Tag Archives: love

Alternate Universes with The Wire on Father’s Day

17 Jun

I haven’t been able to perfect the superpower of fending off jackasses with magic bracelets or a golden lasso. I’m not on the Wonder Woman level yet.

But I get plenty of practice without asking.

I knew Father’s Day was going to be hard, but it was a rough one today. On all levels from the early morning, until the moment I started typing this post. It’s been a day I wish would end. And the sad thing is I actually practiced some positive thinking and positive vibes this morning, but the universe sent me different energy.

Apparently I needed to brush up on those superhero skills. But instead all I felt was anger, frustration, and emotional exhaustion.

Random strangers being complete jackasses at the cemetery, the cemetery of all places! I thought at the very least since we’re all grieving people would respect the sanctity of the cemetery. But instead it ended up in a cage match battle of words with a no-holds-barred level of intensity and aggression. Then on top of that, people close to you just say the ugliest things that bring you down, knowing full well that this is a tough day.  I mean it’s no wonder we’re distant, friendship suffering and all. The toxic level is so high that I just can’t go through that again and I’m on the verge of just giving up on them.

All this negative energy and nastiness leaves me feeling teary-eyed about all the ugliness I went through today. I mean, I’m too old for this crap.

And of course, the worst part … it’s Father’s Day and I know that my day would have been completely different if my pops were here. I know it. I’m stuck in an alternate universe and have to keep figuring out how this ride is gonna end up without him here. I guess it’s the unfinished life and all the missed opportunities that really bother me. That feeling always increases on holidays like this.

In an effort to keep him around this week, I had a Season I and Season II binge-watching session of The Wire just to remember  what it was like hanging out with him, his commentary on Omar, McNulty, and Lester. I still think about him often, but days like this, my thoughts are extra heavy. You see about eight years ago on Father’s Day was the last time we spoke. I mean I talked to him every day in the hospital when I was on night shift, but Father’s Day was the last time we had a conversation.

It wasn’t a life talk, or lessons he had yet to teach me, or anything like that. It was about how he was feeling. And about The World Cup, that’s something that really had him excited. His prediction and his favorite teams. He had me record some games, so he could catch up when he got out. It was a to-be-continued conversation, really. Not a good-bye, more like a see you later. You see I didn’t think he was gonna die, I just didn’t. Not my Dad. But he did. So I was left with about a month-long of one-sided late-night conversations. Him listening to me, but not being able to respond. Those were the heartfelt life talks, for sure. So much was said, and I was glad I said it. And the thing is, I never wondered whether or not he heard me, I knew he heard me as I held his hand night after night.

And so I find it so difficult to get passed these days without him by side. I have no regrets because I told him everything I needed to, but I definitely wish he was still here. I wouldn’t need superhero power training and all, to fend off bad guys at the cemetery if he were around.

But he’s not.

So I keep things that he enjoyed close by and I hear his voice when I can … and so now I’m off to dreamland to dream a dream I hope he is in. Maybe we’re having a cup of coffee and talking about life, me drinking tea of course, him with his coffee, black two sugars. Or maybe we’re just watching the The Wire. I’ll let you know how it pans out.

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Happy Father’s Day everyone.

Buen Camino …

 

 

 

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How The Story Ended

18 Apr

It ended the way it was supposed to.

You see, when I got there, I took a moment. During the morning rush, chaos of leaving my kids, driving through traffic, and feeling overwhelmed and nervous with emotions, I stopped and took a moment. During the whole process of rising to the top, I took a moment when I saw the poster and I had it.

I had the something-bigger-than-myself emotion running through me. I had the gratitude and humility of the amazing kindness shown to me by my supporters who contributed to my cause. They helped me raise over $1000 for the American Lung Association in honor of my father, and they helped impact someone else’s life.

I had my dad’s spirit watching over me, knowing I haven’t forgotten him, knowing that he’s part of the reason I am who I am.

As the race began, I had the why in my heart and it helped my get through the how.

You see, there’s something that’s always certain about this race. It’s NOT easy. It never is, no matter how hard I train. It tests every muscle in my legs. It doesn’t make it easier to know what’s coming. I was still anxious and nervous. But I looked up to the sky and knew the reason why. So, I turned on the music, heard Los Polifaceticos bust out Camaron Pelao and took the first step. But never fear La Chona was track #3 and Footloose was on the horizon.

Then, right there on the eighth floor was a randomly placed poster of my father, there he was smiling, sitting next to me and my sister, with the title Why We Climb. There were posters of a lot of loved ones on the way to the top, and it tugged at my heart. The Rocky Balboa spirit surged.

 

As I climbed, my breathing slowed down and my legs felt heavy, my body became acutely aware of the claustrophobic dynamics and inner architectural workings of staircases. Once again, they appeared to lack the free-flowing breeze of the outdoors, which apparently is extremely necessary to oxygenate my muscles. My Randy Macho Man Savage strength was severely tested by the time I hit the 14th floor and I knew … I knewwwwwwwwwwwwww I’d be using that CVS three-dollar coupon for a tube of BenGay and that ice packs would be my knees’ best friends. No amount of pre-or-post stretching would have helped. By the time I reached the 31st floor my calves were not happy. They were intensely screaming profanity at me … in Spanish. There were a lot of people feeling that wrath as I passed some of them on the stairs resting, sitting, hunched over, drinking water, or in need of an oxygen mask.

But I never stopped.

I kept my Dad on my mind, and in my heart, and when I saw floor 61, I sprinted up the stairs like Usain Bolt until I saw the sunlight and reached the roof.

I made it to the top … 15 minutes, 28 seconds.

15 minutes and 28 seconds of intensity, of hard work, of sweat, of emotion, of heart, and of will. 15 minutes and 28 seconds of honoring a man that sacrificed so much for me.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

But Why Do You Do It?

13 Apr

I always get a little nervous before it happens.

Anything can happen … and some people don’t make it.

I’m lucky.

Knock on wood. I don’t want to jinx myself.

But it’s an important day for me, may be not for my entire family, but definitely for me.

Well … why do you do it?  I mean I understand it’s a race and it’s for charity, but why do you do it? Why do you have to climb all those stairs?

No one had ever asked me that. They seemed to understand the why and the girl asking me also seemed to understand the why, it’s for my Dad. She was just confused as to the why of the location. Why scale 1,393 steps? Why go up 63 floors in the name of the American Lung Association?

It’s a metaphor, I thought.

It’s for all those people who couldn’t breathe, who felt the heaviness in their chest, the gasping for air, and the claustrophobic sense of not getting enough oxygen. It’s putting yourself in their position, in people like my dad, who died from Interstitial Lung Disease, or people with COPD, or lung cancer, or asthma. It’s putting yourself in their shoes and fighting your way past the challenges. It’s about feeling an ounce of what they feel and rising to the top, because they fight for every breath, just like we’d be doing.

It’s hard. But that’s probably why I do it, and why it makes me nervous. The difficulty level of it all. But it’s also the reason why I get the strength to go forward, because I got him in my heart. I got him on my shoulder. I got him and other supporters watching my back and cheering me on from a far. It’s hard but I got a good reason behind my motivation.

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For the sixth year in ‘ll be taking on the Fight for Air Climb this Saturday, racing 63 stories, 1,393 steps, in hopes of raising enough money to help others suffering from lung disease.

It’s 1,393 steps. And I feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel them every single one of them when I climb. But I make it to the top, scared, nervous, or Gatorade-Commercial ready. I make it because I think of the  1,393 times my Dad was there for me, when I was in diapers, or the 1,393 times he was there for me when I was kid, or the 1,393 times he was there for me when I was away in school. He was there … the good, the bad, and the ugly he was there. And that’s not to say that we had our fair share of blowouts, we probably had 1,393 arguments, but he was still my Dad and still my friend. And that’s why I climb.

I climb to honor his memory, his hard-working life to provide a better future, his tireless days of clocking in and out of a job he may not have dreamed of, but showed up because it’s what helped keep us afloat.

So why do I do it?

I climb because everything I am I owe to him, and it’s the very least I could do.

Buen Camino my friends!!

 

 

 

The Night Before Six …

13 Jul

It didn’t occur to me that the Birthday Eves were important to kids too. I just thought only adults took stock and thought about the night before turning 40. I realized it’s a moment to pause for kids too. I wished I would have thought about it sooner, so I could have done this earlier for my kids and for my son, so that I could look back and remember all the times that slip into forgotten memories unless you have a picture of it. But I was grateful to have remembered and started today.

So I wrote her a letter …

 

You didn’t even need me to catch you this time.

You found the courage to jump off the edge and perform your best cannonball yet. And it was only your second attempt. You smiled. You finally went on the blue slide … six times you raced me. Six times I won but you didn’t care, because that wasn’t the point of the blue slide.

We were there three-and-a-half hours.

You ate a strawberry-orange-fruity Popsicle and it claimed your front tooth, the one that wiggled all morning long, the one you wouldn’t let me touch. The pool-side Popsicle made the arrival of the tooth fairy possible.

You won a book, a dinosaur book, on the last day of the summer reading book club over at the library, and you high-fived me.

The hotel that lost your soft, plush brown stuffed-dog that you’ve had since you were one-year-old, the hotel that claimed it had no idea how it disappeared from your bed, sent a FedEx package to our door. Brownie appeared and was back in bed with you tonight.

But before you went to sleep we talked about it being your last day as a five-year old and how that felt, what you expected six would be like, what your best memories of being five were … you were grateful for that day. You cried a little, though, you were worried about being six. Your brother told you that being six was gonna be great and that you’d probably be tall enough to ride some roller-coasters now, play on the big playground at school, and read some good books.

Being six would be easy for you.

We had a family hug for a couple of minutes and that seemed to do the trick. You were still worried but you found your courage.

As you lay in my arms I remembered this was the year you tried out for softball and you liked playing first and third base the most. Your favorite part was batting. It was your first year of kindergarten and you met your buddy Emma. Your favorite shows were PAW Patrol, PJ Masks, Doc McStuffins, Sesame Street, and America Ninja Warrior. Your favorite animals were elephants, hippos and dinosaurs. You really liked reading Elephant & Piggie books by Mo Willems, The Fred and Ted Series by P.D. Eastman, The Skippyjon Jones Series … all of them, Dr. Seuss, The Hungry Caterpillar, and Good Night, Goodnight Construction Site. Your favorite movies were The Ice Age Series, Despicable Me and Moana. You didn’t like getting out of bed, you were the give-me-five-more-minutes-mom kind of morning person, but you did enjoy you feel-good songs to wake you up. You enjoyed Footloose, Our House In The Middle of the Street, Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Starting Something, and U2’s Songs of Innocence — the entire CD.

You liked art and drawing, you liked playing Legos and America Ninja Warrior with your brother, you like me chasing you, giving you piggy back rides, splashing in the kiddie pool, watching you ride your bike, and you really like doing The Wave at baseball games.

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It was a great day to be five-years old. The last day you would be five and it had many Jar of Awesome Moments. You have a Pippi-Longstocking-Amelia-Bedelia-Goonies-Moana adventurous spirit. I’m hoping to remember it all.

I’ll especially remember me making your birthday cupcakes. You requested chocolate cupcakes instead of a cake this year, chocolate with chocolate with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles.

I tried a new recipe and it was an epic fail. Disaster all over the kitchen and cupcakes tasted and looked nothing like cupcakes at 11:23 p.m. They were just gross. I have no idea what happened, but I imagine it had something to do with my math and my ounces/grams to cups/tablespoon conversion.

So, what could I do but laugh and start again. Finished the cupcakes after midnight and then started on the frosting … Birthday cupcakes will be great tomorrow.

Last day of being five definitely rocked it.

 

 

The Countdown Has Begun!

27 Mar

10 Days!

The countdown is on and my Randy Macho Man Savage quads are preparing for this battle. Don’t know if my calves are ready though. But the rest of my body seems to think that I’ve got this.

In 10 days, my vitamin-D-deficient-but-glucosamine-fueled body will be sprinting, running, jogging, walking and then crawling up 63 stories,  along with hundreds of other sweaty and out of breath climbers in claustrophobic conditions to help raise money for the American Lung Association.

But why?!

Why does this insanity take place?

I’m not a morning person.

But I see his smiling face under a Dodgers hat, I hear his hearty laugh, and I smell that Jovan Musk aftershave in the hallways … and I wake up with purpose. I wake up ready to run stairs. And what kind of elevator-loving-stair-hating person does that?! What kind of person with BenGay-Advil-Ice-Pack-loving knees laces up her Saucony running shoes to storm high school bleachers or winding staircases hidden in the hills, instead of hitting the snooze button?

 

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Me … I do it … because he’s worth it.

63 stories.

Yup.

He’s worth the trip to the anti-aging aisle at CVS.

Every year I still bake the cake, even though he’s not gonna blow out the birthday candles. Every year I tell the story of why they call him Chito 7 Pantalones. Every year I replay the messages left on my answering machine just to hear his voice again. Every year I decide to make the excruciatingly difficult journey up 63 stories, painfully possible. Every year I go in believing I’m Lindsey Wagner, putting my bionic knee to the test, climbing over 1,000 steps just for him. Every year I finish knowing full well I have nothing bionic in me.

But every year I do it because I am my father’s daughter and his spirit is still with me.

It’s with me on skydiving adventurous or beach bum days, it’s there on the passenger seat when I’m hearing that feel-good song, it’s  with me when I’m chasing dreams, and when I’m trying to be a better parent. He’s there in one of his many baseball caps that I wear with a smile, he’s my TV buddy when I’m watching The Walking Dead, Peaky Blinders, or Narcos. He’s there high-fiving me when SC wins, and he’s also a member of my Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy Support Group.

He’s there when I’m climbing stairs.

I got 10 days.

The countdown is on.

 

 

Extra Cherries …

16 Jul

It never gets any easier, people say it does. But it doesn’t. It hurts just as much today as it did six years ago and you just have to live with it.

It’s been six years since my Dad passed away and it’s always a tough week as I celebrate my daughter’s birthday one day and remember my Dad’s passing the next. I try to celebrate his life instead of agonizing about his death and why he got sick, but I end up just missing his presence everywhere I go that day.

In smelling his last bottle of cologne he left on the bathroom counter, or hearing the few messages he left on the answering machine, I still feel a sense of closeness. But most of the connection I get is from the stories and adventures we had together.

Like when I used to visit him at work back in my elementary and junior high school days. I’d have to sit in a booth, or at the counter while he was picking up his check or something. He worked two jobs a lot of the time. This one seemed more fun to me since I was able to eat all the cherries I wanted.

I’d wait for him, checking out the tiki torch lamps, totem polls,  the pink, green, and yellow drink umbrellas hanging out by the green olives, and the rest of the Hawaiian decor that filled the dimly lit room.

 

 

Their specialty was the the Hawaiian-style spare ribs, which were pretty awesome but not my favorite.

I’d sit down and look at the menu pretending I was a customer. I’d say hi to the manager and everyone setting up, and he’d ask me … “You want something to drink? A Shirley Temple?”

I’d smile.

“Yeah,” I’d say.

He’d smile and then walk behind the bar to fix it up. It’s a simple drink really, but I’d always thought it was super special concoction he had created just for me. He’d bring it out in a tall glass, with an umbrella. He’d put a small napkin on the counter, place my drink on it, and then tap the counter.

I’d smile when I saw it.

Extra cherries.

He’d always put extra cherries in it. We’d talk for a minute while I sipped my drink, and most of the conversations escape me at the moment. I don’t remember whether we talked about my day, his day, or if I needed money for sneakers. I don’t remember if he gave me any advice or if we cracked jokes, but we must have because it feels that way.

But the one thing I do remember were all the Shirley Temples and Roy Rogers I shared with him.I remembered the Hawaiian shirts he had to wear as part of his uniform and how he hated them years later, how he never wore a Hawaiian shirt ever again. Even when we went to Hawaii. He said he had worn enough of those to last him a lifetime. I thought they were cool though, I still have one of his in my closet.

We’d sit at the counter or in the booth and it felt cool just to hang out with my Dad for a minute.

When I finished my drink and we had to be on our way, he’d ask if I wanted another.

I’d smile because I knew extra cherries were part of the deal.

That was my Dad, he was an extra cherries kind of guy, and these were the things I thought about all day, and a sadness and hurt filled up my heart that night because he was gone and things would have been so different if he were still here, and my kids missed out on getting to know their grandpa.

But I guess that would mean that I would have to be the extra cherries kind of person in their life.

My Dad was great at it. Me? I’m working on it.

Buen Camino …

 

 

I Thought Of A Couple Someones

8 Jul

 

It made me smile.

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When I saw this mural at the book fair I had to stop and smile.

You know, there are those days that catch you on the blind side even when you’re looking over your shoulder, they still flatten you right out. So when I saw this it made me smile.

Sometimes the universe sends you little signs here and there, just to let you know that even if you’re missing something there are other things that you have in abundance. Even when you can’t see it, there are little things like this that give you a moment.

And sometimes all you need is a moment during a really crappy day to help you turn the corner, a moment of breath to realize … yeah I got that.

So I stood in front of it, took a deep breath, and thought of someone I loved … a couple someones.

And then my kids ran out of Goldfish Crackers and were like … let’s go already mom.

Introducing Me To Clint Eastwood

18 Jun

On quiet nights like this I miss seeing his briefcase by the door, his white butcher coat and shirt laying on the armrest, and the smell of the coffeemaker percolating the night’s brew. Night time coffee and HBO on a Saturday night. That was him.

Tonight it’s quiet, no briefcase, no white coat, no baseball caps, no coffee percolating and no HBO talk. Just me and some laundry.

I passed by the CVS the other day and saw all the Star Wars Father’s Day cards, I saw the funny ones with pets, the ones with fishing poles, golf clubs, and cartoons. I still read them, but it hurt. It hurts to buy cards he’s not going to read or keep in his briefcase. It hurts missing out on conversations about life and Father’s Day dinners.

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At times like this when breathing becomes hard because you miss someone so much, I find comfort in storytelling. Story remembering, really. I try to write as much as I can now so that my kids will be able to see how I saw my father and how I felt. So that my kids will know their grandfather had a good heart, that he had problems too, but that he tried. He tried and he kept his heart in tact during the process.

He suffered the loss of his Dad too, just when he was 10, and his life couldn’t have been easy, but he tried his best. He battled depression during my youth and adulthood, and often felt like giving up, but he still tried.

Adventures. Staycations. HBO marathons. Superbowl games. Boxing matches. Supermarket trips. Baskin-Robbins outings. Movie discussions. Costco adventures. Theater excursions. Joke telling stories. And talks. Lots of talks.

Sometimes the missing out is the worst part … my kids missing out on him, missing out on creating their own adventures with grandpa. So I’m hoping the storytelling will create a good picture. I’m hoping they’ll get to know him through my stories and through their grandpa’s adventurous and humorous spirit that lives inside of them.

He liked Westerns. He liked Clint Eastwood. So I found it interesting that Clint would be on TV the night before Father’s Day.

I found it comforting to know that I was watching one of his favorites, while folding laundry in the night time quiet. I figured he might be having a cup of coffee. Black. Two sugars. And remembering stories about me, remembering my dreams, remembering my laugh, remembering all the Father’s Day cards in his Samsonite briefcase, remembering how he introduced me to Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood … he turned out to be all right.

Happy Father’s Day …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discover Challenge: Apology

23 May

Two words.

That’s all it takes.

Some people are not strong enough, big enough, human enough to say it. They don’t know the power behind it, don’t know why.

It helps glue the pieces back together. It works like a Band-Aid. It doesn’t necessarily stop the hurt, but it stops the bleeding.

It’s not that hard. It really shouldn’t be, because it’s a part of love. When you break someone’s heart, when you fail to be there, when cross the line, when you let someone down, when you make them ache, when you make them cry, when you make them feel less, when you’re unkind, when you make a mistake, when you forget, when they look for a friend and you’re no where to be found.

They restore.

It’s a step closer to forgiveness, but it makes it harder to forgive when the words are not there or when they’re empty. Sometimes they never will be there. It happens to a lot of people. They’re left there waiting for it. They deserve to hear it, but sometimes it never comes and what’s left is a hole that keeps getting bigger, and a struggle to keep going and push through.

But eventually, you come out the other side even if you didn’t hear it. You pushed through with the hole in your heart and know you were worthy of those words. You were worthy of them, and you move on.

You let go.

But it would have been so much easier had they said those words …

I’m sorry.

Yup, like a Band-Aid.

I’m sorry, works better than chocolate and wine.

 

Discover Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post.

 

The Orange Dictionary and One Page Left

16 May

I remember taking a moment and thinking I should keep it. I should keep it.

And I did.

But in my early 30s, after having moved for the third time in four years, it didn’t survive. It got tossed around in boxes and then eventually tossed in the recycling pile. I remember pausing for a moment, thinking I should keep it. It was Erick’s. I should hold onto it just in case, but I didn’t and I remember feeling a little twinge the next morning when it was gone.

That orange hardcover dictionary with the word DICTIONARY in bold white courier font. He used it during his high school years to look up words he didn’t know, then look up those words in his Spanish-English dictionary, and then finally have an A-ha! moment after twenty minutes because he had finally figured out what they were asking him. He could finally answer.

My uncle Erick … he was more than just an uncle, he was the brother I never had, my role model growing up, my compass when I lost my footing. He showed me education can definitely create change. He was the first one in our family to graduate from college. He was there for me when I was learning my ABCs  and stood by me when I crossed the graduation stage myself. I knew when he had his own family he would be a great dad.

And he was …

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Uncle Erick … very proud of the pumpkin skills that took place here with his daughter.

So when he died of cancer, when his daughter was only 10 years old, it broke my heart. I knew he was scared, not of death, but of not being in his daughter’s life, watching her grow, dancing at her quinceanera, and clapping for her as she crossed the stage in her cap and gown.

I knew he wanted to be there. So I made sure a part of him would be there with her for all those milestones. I interviewed him and made a scrapbook for her. Quotes, advice, stories, pictures. Messages and things he’d want to say to her when life happened, he was able to do that, to say some of those things.

I’d been giving these pages to her throughout the years, and now 11 years later, after her college graduation I only have one page left. One, and I so wish I still had that dictionary, because it was more than just a book of words, it was a part of his road to success. It was part of his work ethic.

But I didn’t know he was going to die when the dictionary got thrown away. I didn’t know he was gonna get sick. Nobody did. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink. He got the cancer just because he got it. And now I only have one page left.

I gave her the college page this weekend, followed by a hug and the I’m-proud-of-you speech, and the I-know-your-dad-is-proud-of-you-too whisper in the ear.

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My uncle, who helped raise me, was there that day too, sitting in the audience with me. His words were there, in black ink, scribbled in his slanted handwriting written during the last days of his life. He wanted to make sure he was there, and I was glad to have made that possible, because he was always there for me.

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