that I should learn to relax and be blessed that I have an 81-years-young father who is still in good health, strong and sharp as ever.

This healthy, strong, sharp man still needs to let a daughter know whassup though…that’s another battle for another day I guess!

 

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.

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.

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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.

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Your Mama Says “Hi” #52essays2017


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As I got home tonight from work, Dad told me that he went to see Mama at the cemetery. He always says “Your Mama Says Hi”. I have been missing “Señora” big time today.  It’s cold, it’s dark, and I’m just getting over flu/bronchitis and sometimes all you want is your mama to make it all better. That’s it, that’s all I wanted today.  I love it when he tells us that ‘your Mama says hi’ like as if she’s going to be home in a little while or something.

I don’t know what it was about being near Mama, I felt safe, she wasn’t the ‘huggy huggy’ type and I didn’t feel offended because I think that she may have wanted to be more cariñosa with us but she was embarrassed, and maybe she thought that she didn’t know how to be more physically affectionate, who knows.  A lot of ladies from her generation were the same way.   I learned how to live with this but I just always k n e w that my mother loved me because she felt things so deeply. I could always sense when Mama was sad or hurt; maybe because I am the same way, my feelings run veeeery deep.  However, Mama always connected really well through writing, thank God. I have so many loving notes and letters from her. I treasure them all but I really love the stuff she’d write after she had her stroke, when she had to start from zero and learn to write with her left hand (as the right one was paralyzed), where a small note would take her hours to write, when she was as close to her inner chingona as possible, when she had decided that, by holding things in, she had a hand in her stroke changing her life forever. From that moment on, she always always always told us to never keep things in, so that we wouldn’t end up like her – in a wheelchair, walking with a cane, no longer able to drive or move about carefree.

Many many times she’d tell me to “calm down, don’t be so emotional, stop crying‘, and in the next breath, tell me that she was exactly the same way at my age.   Someone, somewhere along Mama’s life, must have told her to keep things inside, that it wasn’t cool to cry and carry on.  Maybe Mama’s generation were afraid of emotion, afraid of losing control, afraid of not being able to come back from an emotional outburst.  I didn’t, and still don’t, understand how one can hold in every single feeling, it would make me physically sick to hold so much in. I’ve learned thru life (and shots of therapy) that letting go and losing it all is a great way to get yourself back on track.  I would give anything for Mama and those of her generation to have believed this, they would have been happier and more fulfilled I think.   I always try to be affectionate with our #TorresBabies, no matter the age, breaking that cycle I guess.

Mama’s presence was always enough to calm me.  If she looked calm, I would stop freaking out about this or that.  If I called her and her voice sounded strong and happy, I knew that it was a good day.  Wheelchair or not, paralyzed or not, if I needed an attitude adjustment, advice, or someone to listen to me go on and on and on, Mama was down for it.  Today I so needed to get her take on things, to help get me on track, to have her tell me things like “LetGoAndLetGod” and then telling me to stop rolling my eyes and believe LOL.

She’s been gone 26 months now, and sitting here in her house, near one of her pictures (which, note to self,  needs to be surrounded by lights so that I can see her face at this time of night), I feel her presence and the one thing, the one thing, I want right now is to feel her warmth, to see her face as she helps me figure things out, and to hug and kiss her goodnight.  Maybe her message to me from Dad was her way of letting me know she’s here.   “Hi Mama! Dad gave me your message!”

 

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Mama & Me   #52essays2017

The Power Of Writing: OMG Dad is finding his Inner Chingona

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Dad and I have spent all week thrown down sick at this house. All it has been is puro coughing and misery. For the past few days, neither of us had the energy or desire to do anything.   One of things I’ve started to notice is, that lately, Dad and I have the same tastes on lots of things, including writing.  I took these pics of us a couple of weeks ago, he was writing in one room, and I was writing in another. OMG Dad is finding his Inner Chingona!

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Dad’s been wanting to write his life story and for YEARS, he had been using his typewriter, yes, a typewriter. Well, yesterday, he decides that he’s going to use his laptop to put his story down so that I could review and edit it later. It was transforming. Dad was INTO it, into using the mouse, into learning the keyboard, into putting his thoughts down, sitting down at the table, happy, into it. As it was, after all, the middle of the night, I went in to check on him and almost told him to go to bed and then I stopped myself. I stopped myself when I saw his face deep in thought, eyes glued to the keyboard, I saw “it”. When one is in the I “have” to write mode. Where one is in that zone of pure creativity, on it, focused, working it. Where your fingers are working completely in synch with your mind and where your work is at its most authentic. Maybe when this creative surge is over and we review his work later, we will find that some things may need to be revised or removed, but there is usually always SOMETHING salvageable from creative surges of writing. Therefore, it was very important for me to let him be, to let him finish his train of thought.

I know this feeling well and, for many years, I would suppress my love of writing as something boring or something that people with no lives do. Once I got to that space where I decided it was time to embrace writing, I started making more and more time for it. Now writing is a permanent part of me, an expansion of my voice, much more than a hobby. I think to myself with a lil bit of sadness, “how long did Dad want to write and dismissed it? I also think about Mama and about people no longer with us who left without doing the things that they wanted to do, things that would have made them feel more whole, things that would make them happier.

So now it’s all about me embracing the fact that Dad “needs” his writing as much as I do, maybe more than I do, he’s 81 years young, and he wants to get so much out on paper.   Making things easier for him will be what I am supposed to do, help him work the laptop, teach him Word so that he can save things easier, showing him that the computer is nothing to be afraid of.  I think that it’s fun to be able to share something with my father.

#52essays2017

Mama’s 1st Anniversary In Heaven 11-11-2015

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It’s hard to believe that Mama has been gone from us for a year.  This was the most difficult year ever for the Torres Familia.  As I look at these pictures, I sense the strength, unity and love that we have for each other…THIS is what my mother wanted most for us, she always said that we should clear up any issues or problems with loved ones, that life is too short, that we always needed to be together.   The support we give each other makes the pain much more bearable.

In no particular order, here are some of the things I think about as we celebrate Mama’s First anniversary in Heaven:

Tuesday Nights:  By far, the most difficult night for me during this past year.  Mama left us on a Tuesday night and it was the hardest thing to see her taken from our house and watching the car drive to the back of the Ranch and on the way out forever.   Her Rosary Mass was on a Tuesday night as well…soooo many people showed up thank God or I might have had a really difficult time.  I’ve always had a very hard time attending Rosary and Funeral Masses.  I know that it is necessary to pay one’s respects as well as getting a chance to say goodbye and have closure, that doesn’t make it easier for me though.  All of the those emotions seem to find their way to me on Tuesday nights.

Driven No More:  I have lived my life completely driven and moved very fast and worked hard all of the time, 24/7.  I also spent time very afraid and didn’t want to imagine my life without my parents.  Once I lost Mama and once I saw that I survived, very sad, but survived, everything that I was about before changed.   Gone was the need to be so driven, gone was the need to move at breakneck speed, gone was the need to run, always run.  I finally lost the fear and the need to please everyone all of the time.   In my business, that instinct is very important to success so I know that I’ve lost out on some opportunities because I was no longer willing to play the game.  It is no longer the end of the world for me.

Lost In a Good Way:  I’ve been very distracted, disconnected, lost .  I’m not really worried about it though.  It’s time to do things another way, to live in peace, to change-up my priorities.   Family and Peace are the two things that I think about the most now.  I want to keep up my mother’s traditions, make good on my promise to keep the family together, and I love it that peace is coming back into my life more and more – I’m done with putting drama front and center, I am over that.  Being at peace is helping this girl finally find her way and reason for being.

As long as Mama is happy, I’m happy:  I was the one who had the hardest time accepting that Mama no longer wanted to do her dialysis treatments, she was tired of all of the needles, the lack of energy, the pain, all of it.  I thought that, as the days went on, that she would change her mind once things got difficult for her without dialysis.  The thing is, things didn’t get more difficult for her, they got more peaceful, she didn’t seem to be in physical pain – in some ways, she was stronger physically WITHOUT food or water.   Mama wasn’t emaciated or anything so I knew that God was taking care of her and eventually, I accepted everything.  When I get sad, I think of how ready she was to get to her eternal home and this comforts me.

Embrace the Signs:  Instead of being afraid of the signs:  lights randomly turning on, Mama’s birds singing so loud, seeing Mama in dreams, or random “Margaret” songs that come on the radio; I am grateful to maintain the connection to my mother and welcome any message or sign from her.   She’s very much alive in my heart and soul, I love being around her house and things.  I feel her energy helping to move me forward.

My life changed forever on November 11, 2014 when Mama left this earth.  Slowly but surely, things are starting to feel right again.  We Torres’ are still strong and we are still together … everything else will, eventually,  fall into place.

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Timing: Inner Chingona Sez ‘Todo A Su Tiempo’

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For the past few months, everything has felt like such a mess, like as if my life and my goals were flying about in the wind as if they were pieces of paper, and there I was trying to catch these pieces of paper as if my life depended on it.  After what has seemed like loss, loss, and more loss, I feel like I’m being led to a calmer way of life, to really start thinking about what my next moves in life will be, to lose the drama, to,  as a good friend says, “divorce myself from engaging” from people and situations that no longer serve me.

It’s about time!  As I sit here and think about how I’ve lived and loved the past few years — unbalanced, yes.  unhealthy, yes.  fun, yes.  stressful and driven, always.    Some of the decisions that I have made overwhelm me with guilt, remorse, regret.   It’s like I went from living just for me 100% which ended up being straight-up empty to living to do everything right for others — at some expense to myself and my goals.  I wish that I had learned how to honor and listen to my Inner Chingona much sooner so that I would have had a more positive and healthy approach to everything in my life.  Lo hecho hecho esta and I now fully intend to balance what I have to do and still do those things that I love, hang with people who love and respect me, and realign my priorities and goals so that I can live a more healthy life versus a stressful and driven one.  To live more passionately and goal-oriented, to stand up for myself and to stop letting myself down.   I always try to come up with four things I need to work on to get myself together.  My four short-term goals from October 4th (my other birthday) to the end of 2015 are:

-Being there and spending time with my familia is important.

-Believing and having faith that God will guide me to the right path.

-Lose my fear of working it for myself the way I used to do for others.

-Accept that, while I have done and said some stupid things, that I also have done things that do fill me with pride and that I need to own that!

OMG!  Do you see anything that says I must succeed in my career at the cost of everything else?  Not any more.  I’m ready to work hard for something I love, but what would that be?  Sepa … who knows?    Giving up a little of the control-freakness is actually a relief.  Not knowing what comes next is kind of exciting, especially as I intend to embrace anything positive.  All of this loss happened for a reason.  The main silver lining right now is that I have had to start over from zero in many areas of my life and I have come through it all in one piece.   I have a few more rough days as I let go and let God pull me out of negativity and back on the path to living with passion, purpose, and a positive outlook.  Ready, Set, Go!

 

 

Keeping Our Spirits Up “Mike-Torres Style”

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Today was a significant and sad day for us Torres5 and TorresBabies17…one year ago today, Mama had made her decision to stop her dialysis treatments and we then knew that it was a matter of time, we were unsure of how long, that she would no longer be with us.  I have to give it to Dad, he has made it a point to honor Mama in small, yet profound, ways.  He made a beautiful garden in her honor and, what he did during the last couple of days really made us all feel so much better!

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Dad, along with the help of our famfriend Mary Rangel Hernandez and sis Kiki, got the ball rolling to remodel and paint the kitchen.  He chose yellow and asked them to match the yellow of one of Mama’s famous flowered plates.   The minute I walked in and saw this, my thoughts instantly flew to Mama!  The kitchen looks great and I also love how he kept the little shelf above the sink with some of the little things that she always had wherever she was:  her little clock that she always needed to see whenever she would lay down,  there was this silver thing, looked like a bolt of some kind, and Mama used it as a paperweight in her lil table like forever, the sugar bowls that we had since forever, some of the lil shot glasses that we would use to put her medicine in, at least I did, so that she wouldn’t drop the pills since she took so many 😦   Just seeing these things make us feel instantly comforted.  Love the new sink and counters too!

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Like most rooms in the house, one side belongs to Mom and the other side belongs to Daddy.  These bottles are, of course, his and love that they found a way to display them.  Most of these are gifts from his 80th Birthday party.   But we don’t really need these kinds of ‘spirits’ to keep our spirits up LOL,  we do need, love and appreciate, our Dad’s efforts to keep our familia together, happy and smiling.  Sure, we may have sad days but thank God we have Mike Torres to steady us and keep us going when things get tough for us without Mama.  I do not know what we would have done this past year without him.  God Bless him!

 

Celebrating Ranch Mom Week: The Importance of Bonus Mothers

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Today would have been Mama’s 74th birthday.  We were so blessed to have her with us for 73 years and she taught us everything about how to be a family.  We were able to know ALL of our Grijalva cousins and we spent time with ALL of our aunts and uncles on Mama’s side.  The Ranch, ni se diga.  We grew up with a mother in every house at the Ranch.  People always marvel about the family, so huge yet so tight-knit.  The picture above is my favorite of “Las Jefas del Rancho” all of our Ranch Moms in a rare photo.

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Mama and all of our bonus mothers took care of showing us the importance of being there for each other…at the Ranch our Mama Lupita (pictured above)  had names for all of kids, we were named by groups with the nane of the oldest child LOL  My sisters and I were known as ‘Las Carmelillas‘, my brothers “Los Mikitos“, my Herrera cousins, “Los Wilios”, and “Los CoquiViras” were our next-door Torres boys, I’m sure that there were more too that my cousins will remind me of.  We have been blessed to have been raised as this huge bunch of siblings at the Ranch — and, as big as the family is, we always know which cousins are missing at the Ranch parties LOL.

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Especially with Mama’s passing, our bonus mothers have taken on so much more importance for us.  Our Ita (pictured above), our Tia Chayo (pictured below)  and the Ranch Moms have provided us with that sense of security that everything will be alright, that there are still jefas watching out for us, that we are not alone in this world.  I think that we all treasure these ladies so much more!  We celebrate Ita in November, Tia Chayo in December, and Tia Becky in June.  But the first week of July has always been unique as July 7, 8, and 9th belong to Tia Lili, Tia Elvira and Mama respectively.  Back in the day, Tio Mundo used to take them all out for lunch or dinner and we all would attend one bbq or cake cutting for one or the other every year. One year, we did “Las Mananitas” birthday serenades for each one EARLY in the morning, one day after the other.

My favorite days were always when I would see each of my Ranch moms in one day, usually as I was leaving or coming into the Ranch:  Tia Lili either in her yard or at her chair inside – do we always wave or what? LOL, Tia Becky hanging clothes or coming in from one of her social engagements, Tia Elvi watering the plants, Mama at home.   It would be a GREAT day as I would get a ‘God Bless You’ from Mama, ‘Que Dios te Acompane‘ or ‘Te Vas Con Cuidado‘ from my bonus moms.  Even though Mama is no longer with us, I still need that connection and thank God, I still have mothers!

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Take a minute today to treasure and reach out to your mother and also to the bonus mothers in your life:  aunts, grandmothers, godmothers, cousins, fam friends, friends…the emotional support love, affection, and balance they provide are priceless and never-ending.

Below please find tributes for Ranch Mom Week from my FB page:

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JULY 7th:  Fabulous 5 Birthday: We are so blessed to celebrate LIDIA HERNANDEZ, our beloved Tia Lili! Feliz Cumpleanos Tia! No doubt, the #1 funniest person on our Ranch! One of our Fab5 which include Dad, Tia Becky, Tio Freddy, and Tio MundoRIP, Mama to Carmen, Mary, Lupe, Pete, JoeRIP, and FreddyRIP, Abuelita, Tia, Hermana, Prima, Ranch Mom. Tia Lili helps us take care of Dad, makes the best homemade tortillas ever, and has been there for us Torres5 always and especially during these past few months. Que la pases bien hoy Tia Lili! We love you! We took this pic of Tia Lili this past weekend and, in true Tia Lili style, her hand is up and she’s turning away from the camera! That is, unless she’s doing a selfie ‘para el book face’ with Christy! LOL

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JULY 8TH:  Day 2 of Ranch Mom Birthday Week! Today we are blessed to celebrate ELVIRA TORRES, our Tia Elvira! Mama to Kack and Joey and loving Gma to her ‘boys’! Tia Elvira has been our next door neighbor our entire lives, she has the most awesome yard of the Ranch, our littles call it the ‘park’, no one can make arroz rice like she can, she definitely tells it like it is too! It’s great to have a Ranch Mom right next door and she so loved Mama. She was in great spirits this morning when I took her some flowers and I love to see Tia Elvi like this. She was on the way to lunch with her Coqui and espero pases bien tu dia! We love you! Love this pic of Tia Elvira taken a couple of months ago…

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MAMA’s Tribute:  JULY 9th I celebrate Mama’s first birthday in heaven. I remember last year about this time, I came to the Ranch as it was my “day” with my folks, I never really left after that – I just knew that I needed to be around for my mom and she’d always tell me, “you don’t have to be here all of the time”. Many days, I was like her sparring partner and would tease her that I was helping her keep her mind sharp. Mama was always happiest in her house and I find so much comfort hanging out here too and love it that I can put on some of her clothes when I feel sad. Y’all know that life with my Dad is fun and he does make me shake my head sometimes LOL. Missing her has become a part of my life and keeping up with her traditions allows me to continue to get to know this woman who was able to always love and keep going in faith no matter what. Super blessed to have had Mama in my life while she was here with us and super blessed to be able to celebrate her always…Mama, hope it’s as beautiful there as you told Christy it was. Happy Birthday Sra.! Love love love you. Finally found a pic of her in red/white/blue and the other is one of the last pics we took of her!