Tag Archives: fathers

Dia De Los Muertos Inspires A New Conversation

1 Nov

I think about the clicking-clocking sound he used to make when his tongue would hit the roof of his mouth. NUK! He’d knock-knock-knock my forehead simultaneously … you know during one of my McFly moments. My Uncle Erick.

And I think about my Dad and how he used to call me Canela  and how he’d start smiling even before I told the joke.


My Dad and Uncle Erick back in the 70s

The two most important dudes in my life growing up, with the exception of the tallest Texan I know, he hails from Lubbock and has his own story, which I’ll share later. But today … today I talk about My Dad and Uncle Erick, today I talk about their stories because Dia De Los Muertos celebrates their spirits and everything they brought to my life.


They’re on my mind every day, especially when I feel how life could have been so much better if they were still around. And after surviving my Halloween Hangover (why was Halloween on a Monday anyway … KitKat overload) I took a moment to celebrate their lives by sharing some vintage Polaroids and Kodak moments with my kids, accompanied by the stories and adventures behind those pictures.

Whether it was hiking waterfalls in Guatemala, road tripping that had multiple detours, watching SC football on Saturdays, toasting pumpkin seeds on Halloween, or listening to the Bee Gees, Billy Joel, or KC & The Sunshine Band, each adventure added something to my life.

And I miss it, I miss them. I miss the conversations and the reminiscing that brought laughter.

As always it hit me in the pit of my stomach. I celebrated them, and talked about their lives, but was also sad in the end. So I was glad to have come up with a new story about them. A piece based on their lives, inspired by my Uncle Erick.  It’s a conversation. My piece is about a conversation they probably had while my Uncle Erick was growing up. It’s about the advice my dad would have given him and the interesting way he’d go about doing it.

It’s a comedy, of course.

And although this conversation never took place I can totally see it happening because I can hear their voices. I can totally imagine them going through this exchange.

So, on this very special Dia De Los Muertos celebration, I was inspired to write a piece about the two men in my family who I learned from the most.

I’ve even submitted it somewhere … so hopefully their conversation, their story, their journey continues and makes other people laugh in the process.

I’ll keep you posted on that.




To All The Dads …

15 Jun






Aisle 19, The Long-Lost Cookies, and My Dad

17 Mar

I never thought I’d get emotional in aisle 19. I’m not the type of chick that turns on the waterworks quite easily, but there I was … in the cookie aisle, having a moment.

It wasn’t because I’m an emotional eater or I was having Oreo withdrawals from Weight-Watchers-point calculations. No … I happen to come across something that sparked a childhood memory with my Dad. It happens from time to time, in random places, but I usually keep it together.

I hadn’t seen these in over twenty-five years, and I’m sure they were in aisle 19 all along, but I seldom run my cart down that aisle. And when I saw them, I remembered … I remembered … and all I could think about was my Dad and how much I missed him.

As I’ve mentioned before, we grew up in a tough inner-city neighborhood, but that didn’t necessarily mean we didn’t have a slice of something special. Every so often my Dad would drive out about thirty minutes on the freeway to take us to a place called Carnation.

We’d all pile in the brown supreme station wagon and venture off to this restaurant that specialized in making its own ice cream.  Oh. For the love of banana splits made with rocky road and marshmallow topping.

I couldn’t wait to finish my meal, because I knew dessert would be coming shortly. We would all get whatever we wanted, no limits. My sister usually got two scoops of chocolate chip, my mother strawberry, our cousins mint chip … me … I’d go for the banana split … and I’d never have to share. Usually we’d go to other restaurants or 31 Flavors and I’d always have to share my two scoop sundae with someone. But at Carnation … my dad made it a point to splurge. No sharing required, but if you wanted to … you could.

The only thing I absolutely did not share were these cookies that were neatly surrounding my awesome banana split. I’d get six … two for each scoop.

Light, crispy, and sweet. Awesome.

Just as I finished the last one, I’d always want more. But it never happened. Six and that was it. The waitresses weren’t much for extras, so I’d always come home longing for more.

Until one day …

After we had piled back into the station wagon, my Dad remembered that he had left his wallet in the booth. He left all of us there in the parking lot, with our seat belts on, the radio blaring something from the Spanish station KLOVE, and the windows rolled down because the air-conditioner was on the fritz. We were in the shade so it wasn’t too bad.

It took him a while to return. But when he did he smiled and we rushed back home. As we were trekking up the stairs to our apartment building my Dad told me he had forgotten something in the car. It was for my sister and I. He said it was in the front seat.

He tossed me the keys and I went to go get it. As I opened the car door, I saw a brown paper bag in the driver’s seat. I opened it up … it was a box of the sugar wafer creme-filled cookies. A box!

I turned to look at the stairs, my Dad stood there smiling.

He passed away about a year and a half ago and I miss him every day.

So when I saw the cookies on aisle 19 I just had to buy them. I fixed myself up a nice banana split with six cookies, the only thing missing was my dad, his cup of coffee, and our conversation.

Party of Two: My Dad, The Oscars, Nachos and Me.

26 Feb

Different moments, different occasions remind me of my Dad. Random times. When most people are checking out what the stars are wearing down the Red Carpet and wondering why so many breasts are making appearances, I would always check the clock, because I knew my Dad was on his way home, ready for our Oscar Party.

Most people who I know don’t really make a big deal of Oscar Night. I mean they may or may not watch it. It’s not a DVR kind of event for them. But for me and my Dad…we had “the Dreamer’s Disease.” Well I had it and my Dad got it by association. I would tell him … “the day I become an awesome writer and get nominated for award like the Oscars or Emmys you will be date, Dad.” And when most people would laugh or just say get your head out of the clouds, his response was … “well I guess I’ll have to rent a tuxedo.”

The Oscars

The Oscars

It was a night where we hoped our favorite picks got selected. We also looked for the person with the most genuine enthusiasm as they received the golden statue, as well as the best speech. So far my Dad’s top pick was Cuba Gooding Jr. for Jerry Maguire. He smiled to see someone so happy. That’s probably what I would look like if I won. No he said…that’s probably what we would look like if you won.

Aside from looking for the most genuine, we’d also have a pool and side bets. My Dad would always choose Clint Eastwood, even when he wasn’t nominated he’d say Clint Eastwood would have won that one. Sometimes he’d go with Jack Nicholson. Sometimes he’d get it right, other times well …

But he’d get over it with food. Even though our Oscar party wasn’t ice sculptures and caviar, it had good eats, ambiance, and Guat humor. Carne asada, rice, beans, enchiladas, and nachos. I know it sounds like Super Bowl food, but for a writer and a dreamer the Oscars is the Super Bowl. With all the savory tasties you would think we had like ten people there, but no. It was just me and Dad. My mom would hang out for a little bit, but then go upstairs and crash, or watch something else. Premios Nuestros or Cristina, something like that. So for the most part it was just me and Dad, sometimes my cousin…the moocher.

But the best part was hanging out. Sitting on our worn-out couch stuffed with food, we’d sip our after-you-pig-out drinks: ginger-ale for me, coffee for my Dad. We hung out like buddies surrounded by decorations from the 99-cent store or Pic-and-Save, which I used to make it look more festive.

So today as I poured the cheese on my Tostitos, and covered them with chicken, pinto beans, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, jalapenos, and sour cream I thought about my Dad, and how he’d probably enjoy the fact that Billy Crystal was hosting it again. I looked at this towering dish of awesomeness oozing with monster calories, and I missed my Dad, wished he hadn’t passed away.

I shook my head … too bad Clint Eastwood wasn’t up for it this year, Dad would’ve liked that.