Category Archives: Love

Ripples

As the days go by and my birthday approaches, I can’t help but think of what my life has been. The ripples my almost six decades on this earth have produced. I find it hard to believe I have been alive this long. And yet it seems like such a short time has passed. I don’t feel it. If I don’t feel old does that mean I’m not?

Some days I do feel ancient, but it only means I need more rest, more sleep. Like today, I feel very sloth-like. But, I was up till 3 am. Just wasn’t sleepy, I busied myself with my crochet project. One of them anyway. And today it’s done; that blue and white blanket will soon be making its way to California, to cause another ripple in the fabric of time. My time. And the time of my loved ones.

I have much to be thankful for in this life, many blessings. My children and now my granddaughters. Ripples that extend way into the future. The future that one day will not include me. And yet it will, because I will live on in them.

My lovely Carmen

My lovely Carmen

And my beautiful Alyssa

And my beautiful Alyssa

Needing a Fix

While in the midst of bonding with my new granddaughter, I find myself going through withdrawals.  It is a painful process, I assure you. The frustration builds day by day, the raw need claws at you with a razor-sharp edge. You don’t realize how much you depend on something until it is no longer there. Or, as in my case, intermittently there.

As a writer, I have been rightly spoiled. By my high-speed internet access. I got used to being able to log on anytime, anywhere, anyplace that had Wi-Fi available.  No matter when or where inspiration hit, there was my trusty laptop, drowsing, waiting for me to wake it up.

Or whenever I felt the overwhelming urge to interact with friend and foe alike, there was nothing to stop me. Nothing to prevent me from running off at the mouth, or should I say, at the fingers. Now there are trees, millions of them, surrounding the home I’m in. Green silent sentinels forming a protective barrier, holding me in and my signal out. (I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve decided to blame the trees.)

And then one day, there was the weather. Apparently it got too cold for the satellite. It even sent me a message; it was experiencing weather related problems it said. At least it didn’t leave me in the dark about that, but if my Miami blood can handle the near freezing temperatures, why can’t this man-made piece of metal?

I didn’t know how good I had it. I thought walking the length of my house to plug in was the greatest inconvenience. No, I thought carrying the cord across the house from my bedroom to my office was the greatest inconvenience. Ha! What would I give to have that “problem” now.

The pain is real, I tell you. Especially for this political junkie. How can I keep up with the state of the world if I have to wait 30 minutes for a page to load? Staring at the screen does not help; I know, I’ve tried it. I guess a watched pot doesn’t boil.

It is so bad that I even have time to read, entire chapters, while I wait. And to add insult to injury, I can’t watch clips, can’t run video. If I’m lucky, I can read the text of an article, but streaming, fuggedaboutit. Thank God for YouTube. What I missed will be waiting for me when I get home; I will get my fill, gorge, overdose.

I know I should be happy and appreciative. When I hear the baby cry, my heart twists, I will miss that sound. I will miss seeing her grow up on a daily basis. But, she is surrounded by people who love her dearly, for within the trees are the hidden homes of extended family. I am extremely glad I had these first few weeks with her. She is a joy.

And I am appreciative, but Lord, I do miss my reliable internet. I need to write, I need to research, I need to stay in contact, I need to find a beta reader, or two or three. And by God, I need to gossip!!!

Loving and Living

And so I’m here. Here in this unfamiliar, yet familiar, environment. With my son, his wife and his newborn daughter. I am Grandma once again, or as I am now known “Abuela.” It’s a term I used to shy away from. For years I bragged about not having grandchildren; I would cross my fingers and say, not yet, not yet. Though I had children old enough to be parents, I felt I wasn’t old enough to be a grandparent.

But now I am. Twice over. And strangely, I feel young, and growing younger every day. Could it be seeing new life takes you back in time? Or is it that you feel the need to live longer to provide this new being with the love they need to grow and develop?

I don’t really know as I have no personal frame of reference as to the benefits of grandmothering or even grandfathering. All I ever knew about grandfathering was in relation to a professional process. If the rules changed midstream and you were already in the water swimming, then they didn’t apply to you. You were grandfathered in.

Yes, my parents obviously had parents, but I didn’t get to know them. My mother lost her father when she was seven.  The only other fact I know of him is his name. Her mother died before I was school age. I have only one memory of her. Wizened and stooped, she slowly makes her way down my aunt’s living room, touching the wall as she goes, for she is blind by then.  Her glistening white hair a halo around her head, she seems only as tall as I am. That reel plays in my head at odd moments.

My father lost his mother before I was born; he would go on to name his youngest daughter after her. Knowing my baby sister bore her name made this lost grandmother alive in some recess of my mind. His father turned out to be my only grandparent with longevity. And though he lived to be 97 years old, he never had a minute for me or my siblings. For him, we did not exist.

I think of him sometimes; I see him as I often saw him, walking tall and proud down the street past our house. With nary a glance our way. I want to be like him, have strived to be like him in that way, carrying myself tall and proud. Or as tall as my height will allow me. But, there are two characteristics of him I don’t want, his aloofness and his longevity.

I don’t want to live to be 97 years old. Yet, I want to be here for my granddaughters and perhaps my future grandsons. I want time enough to break the cycle, start a new tradition for my line of the family. A tradition of loving and living grandparents.

I will have to find a happy medium to reach that goal. Perhaps by making every minute count, every caress matter, every word spoken be loving. Or maybe if I solely concentrate on the moment at hand, and how proud and tall I walk when I think of my children and grandchildren. For they are my sustenance. They are and always will be my yesterday, my today and my tomorrow.

Leaving On a Jet Plane

It’s a free, floaty feeling to loosen the ties that bind, even for a little bit. For no matter how lovingly they encircle you, they still keep you in place, grounded.  And though that does provide comfort and a sense of security, I look forward to breaking free, taking a hiatus, leaving the daily grind behind, for just a little while.

What makes this voyage that I’m about to embark on seem even more buoyant is that I literally don’t know when I’ll be back again.  My trip has no expiration date. And that’s OK. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I will think about that tomorrow.

When I’m lifted up into that clear blue yonder, I will be suspended between the bookends of my life here and my life elsewhere. I will be alone, alone surrounded by strangers. All of us traveling inside our own cocoon of solitude, for truly that is how we traverse this life, accompanied yet alone.

I am not so much moving away from one point as I am progressing toward another. I am going to, not going from. I fly to welcome an angel that has landed on this earth. A little soul who is a bridge between the life I live now and the life I tried to live then.

As much as I loved back then, I was unable to give my son, her father, what I most wanted to. A home with his own mother and father.  The love I feel for him is forever framed by the guilt I carry. A guilt that is somewhat assuaged by the fact that though we divorced each other, we did not divorce him. I know both his father and I love him dearly, our firstborn.

Yet now is not the time to dwell on that particular arc of our family history. My son has given me a gift that will take me even further back in time, a granddaughter who carries my mother’s name.  There is no doubt this new baby’s life will be one of privilege my mother could not even begin to imagine. A child sent out into the world at the age of seven to earn her keep would have no reference of what it meant to have a stable, secure life with two loving parents.

But, this Carmen will. And when I finally hold her great-granddaughter in my arms, I know my mother will smile down at me from the heavens I’d just been so close to.

Hugs

The story goes that my sister used to cry on the way home from school because all her friends had a brother or sister except for her. She complained that all she had was Risas, the dog. My father named him that because he wore a perpetual smile as a result of an injury to his mouth.

Rosa had to wait nine long years before she had a living sibling. For during that interval, the tale goes, there was one other child, stillborn, miscarried or died young, I don’t know. But I know there was one. My mother told me.

What she didn’t say was whether it was a boy or a girl. Instinct tells me it must have been a boy. Or, at least, that my mother believed it was a boy. Thus when I appeared healthy and hearty, it must have been salt in the wound.

That is the only explanation I can come up with as to why growing up, I never knew a mother’s hug.

Logic tells me that she did indeed hold me. For one thing, she had to hold me to feed me.  They were not in any position to hire someone to do that job. And that does offer me a sort of comfort. But, as I don’t remember being weaned, I don’t remember being held.

Reading others’ words describing the feel of a mother’s loving arms when they were children fascinates me. I try to imagine and put myself in their place. To feel that warmth. To inhale her smell of fresh-baked bread. To feel the silk that is her hair as she leans her head against theirs. To know that the world can’t harm you while you are safe in her arms. And though I try, I can’t relate.

We were poor, but hugs were free. Yet, I grew up without that essential basic need. That nurturing sensory input.  It’s been a hole in my life that I dared not confront. Best not to look back. But now I realize, I’ve been searching for that safety zone all my life.

***Risas means “laughs” in Spanish.

Touching the Moon

I hold her little hand as we walk the four blocks to the park.  My cat, Tigress, follows us part way until I tell her to go home. Tigress sits on the grass and watches us cross the street.

“Stay home, Tigress,” she admonishes. It’s 6:30 in the evening and the birds are chirping. A whistling symphony seems to be coming from the trees themselves.

“Listen to the birds,” I say.

She looks up and scans the treetops. “The birds,” is all she says in her tiny little voice.

We turn the corner and cross another street.

“Your mommy went to this school,” I tell her, as we walk alongside the Elementary.

“My mommy’s school,” she says.

We reach the park and make our way to the playground. Her eyes light up when she sees the jungle gym. I find myself shadowing her every move. I was never such a mother hen with my own kids.

“Let’s go on the swing.” There I will have her in a confined, safe place.

“The slide?”

“No, the swing. Come, I’ll show you.”

We slog through the sandpit that is the playground and I lift her into a baby swing. She grabs on with a death grip. I get her going and then sit on a regular swing. I stick my legs straight out and lean back as far as I can, so that I’m horizontal as I stare up at the blue sky. I’m amazed at how quickly I feel like a little girl again. We swing until darkness surrounds us.

“Time to go home now.” I reluctantly get off the swing.

“I want to slide.”

“Tomorrow. We’ll come back tomorrow.”

We shake the sand out of our shoes and cross the parking lot on our way to the sidewalk. She points at a burgundy minivan parked close to the park entrance.

“I want a car.”

“What?” I bend toward her not sure I heard right.

“I want a caaaar.”

“You want a car?

“Yes.”

“That’s not our car.” I can’t help laughing.

We walk half a block in silence.

“I want a car.” Her little finger points at a gray sedan in the school parking lot.

I start laughing again. I understand now; she doesn’t want to walk. She wants a ride.

“But, that’s not our car either. Are you tired?”

“No.”

She is walking nimbly, her little hand in mine. But, I will carry her if need be. The moon is a translucent ball straight ahead.

“Look, let’s go touch the moon.”

“Touch the moon?”

“Yes, we’ll touch the moon.”

She concentrates on the moon as we walk again in silence. Rounding the school we pass a black F-150.

“I want a car.” Her tiny finger points toward the truck.

This time I don’t answer. I can’t. I’m laughing too hard. She thinks you can just take any vehicle if you don’t want to walk anymore.

I’m about to pick her up when she looks around concerned.

“Hey, where’d the moon go?”

“It’s right over there.” I point to our left. Her little face relaxes and she settles back into an easy stride. Someone is walking toward us and she becomes absorbed with the woman and her dog.

We turn the corner to our street and as we walk toward my house we pass by three cars parked near the sidewalk. Each time we near one, her little finger points and she makes her demand again. I haven’t laughed this much in years.

Finally we reach my driveway and she marches straight to my car. “I want a car,” she states.

I unlock it and open the back door. She climbs in and settles herself behind the passenger seat.

“Get in the car,” she says, pointing to the driver’s seat.

“But, we’re home now. It’s time for your bubble bath.”

She shakes her head and pulls the seat belt around her. Her face is resolute; I’m to get in the car. I only meant to let her sit in the car for a moment, to satisfy her want; I hadn’t expected that she would order me in as well.

I have no car seat so a drive around the block is not an option. Besides, I’m too much of a worrywart to chance these crazy roads with my precious grandchild. I have to come up with something much more attractive than a car ride.

My car is parked near the front door on our circular drive. I unlock it and turn around to find her still struggling to buckle the seat belt. I know she is as hot and sweaty as I am.

“Hey, let’s go inside and have some juice.”

Her head snaps up. “OK,” she says.

On the Good Ship Chocolate

I find myself needing to turn to comfort food. You know those times when life leaves you feeling drifting, listing. Times when life’s guardrail is seemingly floating too far from your grasp. In those moments, you instinctively reach for what’s near, for what can stay you and satisfy you, at least temporarily.

And what can satisfy that well within you? What can fill the void better than food?

Of all the foods that I might crave, I am instinctively drawn to the one that both fills and fulfills. Chocolate. For what else can send those sensory impulses of purest pleasure to the brain quicker than chocolate?

I don’t recall the very first time I had chocolate, but I do remember the first time I introduced my first-born to an Oreo cookie. I have the photograph of his chocolate grin stretched from ear to ear, but I don’t really need it. That bonding moment is ingrained in my brain.

When I was young, my mother would make hot chocolate for my father using the hard, dry sheets of chocolate they frequently purchased. After heating a small pan of water, she would break off and add several squares, stirring as they melted. I was never tempted to drink it, but I would sneak into the fridge and break off a little piece when she wasn’t looking. The bitterness turned sweet as it melted in my mouth.

My childhood memories include running to the neighborhood store to buy a chocolate bar whenever I had a few pennies in my pocket. After passing the time with friends, I would head back home to curl up on my single bed with my book of the moment, to savor both the story and the chocolate. The candy somehow seemed to enhance my reading experience.

Eating chocolate has always been a soothing experience. A treat that never disappoints or fails to live up to its expectations. Unless, it is the wish that it last longer. In my quest to control my illness with diet as much as possible, I have jokingly referred to chocolate as my “medicine.”

Apparently, my thinking wasn’t entirely facetious. I’ve been reading how researchers are discovering that dark chocolate may have many beneficial properties. They state it can help protect your skin, quiet coughs and may even increase blood flow to the brain making you more awake and alert. So it could be I was right; the story did become more interesting to read while eating that chocolate bar.

But, what makes chocolate worth its weight in gold to me is that it enhances my mood. How can I feel bad while eating chocolate? For that little sliver of time, my ship is righted. I can hold fast and let my stresses dissolve along with the velvety stuff in my mouth. The only thing better than eating chocolate is eating it with someone you love.

Needless Feelings?

They say writing is a lonely business and I suppose perforce it is. The same could be said about reading. It is you, the book and your thoughts, and what you read often makes you wonder, takes you in different directions all at once. Recently, I read that you must write with the door shut and re-write with the door open, (On Writing by Stephen King). I take it he means it literally, but I also see it figuratively.

When you write, you go into your own little world and create what you see and what you hear. You imagine all sorts of things, things that may or may not be real. For that moment, they are all too real for you.

But when you re-write, you are forced to stand back and take an objective view of what you have subjectively spilt onto the page. You must stand back and take a scalpel to unnecessary words, get those paragraphs into shape, make what you write sound plausible. More plausible than life itself.

I truly believe that works with writing, but does it work with writers too? As tough as self-editing can be, it’s much easier to chuck needless words than it is to chuck needless feelings. Can you be ruthless and excise your worries with nary a backward thought? Can it ever be as simple as hitting delete?

I find myself faced with that dilemma. My child has joined the homeless. Couch surfing she calls it. Armed with a fresh-from-the-press journalism degree, she is looking for her niche. A job she has, but not in her field and not one that will pay all the bills.

She agonized for weeks over her decision, stay or go. I wanted her to come home and she made arrangements to do so, but only as a fallback. In the end, she proved too reasonable, too logical, too goal-oriented. Coming home meant straying too far from her target, a job in The Big Apple.

I realize that her staying in the area makes more sense than coming back all the way across the country. But when the door shuts on logic, I still see her as my little girl and imagine all sorts of things, both real and unreal. And it fills me with dread.

I know I must force open the door to reason and see her as she is, a woman grown. One that fills me with pride and admiration knowing she has the drive and the determination to not give up her dream, to work and strive for it, and maybe even go hungry for it.

Her not going hungry is the one thing I have control over and I won’t allow that to happen, as I am thrust into this new adventure with her. Deep in the night, the door will slam shut on me and I will be surrounded with fearful scenarios that rob me of my sleep. But I know that in the morning, I will make myself kick it open wide. Both for her and for me.

For we all know that stress is an opportunist and I refuse to open my door to it. It is not welcome and I will unhesitatingly perform a daily stress-ectomy while I chill and give my Wandering Waldo time.

In the meantime, I will write myself a note: Couch surfing ain’t so bad.