Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yonder Year


We never know what the future may hold
at the beginning of a new year.

Almost a year ago I wrote about how it might be
the last Mother's Day I spend with my mother.
But, here she is, 
still fighting,
still living,
still going strong.

So one never knows...

All I know is that:
every day has to be treasured
even when she frustrates me to the point of screaming.
every moment has to be enjoyed
even when I get suddenly tearful thinking it might be the last.
every chance I have to tell her I love her has to be used
because I want her always to know that I do.
and,
every second I have to give thanks to God
for just another opportunity to spend with her.



Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for eXhausted!

I have been switching from nights to days with no sleep as my body adjusts... and I think I might be catching a cold... promise to write more as we finish up the challenge...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for World Traveler


Momma and I about to board a plane to Puerto Vallarta...

Like I said before, I can't remember a time we
weren't going somewhere.

We've traveled all over Mexico.
We went to Australia for three weeks
when I graduated from college.
We went to Europe for three weeks
just before I started preparing for med school.
She made it to Alaska on a cruise this last November.
And, recently, we've been exploring the western U.S.
one road trip at a time.

She still has places she wants to go,
but time is running out...

Can I get her on a cruise to the Panama Canal?
Could she make it to Morocco and Greece?
She always wanted to visit Japan.

How do you make time when time is limited?
How do you continue to move forward when almost daily
there are set-backs?
Her wishes have become my wishes,
and I still want to grant them...
But will there be enough time
and can she survive the journey
when her path is almost at an end?






Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Varsity


This is a picture of me wearing my mother's 
Varsity Sweater.

You can't see the big "F" for Fullerton Union High School
or the "56" on the sleeve for her graduation year,
but this is her sweater.

She earned it playing Varsity Tennis of all things.
I remembered that she had tennis rackets in the garage.
We never played, and I don't remember her playing.
But she wouldn't get rid of them.

I learned one day that her father had bought them for her;
quite an expensive gift given that my grandfather
was a migrant farm worker with four other kids to feed,
 but he was proud of her accomplishments.

They are vintage wooden racquets with the
wooden racquet frame presses still on them.

http://jimstennis.com/contextRoot/html/racketPressesCollection/presses.html

Her specialty was women's pairs, and I guess
her and her partner won a lot of matches.

I kind of like to imagine my mom like that,
young and aggressive.
Full of life and verve.
Her father would end up dying just before her graduation.
Maybe she would have gone on to play college tennis.
Maybe she would have had a scholarship.

Maybe I need to talk to her some more,
and hear about her varsity days.
Let her re-live those matches, one more time.



Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Univision


or Spanish soap operas.
And, I've written about how much Momma
LOVES her soaps.

Even on vacation, she's worried about her shows.
She's only following one right now, 
but still if I can, when I can, 
she wants to keep up on what's happening.
So I pull out the iPad and fire up
Hulu or our satellite network and
stream the latest episode for her.

And, then she tries to drag me into the story...

"Well that one is having an affair with this other
one's wife, but he really loves his own wife
who had an affair, but divorced him because of his affair
and even though she's still in love with him
she tells him she doesn't ever want to see him again."

And, just like that, BAM!  You're sucked in.

Actually, I stopped watching telenovelas because
they were sucking me in... I was spending too much time just trying to keep
up on the stories and missing important things... like gardening or
cleaning the house on my days off.

But, Momma can enjoy them.  It gives her something
to look forward to in the evening, and something
to talk about during the day... 
And, I don't mind listening,
because, really, they can get quite intriguing...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Travel


As I've stated before,
from an early age Momma always stressed the importance of travel.
 I can remember being 5 and going on my first airplane trip.
I was so excited I threw up all over her new coat.


Since then, I can't think of a year we didn't travel somewhere.


Momma and pre-DH in Puerto Vallarta
(*they were learning how to get along)


Momma in Colima, Mexico


Me and Momma on my honeymoon in Cozumel, Mexico


On a boat in Key West


Miami Beach, FL


Alaska Cruise, in Skagway


Grand Canyon train, AZ


Badlands National Park, in an RV


Momma fulfilling her bucket list item
of seeing Mt. Rushmore.
She told me she never thought she'd live long enough
to see it with her own eyes. 
I'm glad I was able to make that happen.

I hope we still have time
to make a few more trips
because the journey has been great so far.









Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Siblings


Momma had 5 siblings.
One is still alive.

Momma was second oldest.

My aunt Antonia "Toni" pictured on Momma's left was the oldest.
She died the Thursday before Sept. 11.  I know that because I flew home on
Friday and left on the morning of Sept. 11th.
If I had stayed for her funeral, I never would have made it back to
med school on time because of the flight ban.
Momma had retired in 2001 because of my aunt.
They were going to travel together,
but then my aunt was diagnosed with esophageal cancer
and died within a year.

Momma said there was a younger sister who died as a child,
maybe less than 2 years old.
She can't remember what she died of,
maybe pneumonia?

Fourth in line was my Uncle Ruben;
he's the lone brother sitting in front.
he was the father figure in my life;
the man who taught me how not to be a girl.
He died in May of 2004.
I was finishing my intern year in Chicago.
Momma had relied on him and his wife 
for various things, and then he was gone, too.
She had been close to him since he had lived
with us in my grandmother's house until he got
married at the age of 35.

Next in line is my Uncle Fernando.
He's still alive and not pictured above.
He didn't make it to that reunion.
He's probably the sibling Momma was
least closest to.
Even now, they don't talk much,
but still he's her only living sibling.

Finally, was my Aunt Margarita "Maggie."
She's on Momma's right in the photo.
She lived right around the corner from my Mom's house.
Momma spent most of the holidays over at her home.
Aunt Maggie was on dialysis, and when Momma could still walk,
she'd go over to spend time with her, or she'd talk to her on the phone
almost weekly.
Aunt Maggie died this last August.
I think that one hit Momma the hardest as she had lost
the one remaining sibling with whom she really had a relationship;
the one last person she ever really talked to.

Momma left the next day with me as planned for our
cruise trip to Alaska.
She didn't want to go to the funeral.

I know she had a heavy heart traveling, and she
didn't really talk much to my Uncle Felix or his kids after she returned.
They were upset she didn't go to the funeral, but she said she wouldn't have gone.
She'd been at my aunt's bedside when she died.
She said she'd already done her good-byes.

She declined a bit after that, 
and I made the decision she had to come live with me.
But I know she misses her family,
and she thinks of her siblings often.






Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Rosary


If I close my eyes, I can see it:
black beads with an aurora borealis finish that
glistened as they passed through her fingers.

I can't think of a day that my mother hasn't
prayed on her Rosary.

My mother is Roman Catholic,
and for her, praying the rosary is just a part
of her everyday routine.

She prays for a lot of things.
I know she prays for me.
It's her time for reflection.
It's her faith.




Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Quiet

Momma & Dillon napping

I've come to dread quiet times
because it makes me start to think too much
of what is coming up.

I think about death a lot.
I think about her death a lot.
Different scenarios.
Everything from where it might happen
to what do I do once it happens
to what do I do after it's all done and everyone's gone home.

And stuff.
Her stuff.
All the stuff.
And things like wills and probate and
and and and.

And, I cry, a bit,
then tell myself it's not time yet,
but I know it will be time soon...
And every day is one more day closer
to not having her in my life any more.

I dread the quiet...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Peppy


My mom's last dog was Peppy.
He died about a year ago.

When her previous dog, Sheba, died,
I had imagined getting her something small and fluffy.
Then her co-worker brought Peppy for her.

He was a stray that had been picked up by her law enforcement son
because some homeless had been kicking at the puppy.
Momma's co-worker said that when her son went to get the dog
all he did was growl, but he was able to get him in the car.
She knew that Momma had just lost her dog and thought
that Peppy would be a good match.

I don't know why.
I remember when she brought him home from work.
Fifteen pounds of pure mutt, maybe chihuahua, maybe bull dog,
may be a lot of things.

He was rebellious;  had been used to living on the streets.
And he had a TON of energy,
hence the name, "Peppy."

He peed all over the floor,
he growled if you wouldn't let him do something,
he thought he was the $&!*.

I told Momma he should go to the pound,
but she said "everyone deserves a chance."
So she worked with him, got him housebroken,
and he was her constant companion.

Later when I moved to NorCal, she would bring Peppy along.
He didn't chase the cats, he didn't fuss with the chickens,
and my dogs put up with him.


He traveled well, and took everything in stride.
Momma did a good job rehabilitating him.
Just as she did everything else,
with a lot of patience and love.

Peppy lived a full and happy life,
and he is waiting for her across the Rainbow Bridge.

And, I know she misses him daily.
Although Dillon is working hard to make himself
the top dog in her life...





Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Organization


One thing about Momma is she's organized.
In fact, she's one of the most organized people I know...

She always taught me to:
 -  never put anything on a credit card
that I wouldn't be able to pay off the next month
 - collect all of my receipts in a shoe box so that I could
easily do my taxes the following year
 - never let the gas go below 1/4 gallon so that
the car would continue to run efficiently
 - make sure I pay all my bills on time
so I wouldn't collect any late fees and ruin my credit

Of course, I never listened to her and came close a couple of times
to running out of gas, I can never find all of my paperwork for the 
accountant on time so I have to file for an extension, and there
was a time I was so behind on bills and overwhelmed with debt
 I almost considered filing for bankruptcy.

But I think I inherited a little bit of her organizational skills.
I can keep up with my calendar and make it to work on time,
and the electricity has only been
turned off once... 
ok, maybe twice... since I've lived on my own...


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Happy 78th Birthday, Momma


Momma on her 78th birthday....
She got to gamble last night, and then we got up
and she gambled some more as we 
spent the night at an Indian Casino RV Park.

She's been pleased with the trip so far,
and nothing will replace the look of wonderment and awe
when we got up to Mt. Rushmore.
It makes the whole trip worth the effort.

Happy Birthday, Momma...!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for be Nice


For as long as I can remember, my mother was always telling me to
"be nice."
Was I so horrible, that I had to be frequently reminded
just to be social?

Through grade school,
high school,
college...
she'd include a little note at the bottom of the
letter, check, note, bill...
"Be Nice"

I can remember graduating from college and joining
the work force.  I'd come home and complain about
something or someone, and Momma would help me
talk it through, and then end with "and remember to be nice."

Even when I went to medical school,
and through residency, she'd still remind me to
"be nice."

I do have one of those personalities
that makes it seem as though I am not the friendliest person,
so a gentle reminder now and then to smile and say thank you
or please probably was needed...

Even when she's gone I'll hear that small reminder as I 
start something new, or meet a new group of people
"be nice."





Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Motorhome

we're on one and wifi connections are scarce, tonight we're in a campground that give you 20 minutes of free wifi... Wth!?! Promise to post more when able...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for fLexibility

We've been living in an RV for the past week during our annual Momma's Birthday Roadtrip.  Arriving in Colorado, no place to stay and may need to make travel adjustments due to weather.  So parked at the nicest Walmart we've probably ever been to, here in Loveland, CO... Will hopefully be able to get back to real blogging tomorrow...!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Ka

nounEgyptian Religion.a spiritual entity, an aspect of the individual,
believed to live within the body during life
and to survive it after death.


For those that have read my blog previously,
you know that my mother and I have discussions about things
that most people are uncomfortable with...
like living wills and death.

Recently we talked about what she was going to come back as,
just so she could let me know she was doing ok.
"Maybe a hummingbird or a dragonfly."
She told me she was just going to "pinch your toes."

I told her I didn't want to freak out, I just needed some reassurance
that's she's made it to Heaven and everything is good.
She said pinching my toes would definitely send a message.

I'm still trying to convince her to come through as
something less threatening, but
Momma does like to do things her way...

And, I know her spirit will definitely carry on long after she's gone.





Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Jaded


For as long as I can remember, my mother always told me that
"men are selfish"
"men only want one thing"
"you can't trust men"
and many other statements to that effect.

I always thought it was so I wouldn't end up 15 and pregnant.
But, then I learned more of her story as I got older.

You see, my mother didn't marry until she was late in her 20's.
Her father died when she was about to graduate from high school,
so she put aside her dreams of college to go to work and
support two younger brothers and a sister.

She saw her two younger brothers start college 
and younger sister finish high school.
At some point she met my father, and in
August of 1966, she got married.

This is their wedding photo.
I've only seen it about 5 times in all my life
because she's kept it hidden in her things, 
and very rarely does it come out.
I snagged a photo in December of last year.

Anyway, I was born in July of 1967 and 
by somewhere in August of 1968 she was divorced.
She often told me that my father expected her to work,
but also to take care of him.
Then he brought his brother to live with them and
by her report, he did nothing but lay around the house.
Supposedly my father drank and went out with his friends,
and my mother was left to "clean up the mess."
So she kicked him, and his brother, out.
Unbeknownst to him, she had him sign a post-nup so
she kept the house which she had bought
and full custody of me.

I later heard rumors that he was actually married
with another family living in Mexico, but I still
don't really know that whole part of the story.
I just recently learned how she met him,
but I'm saving that for another blog post.

She never remarried.
According to my grandmother, lots of family friends
pursued my mom, even with me in tow,
but she said no to all of them.

I've never asked her why...
but, I guessed from her attitude toward men
that she shared with me
she just couldn't trust anyone else ever again.

Monday, April 11, 2016

I is for Impatience


We're on the road traveling, and I can't control my impatience.
I want to get to where we're going.
I want to achieve my bucket list.
I want, I want, I want...

At times, I just want to be left alone,
and have no one ask me for anything.

But, I'm not, and I can't.
I'm traveling with my husband, mother, and 2 dogs.
And, I know it might be the last trip for my mother,
and I think that just makes everything worse.

I've been living that reality for almost a year,
thinking about when it will really be for the last time.

She's physically weaker.
She's tired more and sleeps a lot of the time.
She gets nauseated, or coughs a lot,
and I begin to wonder...

Is this too much for her?
Is she going to make it to the next stop?
Why do I get so frustrated when she can't do something simple like walk,
or go up a flight of stairs?

I'm wearing my emotions on my sleeves.
I cry at the littlest thing.
I get frustrated with my husband, who patiently
tells me to "relax, you're on vacation."

But, it's much more than that.
It's a million little things I want to make sure I enjoy
and experience with my mom, 
so I can remember the good times when she's gone.

If only my impatience doesn't ruin a good time.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for Home


This is the home where my mother has lived 
the last 45+ years of her life.


And this is my home where my mother lives now with me...
It was a hard decision having her come stay with us,
but after she had fallen 3 times in 2 weeks we knew it was time.

She fought us.
She didn't want to lose her independence.
She didn't know what was going to happen to her mail,
her bills, who was going to take care of....?

I had decorated her room previously with all her favorite colors.
Since she's moved in, she's changed the curtains,
the linens, we've hung her favorite painting which
she brought from her old house, and we've added
small details to her room to make it her own.

Now she loves to sit in her chair and watch the
daily ins and outs of the chickens and geese.
She marvels at the new goslings, and tells me the latest in 
which rooster is fighting which other rooster for which hens.

She's made it her home...
For how long, we're still not sure,
but she still here.


Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Gambling

Especially the slots... Which Momma loves to do, and I mentioned in the letter D post...

We're over-nighting in Reno at the start of a two week road trip, and there's no wi -fi reception where we stopped for the night...

Hopefully back to blogging for reals tomorrow...

Thanks for all the kind words regarding Momma... She's a trooper and handling things seemingly well.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Frantic


**A little frantic right now as we prepare for a
two week trip...

Just sat down to blog, and I haven't even packed
my toiletries or electronics which
I will take on the road with me...

See you tomorrow for the letter G!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for Europe


In 1993, Momma and I took a trip to Europe.
It was her first time, my second.
We bought EuroRail passes and went from Rome to Madrid
then down to Gibraltar and Malaga.

Here she is in Spain.
I think it's one of my favorite pictures of her on the trip.
Her conservative nature was sorely tested on our first trip to the beach.
She just didn't know where to look.
She asked how they could just "run around like that."
I explained that women often went topless in Europe at the beach,
and men didn't wear swim trunks like in the States.
They wore swim briefs.

Poor, Momma.
She learned a lot about different cultures on that trip.
But then, she was the one who always told me that it was
important to travel because 
"to truly understand people
you have to know where they come from, and
you should travel to see that not everyone does things the same way
so that you don't go around thinking your way is the only way.'







Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for Diamond Girl


April's Birthstone is a diamond,
and my mother is a diamond girl.

Not only does she love diamonds,
but she's probably the luckiest person I know.

I keep telling her that it's no fun going gambling with her
because she always wins...


I leave her at a slot machine, come back,
and she hands me a ticket...


Seriously, every time...
Small casino, big casino, Indian casino...


I'm surprised she didn't pull out a loupe...




Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Cruise

Back in May of last year, I wrote about my mother's illness and how my only hope was that she would make it to a planned cruise in September.  She did...


We traveled from our home in Northern California to Portland
where we caught a train...


Which took us to Vancouver, BC where we caught our boat...



Momma checking out the view of Canada Place
from her cabin balcony...

And some of the other things she saw...





She did make it off the boat a couple of times...



We had a lot of fun...

And then got off the boat to get on a bus for an inland adventure...


We saw Denali


She wasn't crazy about her seatmate...


But she enjoyed the travel...


And she checked off one of her bucket list items...
Which I am happy she lived to do...
She's got a few more, including some we'll be
hitting this month, so stick around...
She's not done yet...!