Tag Archives: dealing with death

Celebrating My Dad … With a Small Latte, and a Box of Betty Crocker

30 Jan

It’s a big one today. The BIG 6-5. He would’ve been 65 today.

Happy Birthday balloon and flowers for dad.

Happy Birthday balloon and flowers for dad.

We definitely would’ve had a party, complete with fancy table cloths and napkins. Not the paper kind, I suppose. And steak, definitely steak for dinner, followed by a cake. A special order one from the Cuban bakery down the street, not my annual  homemade cake from a box. We’d  be surrounded by family, friends, a special slide show/montage of his life through pictures and maybe even a speech. And in truth there would also probably be all kinds of stress because of the festivities and my crazy control-freak sister. But instead I spent it with a small latte and a box of Betty Crocker.

Many people need it. They wake up in the morning in a horrible, ready-to-beat-someone-up mood, but then they smell it. It’s in the air. The aroma. It catches them and then there’s a deep breath … a sigh of relief. It changes everything. And then when they taste it … forget about it. Coffee. For some people it’s the X Factor of the day. Me … I hadn’t had one in over a year and before that, fifteen years ago when I tried it in college at a one of those “cool” coffee shops on the corner and all it did was give me a crazy, horrible stomach ache and prevent me from studying that night. I ended up with cup of Sal de Uvas. I’m a tea person myself. But today …  today I ordered something called a latte, and then another one, for my dad. A simple coffee, black with two sugars.

“Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

I said it in times of sadness or stress, mostly to make him laugh. And it worked. I don’t know where I’d heard it, probably on TV or something.

“Thanksgiving coming around. Stressed out about all those turkeys and inventory at the store, huh? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

“My sister’s getting married and not just moving out of state, but way to the other side of the country, like by the Atlantic Ocean. Hmph. You wanna have a cup of coffee and talk about life?”

The Sopranos is ending, huh? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

“April 14. 11:50 p.m. Haven’t filed taxes yet, huh? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”


I was a tea drinker, but it got him every time.

My Dad hanging out with us back in the day.

My Dad hanging out with us back in the day.

So today in honor of him turning 65, there was no fancy restaurant, no fancy trip, no presents, and no family or friends, but there was cake. I woke up early, made a trip to the VONS, walked over to aisle 2 and grabbed a box of Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix. The Super Moist kind. Whipped up the simple recipe, looked at my own slide show, remembered old stories, and then headed over to see my dad.

But I made one quick stop. I bought myself the latte, and then bought him his regular coffee. I headed off to the cemetery to have that conversation. I’ll have to admit … it was a little one-sided, and the deer or gardeners will probably drink the coffee I left for him, but I still enjoyed the visit. I just missed his voice. His voice and his laughter.

But the cake … the cake was good. Chocolate frosting of course. I ate both pieces. Feliz Cumpleanos, Chito. 




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Daily Prompt Challenge: The Last Lecture

28 Jan

I thought about Randy Pausch when I saw the Daily Prompt Challenge on Eulogies and wondered if I could be that courageous and upbeat if I were in the same situation. But pancreatic cancer and death isn’t really funny. I wondered if I could give the same kind of kick-ass speech that he did with his Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon University. But I’m not sure. I think I’d be pretty upset with the dying part and all, but I’d hope that if I were in that same situation I could be brave enough to speak the way he did and live by the rule that I’ve currently discovered in this blogging journey … live by The Wish Factor –by finding the funny — by going to my Silver Linings Playbook and hope I got something fantabulous in my corner. But whether I’m 101 or in my late 30s, 40s, or 50s I’d hope that my eulogy would go something like this … maybe even something better than this.

Image via TheLastLecture.com

Image via TheLastLecture.com

Some people remember the laugh and the long curly hair that never changed style since junior high school, well with the exception of the crazy Amanda Miguel-Aquanet Hairspray style of the late 80s, but she’d like to forget that.

Some people remember the Urban Adventures or Sandbox List Adventures at beaches, museums, LEGOLAND excursions, tailgating parties, triathlon races, camping outings, stay-cations, or vacations she had with her kids and the awesome feeling she got being their mom, because it was the best and most treasured relationship of her life. It was love.

Some people remember that she referred to herself as the Chapstick type, and not the lipstick type of girl. Some people thought about her when they saw the Trojans playing on the football field, because she practically bled Cardinal & Gold. Some people thought about her when they saw a great piece of chocolate at Trader Joe’s or any store for that matter because calories and dieting meant nothing when it came to chocolate.

Some people remember her for her zest of dancing and willingness to attack the dance floor, no matter who was out there … she was La Chona, something she probably got from her mother, along with the strong character. 

Most people remembered her sense of humor and the funny she brought with her in any gathering, whether it was personal disaster stories of macing herself in the dead of night on a dark, quiet street on the way home from the library in college, or slapstick comedy like her constant battle with gravity and walking.  Most people remember how she enjoyed laughing and making others laugh too.  

Some people remember her for having the Dreamer’s Disease with no cure. She was in love with the underdog story and hoped hers would have a happy ending, like Rudy, Hoosiers, or The Pursuit of Happiness. She had heart. A big one. She was compassionate. She’d hoped that her spirit and laughter was contagious and that the people she met were a little bit better because they had crossed paths. But she was also stubborn, obsessed with the power of the remote control, loved watching re-runs, and was a horrible morning person before 7 a.m.

But most of all, she’d hoped to be remembered as her father’s daughter, because they had the same witty, adventurous spirit — the I’ll-go-sky-diving-Rocky-Mountain-climbing-2.7 seconds-on-a-bull-named-Blue-Man-Chu kind of spirit even though they were a little scared of heights. She’d hoped to be remembered for having a freak flag and not being afraid to fly it. But most of all she’d hoped she’d just be remembered by family and friends.

Daily Prompt Challenge: Write Your Own Eulogy.

I Bought an Extra Bag of Greenies and Some Snausages

23 Nov

You got osteoporosis, hearing problems, cognitive impairment, hypertension, and aches and pains in about every joint in your body.


Being a senior citizen is tough. My dog. She’s a member of the club.

I’ve known her since she was two, she’s currently 14 going on 15 and apparently the life expectancy for Dalmatians happens to be around 16.


My dog Pinta … hanging out at the fire house


She’s walking The Green Mile.

It saddens me to see that her clock is slowly winding down. Earlier in the week she was having problems walking. Her hind legs weren’t really doing their job — they weren’t being very supportive so I found myself picking her up and helping her get outside. But she only needed a little lift and then she’d get the hang of it again. One foot, and then another and another. However yesterday … yesterday was quite different.

The Thanksgiving feast was well under way and the aroma filled the house. This aroma would usually get her up and trotting towards the table, hoping that someone would drop a piece of turkey. However she didn’t get up and in fact when she tried, her hind legs wobbled and she fell.

My dude gave me the look. The Dr. Kevorkian look and I strongly suggested going to the doctor and getting a professional opinion before he made plans to pull the plug on her. He initiated the “I-know-what-I’m-doing” conversation. The one that included his speech about having owned dogs before and how he just knew what would come next.

This began the heated conversation about veterinarians. I felt we should go to the office and have her assessed by one … you know to see if there was anything I could do to help improve my dog’s situation. He felt differently. He felt there was no need for doctors, you know seeing how he knew everything there was to know about dogs. He felt the need to tell me this repeatedly. However I still insisted we visit the doctor.

Unfortunately everyone was closed on Thanksgiving. They were closed the entire weekend, so we had to take her to urgent dog care. This is where our heated conversation continued. For a minute I thought she wasn’t going to come back with us, and I got extremely depressed about the whole situation. I started imagining the worst-case scenario and started thinking about the past and all the things we’ve been through. She was part of my family. I had plenty of time to think. We were there for three hours. Three, and they weren’t even that busy.  We’re going to see our regular vet on Monday and run some tests.

I guess it’s probably old age, but it could be something else. The hopeful possibility occurred to me, but it failed to enter the imagination of my dude. And that just burned me out. I was stressed out and so worried about the dog and there he was with his Dr. Kevorkian mentality and sassy attitude, which of course didn’t help. Now I know that we don’t want our dog to suffer, and we don’t want her in pain, but I would like all the facts before making that tough decision that all pet owners have to make.  I mean people say “putting them to sleep,” because I imagine it sounds less drastic. But it still sucks. It’s still death.

I’m hoping for some good news on Monday, but I’m preparing for the worst. I bought an extra bag of Greenies and a large bag of Snausages.

She’s living it up this weekend.