Tag Archives: familia

Sharing more than I should, maybe

Sharing more than I should, maybe

There are certain moments in life when one has to learn to shut up. For the last several months I’ve been doing a lot of silent thinking and holding the pause button on my public expressions of emotions for one very complicated and difficult reason.

My father is battling cancer and I don’t know what to do about it.

Nothing that I can say can take away his pain. Nothing that I can do can miraculously take away this disease from his body. And because of that I find myself struggling constantly, on a day-to-day basis. There are days where I just don’t want to get out of bed. There are days when I feel like a child, confused and unable to find my bearings in everyday life. Days when I’m just angry and bitter.

I share this not to make my father’s situation about me, mostly to just be honest with myself. My therapy has always been writing, but here lately I haven’t had the words to say much of anything.

My father’s ongoing battle with cancer has forced me to put life into perspective. It doesn’t matter how much I make from my business and passion; it doesn’t matter how many brands I’ve collaborated with or not; it doesn’t matter how small or large my community is at any given moment. All that matters is that life is about choices. No matter how much time we might think we might have, it’s never enough.

Cristela Alonzo the comedian put it best in her latest standup routine for Netflix. She basically said “no matter how grown up you think you are you never feel more like a child than when you realize your parents are not going to be around forever.” I wasn’t ready to deal with that.

I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment.

At any given moment everything can change.

Don’t wait for tomorrow. Tell the people you love how much you love them today.

And if you’d be willing to say a prayer or two for my father, I’d appreciate that more than you know. Gracias.

Familia for Fourth of July 

Let’s call this an almost Wordless Wednesday because, of course, I’m still typing. No pues este fin de semana festivo we spent it celebrating my youngest niece’s first birthday. 

It was extra special because con todo lo que ha estado pasando lately it was a much needed breath of fresh air. Just familia, spending time together. It was great! 

 

Kids say the darnedest things!

My niece said something this weekend that made me laugh.

Then it made me think.

And now, it’s making me contemplate life.

She’s under five years old and we were flying a kite together this weekend.

She was a natural at it, but that wasn’t really the big surprise.

When we were getting ready to go back inside to eat my mother’s pozole I offered to help her put up the kite since the string holding it had been unwound a good couple of feet. She refused and proceeded to tell me how she didn’t need help because she could do it all by herself.

In that very moment it was as if my sister (her mother) was talking to me herself.

It was uncanny.

I chuckled at first in surprise, and then thought to myself, yeah that’s really her baby!

It’s funny how the most unexpected characteristics are seemingly hereditary as well.

This is one memory I think is going to stick.

Lessons from my brother

The word is pride. It’s taken quite some time to arrive at this singular expression of emoción, but after careful (very careful if you know me well) thought and consideration, that is really the most appropriate palabra to describe what this picture evokes in me. My nephew took it this weekend on a whim, while we were sitting around my mother’s table just laughing and talking. It’s my younger brother. The baby boy of the familia.

We always used to joke when he was younger that one day my parents’ property in Mexico would be his because he is the youngest male in the family. That is the tradition where my parents are from you see. I don’t know that any of us were ever serious about it, but it was just one of those things that we as American born children of Mexican parents really didn’t understand. Sure, it was an actual tradition. We just didn’t know how practical it was for our situation?

I mean we were living in apartments here, paying mortgages eventually, and really creating opportunities for ourselves here. What could any of us really do with a property in Mexico? And if it was something my parents would want to leave us, would they really want to follow what seemed like an ancient tradition to us? We didn’t know… and we probably still don’t today. But that’s neither here nor there.

What makes me feel proud about this picture is the story behind it.

A few months ago he moved away to a completely different city. He left behind friends, family, and really quite a comfortable life. Explaining to my mother at one point that his moving to another state was akin to her moving to another country at an even younger age many, many years ago. She did it then to create an opportunity for all of her children. He now was doing it for himself.

As we waved goodbye this weekend I couldn’t help but remember the letter my brother wrote and read to my mother on Christmas Eve this year. It was encased in a picture frame with the watermark of an old picture of all of us together. For her to keep and reference as often as she would like. The letter was an expression of gratitude from a son who now through his own experiences is understanding what it means to leave it all behind and start over. It was really quite an emotional and heartfelt moment. I think a lot of us cried a little bit.

And that’s what I see when I look at this picture. A picture of all of us. Growing. Changing. Realizing. Understanding. And appreciating the things that truly matter in life. Life. Love. Health. Each other. Experience. And the wisdom to just embrace the moments life gives us. Not to try to change them or create them as we think they should be. But to simply accept them as part of our journey together.

Lessons from my brother

It’s Never Goodbye: It’s ¡Hasta Pronto!

It's Never Goodbye It's Hasta Luego
I think it was around this birthday when I started having to do mental math to calculate my age.

There never seems to be enough time in the day.  Or night for that matter.  Every night after my body plummets onto the bed (and I do mean plummet literally in every sense of the word) I find myself thinking about the things that weren’t done today, that still have to be done tomorrow, that should be done at some point, and inevitably, the ones that were completely forgotten about until now.  It seems the latter are increasingly higher in number and frequency.  Maybe that’s due to old age.

Y sí, antes de que me maten con esa mirada…  I do also realize I’m only 34.  And for the most part 34 sounds and still feels pretty young.  Solo que the other day someone asked me if I would consider myself to be a Millennial.  The question was innocent enough and for the conversation we were having at the time it was very appropriate.  Still for a moment, before an answer could be mustered up in my mind and spoken out loud (for a split second), I had to seriously consider whether I was young enough to still fall under this age grouping.  You see, ever since my birthday two years ago, when people ask for my age there’s usually some hesitation involved, followed by my eyes rolling back into my head as I stare into the sky trying to mentally subtract whatever the current year is from 1979.  That’s the year I was born.

Eventually the number will come to me and again I am reminded como quién dice that I’m no spring chicken anymore.

That’s kind of a harsh reality to accept.  Even if elders are seen as wiser and meant to be respected in my culture… I don’t want to be one of them yet!  ¡Todavía tengo llantas que quemar!  That phrase may not make a lot of sense considering I just thought about it right now, and that it can easily be misconstrued to mean the other kind of tires around one’s waist also.  I have those too by the way.

What made me get all existential and stuff was the fact that my sister was in town for about a week recently, and that before we knew it the week was over and it was time to say our hasta prontos again.  You never do get used to saying goodbye to the people you love do you?  Sure, you get more accustomed to the idea of being miles apart, but there’s always a little sadness in knowing there might be months in between your next abrazo.  I’m kind of a sap and a few times hasta me he venido a la casa chillando like a big old baby singing sad country songs out loud on the freeway.

It’s my way of coping you could say.

Ever since I was kid, when it was time to leave my family behind in Mexico at the end of the summers, I would always choke up and tear up a little bit in the back of our truck, where no one could see me of course.  I knew we’d see each other again next year, but that next summer just wouldn’t ever come fast enough.

They aren’t only summers anymore, and time really does fly by.  Only not in the sense that it will stop when we want it to.  In the wisdom of my barely-a-Millenial-still-wisdom, el tiempo no perdona. 

However, the memories we make together can last us a lifetime.

I’m holding on to mine for as long as humanly possible!

Because No Matter The Time And Distance Family Is Family

Because No Matter The Time And Distance Family Is Family
My dad and brother at RodeoHouston for Go Tejano Day.

My younger brother and I have always been close.  For a while in our teen years people actually thought we were the same person.  We talked the same, and had the same voice.  At least that’s what people would say.  We dressed alike.  And as my elder sisters will tell you, we even used to get the same haircuts.  One year we shaved all of our hair off except for our front bangs, which we then proceeded to burn into a sunny red with hydrogen peroxide.  Don’t ask me why, we just did.  We thought we were cool.

In high school, when I didn’t want to go to class I’d make my brother ride with me to Burger King in the mornings to order a croissantwich… or two.  That is until he protested that he actually did want to go to class and learn.  I stopped forcing him after that, y por eso estabamos como estabamos.  

When he decided to lose weight, and started to actually do it, he was the motivation I needed to get off my butt and exercise also.  We lost 100 pounds each in one year!  And then we slowly gained some, or most of it back (for some of us).  Though that was before we decided to take a trip together to Cozumel in our early adult years.  That was one of the best decisions we ever made because it’s one of the trips I will always hold very near and dear to my heart.  ¡Nos la pasamos a toda madre! 

In good times, and in the bad ones too, my younger brother has always been there for me.  He’s made me laugh.  He’s given me advice.  He’s even scolded me a couple of times.  Which in case you’re wondering, is not very pleasant at all considering he’s not the type of person to get angry very easily or very often.  For whatever reason nos entendemos. 

Tomorrow is his birthday.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the occasion than by taking a little stroll down memory lane.

Because No Matter The Time And Distance Family Is Family
At the Bali Hai apartments for a birthday party.
Because No Matter The Time And Distance Family Is Family
One of his birthdays over the years.
Because No Matter The Time And Distance Family Is Family
Being silly en familia.
Because No Matter The Time And Distance Family Is Family
We took a trip together in our early adult years and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. So many great memories!
Because No Matter The Time And Distance Family Is Family
One of my all time favorite pictures.

Funny Random Moments You Probably Might Find Entertaining

Funny Random Moments You Probably Might Find Entertaining

I’ve been busy lately.  My sister and my niece are in town and that’s very exciting.  We’re having a party soon, and well tambiên me ha pegado la hueva a little bit.  But I do want to share some funny moments we’ve had recently that I may or may not blog about again in a later post.  I hope they put a smile on your face too.

Singing Rancheras for the Soul
We’re riding around in the car.  I’m singing one of the rancheras on the radio, cause you know that’s what I listen to most of the time to and from work.  I like the Raúl Brindis y Pepito show and listen to it religiously every morning.  Until recently, I used to listen to Piolin too, pero bueno we all know what happened there.  Sad really.  I especially like the farandula news and in between those segments you eventually start picking up a lot of the lyrics to the songs too.  I have!  What I didn’t realize was that Edgar was doing so too.  All of a sudden I hear him singing the same song in the back seat of the car también.  I don’t say anything, so as to not make him aware, and just smile to myself.

The Fake British Accent 
A couple of weeks ago, this very nice reporter from BBC America and I had agreed to meet at one of the park’s here in the barrio on a Sunday morning.  He had emailed me before coming to Houston and he wanted to talk about the future of Latino culture in the United States, according to me.  I should forewarn you that I don’t know exactly what I blurted out once had had a microphone in front of me…  At least I hope his trip wasn’t a complete waste of time.  Anyway.  The funny thing is, that morning, Edgar decided to come with me, and while I sat down for the interview we had agreed he was going to go play where I could keep an eye on him.  Only that was before we got out of the car and introduced ourselves to the reporter and his companion.  He immediately went towards Edgar and shook his hand, greeting him with a very British accent.  To which Edgar, to everyone’s surprise, especially mine, greeted him back with his own version of a British accent.

None of us could do anything other than laugh.  Afterwards, he and I couldn’t stop laughing at how embarrassing the moment had been and to this day he is still completely in shock at his gut reaction.  I guess our television viewing habits didn’t help him any either.  We’ve been watching Keeping Up Appearances religiously for months now.

Church School for Edgar
Yesterday, Edgar and I again were talking.  It was a very brief conversation this time.  He was asking about one of my conversations that he had overheard.  To throw him off I reminded him that we still need to register him for his first communion classes, to which he replied that he didn’t want to sign up for Catechism classes in Spanish because he doesn’t fully understand the language.  My conversation with the BBC America reporter immediately flooded back.  ¡Ay Dios mio!  Good thing I did make the clarification that we are not the most traditional parents when it comes to bilingualism.  And by the way, that does mean Catechism classes will be in Spanish for Edgar.

The generational differences in Latino families are funny

The generational differences in Latino families are funny
Loaded for vacation by Hans Hansson.

So the other day my sister, her husband and her kids were getting ready to go out of town.  They had packed, loaded up the truck, and we were all just sitting around talking and laughing while they finished getting ready to leave.

My sister has two teenagers, one preteen, and the baby of their family who just recently hit double digits in her birthday celebrations.  They are a loud and rambunctious bunch that I just adore.  And there we were, when all of the sudden my brother in law came out of the room, having just changed from shorts and chanclas to blue jeans, a collared shirt, sneakers, and a cap.

The following conversation ensued and I just couldn’t help but giggling inside (like a school girl):

My eldest niece:  Why is daddy all dressed up?

My youngest nephew:  I don’t know… mommy was putting makeup on earlier?

It was past midnight when all of this conversation took place.

My eldest niece:  What the heck?  Mom was putting on makeup?  “Ma!  Why were you putting on makeup?  Where are we going, to a gala or something?”

My eldest nephew:  I don’t know they’re weird.

Then all four of them, plus Edgar, busted out in laughter.

Two things struck me right then.  One, the generational differences between our generation and theirs are so apparent that they even show up in the minutest of situations, like how we get ready to go out of town.  My nieces and nephews would have been perfectly comfortable traveling in their pajamas!  We, the adults, don’t do that of course!   Not normally anyway.  There’s a sense of personal pride in putting your best foot forward by trying to look presentable in every situation.  ¿Apoco no? 

And two, that we are all old enough to not fully understand what it really means to “just be chilling.”

Pero you know what?  I think I’m okay with that.