Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Crybaby Me.


The Mama used to tell me a story about the time that the Daddy carried me on his back while they picked tomatoes one summer day. I was maybe two years old. "You cried and cried," the Mama said. "You kept saying, 'Go home, Daddy. Go home.'"

The poor Daddy! And, all those other poor workers around us who were forced to listen to a tiny, fat crybaby of a girl piggy-backing on her poor Daddy's back. The poor Daddy!

How did the Parents ever get me to stop crying? Did the Daddy take the Mama and me home and go back to work? Did I eventually calm down, get off the Daddy's back, and find a way to entertain myself so the Parents could work in peace? I don't know. The Mama never told me what happened. She simply laughed after telling me.

Why am I telling you the story? I don't know. I find myself tearful all of a sudden lately.

C is for crybaby me. Not pitiful me though.

C is the letter for this week's ABC Wednesday, a weekly meme that is keeping me centered. I thank the ABCW team, lead by Roger Green, and started by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt, for giving me a place to share my words. To keep me going. Maybe next week, I'll be more cheerful.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

An Adventure, Nevertheless


We are on a new adventure—the Mama, Molly the Cat, the Husband, and I.

The Mama's body is failing. Thank goodness, her spirit is not.

She's stubborn. That's a positive.

Yesterday afternoon, she faced reality. She fell! "You need to use the walker," I exclaimed.

"No! The dead people used it," she said, referring to the walker gathering dust in the garage. She used it once upon a time when she was healing from a broken hip. Somewhere along the line she let a friend borrowed it, which his wife returned after he died.

"We will get you another one," I said. It was 5 o'clock in the afternoon. Fortunately, for us, we found a bare-basic walker, without the sparkles and whistles, at the pharmacy.

Thankfully for us,  the Mama allowed herself to use the walker. I loved that at one point, as she slowly made her way down the hallway, she stamped her feet and scolded her legs for not working with her.

Last night, Molly the Cat gave the Mama an extra dosage of purrrrrrrrr while she laid on the couch in the living room. Molly first kneaded the Mama's blanket, then snuggled beside the Mama's legs. Sweet, Molly the Cat.

It seems that Molly's and the Mama's appetite are in sync. Mama eats a little bit, Molly eats a little bit. The Mama eats a good bit of her food, Molly eats her food. When Molly doesn't eat her meal, the Mama urges her to "Eat, eat, eat." I would love it if Molly could say, "You first, Madame."

As I'm writing, I can hear the Mama washing her breakfast dishes. (It was a good day for breakfast for the Mama and Molly.) My first thought when I heard the clang of dishes was to stop her and wash them for her. No. It's routine. It's normalcy. It's independence. For her. And for us.

Today, when the Mama is watching her game shows, the Husband and I will rearrange the furniture in her room so that she can move about fairly easy with her walker. She'll strike back at that change of reality. That's good.

I have begun to cry. I do my best not to do it in front of her. So far, so good.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

In the Pink

The Mama flanked by the Cousins!

Indeed, yes. The Mama, the Husband, and I are in good spirits today. I think Molly the Cat may be, too. She got to eat roast chicken for lunch.

The Mama is so in the pink that she did not complain about going to the doctor's this afternoon to get her shot for her anemia. Yaay!

We had an impromptu visit from the Cousins on the Mama's side of the family. We don't see them often, but when we do, it's loads of happy conversation and laughter over a meal. That, I think, was the best medicine for the Mama today.




It's the letter I on ABC Wednesday, a fun weekly meme started by Denise Nesbitt several years ago, and continued onward by Roger Green and the ABCW team. Check out the other participants, and maybe join in yourself, by clicking here.

I'm also sharing at Warm Heart Wednesday, a meme hosted by Jenny Matlock at Off on my Tangent. Click here to visit.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Eden Hills' Friday Hunt v1.3

The Friday's Hunt, a photo meme hosted by Teresa of Eden Hills, is a lot fun.  She gives you three items to photograph each week, and you can choose to do one, two, or three of them.  I had a photo last week that would've been perfect for all three items this week. Oh well.

Starts with C


I've decided to use my archives for the alphabet item. I took the photo of this cow in November 2014 during a hike with the Husband. Moooooooo.


Week's Favorite


The Only and Older Brother surprised us with a visit on Sunday. He brought BBQ for lunch, so I'll excuse him for not waving to the camera. I did get him to smile. Just as good. (Yes, that's a smile.)


Inside


One of my goals this year is to reduce the clutter in the house. Everywhere. Everything. So far I've accomplished sorting and organizing the business cards and library cards that I like to collect. Baby steps, but at least they are forward steps.  We're supposed to have rain over the next several days. You know what that means.


Okey-dokey. You can link up until Sunday evening, if you'd like to participate in the hunt. For more details or to check out the other participants, click here.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Watching TV with the Daddy


Yesterday, Georgy, of Jubilee Street and Remember Freedom, wrote a post on her former blog that sparked a memory bubble. (Thanks, Georgy.) That's watching "Bonanza" with the Daddy on Sunday evenings. It came on after "The Wonderful World of Disney." I can't recall if the Daddy watched that with me. If he did, that was nice of him to let me watch it.

We watched TV nearly every evening together in our favorite spots. The Daddy sat on his recliner while I laid on the floor with my legs on the couch.  I had a good excuse for being near the TV. I was the Daddy's channel changer and fixer of the horizontal line on the TV screen.

P.S. I'm linking up with Art Every Day Month Day at Creative Every Day.

P.P.S. Monica, hostess of the NatureFootstep Digital Art Meme, invited me to link up. So, I shall.  Thanks, Monica.



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cheers!

Is it coincidence that there are dates in both the Husband's and my family that are common? Or, is it synchronicity? I prefer thinking it's the latter. I also prefer not figuring out how it's so.

That said, November 15, for example,  is special for both the Husband and me.

November 15 is the Husband's Dad's birthday. Jim would've been 97 years old today. Happy Birthday, Jim!



November 15 is the Mama's and the Daddy's wedding anniversary. They would've celebrated 68 years together. Happy Anniversary to the Mama and the Daddy!





Friday, August 28, 2015

Ninang Pat's Hollyhock


Pretty pink hollyhock, isn't it? It's part of the second growth from Ninang Pat's hollyhocks. She cut the plants back last month. She was surprised to see more grow. Ninang Pat gave me some seeds for red hollyhocks. Hopefully, they'll grow for us.

Ninang is the Ilocano word for Godmother.

When I was baptized as a baby a long time ago, I had the good fortune of having six godparents—three ninangs and three ninongs (godfathers)—formally sponsor me. Informally, I had twelve godparents because the spouse of each godparent is also considered a godparent. But, actually, I had 9 or 10 godparents, because one or two of the ninongs were bachelors. Have I told you this before?

With all those godparents, I was not spoiled with lots of gifts, although one bachelor ninong was very generous with candy when he came  to visit. Ah, the fattening of Susie.

Ninang Pat is the last of my godparents. She married Ninong Pablo when I was three. For the longest time, I was confused as to what to call her. Sometimes I called her Auntie Pat. Other times, I called her Ninang when the Mama reminded me.

I'm no longer confused. It's great to still have a ninang, especially Ninang Pat. It's another thing that tricks me into thinking I'm not that old. Yet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Good. The Random. The Fun.

Hello. I'm participating in a new weekly meme today.


The Good. The Random. The Fun.  It's a Monday meme hosted by Random-osity. You blog about a good, random, and fun thing that happened in the past week. Yes, I know today is Tuesday. What can I say.

THE GOOD 


My high school graduating class—San Benito High School (aka Hollister High School) Class of 1971—established a scholarship about nine years ago. We have the distinction of being the only alumni class at the local high school to sponsor a scholarship, thanks to Rudy, Debbie, and Debbie who had the vision, heart, and diligence to make it happen. In the last eight years, we've given $14,000 in scholarships to 10 Baler graduates. (Baler, or Haybaler, is the high school mascot.) Whooo-hooo!

On Saturday we held our annual Class of 1971 Scholarship fundraiser in town. It was another successful luncheon, silent auction, and raffle. Each year, we get a bigger turnout with newer faces showing up. It felt great seeing old and new friends. I like to think that everyone had a wonderful time.

THE RANDOM


The sun's light reflecting on trees as it was saying good-night.

THE FUN
 

"You have a different idea," said the Mama.

"About what?" I asked.

"My birthday."

This year for the Mama's birthday, the Husband, Molly the Cat, and I decided to give the Mama a present a day. Sometimes the gift is funny (a package of gum), pretty (a bracelet), or useful (boxes of tissue). It may be food, a handcrafted item, a photo, a piece of clothing, and whatever I think floats the Mama's boat.  The Husband and Molly the Cat have given me carte blanche, within reason, to purchase or make the presents.  And, that's a lot of fun for me.

Each morning at breakfast the Mama opens her present, looks at it, and then rewraps it. She says that she will unwrap them again on her actual birthday. I love the Mama.

Head over to Random-osity's blog, to check out other posts about The Good. The Random. The Fun. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday in the Backyard


The Mama was playing in the mud this morning. Her favorite thing to do. Okay, she was replanting  Filipino onions, which she does every several weeks.

The Mama likes to say, "You cannot fool me." And that's what I say. The Mama cannot fool me. She's playing in the mud and she's having lots of fun out there. Yup, she's still out there as I'm writing this post.


While the Mama was playing with her onions, Molly the Cat did her rounds of the backyard. She was late this morning. She sat on the chair, which was once the Mama's favorite chair, for the longest time after breakfast. The Mama asked her, "Are you sick, Molly?  Do you have a headache?"

The Mama opened the back door and Molly the Cat jumped off the chair in no time. "Don't go far," said the Mama.

I think Molly wanted her photo taken because she kept close to me while I was clicking away by the lemon tree. But, would she look prettily at the camera? Of course, not.  "Find a candid shot, Lady," said Molly.


So, what's new in the Mama's garden today?

Three of the four marunggay seeds have sprouted. The seeds were from the Philippines, which came from a friend of the Mama's, who got them from a cousin. Marunggay is a huge tree with yummy leaves to eat. Health buffs are now touting the marunggay as a wonder food to eat.

The tomatoes are growing on what the Mama likes to call the "tomato tree" because the plant is about 4 feet tall or more.  Lemons are abundant. And, some of the apple blossoms that popped out a month ago actually has become fruit.


It was full house in the backyard this morning.  The Husband even went out to throw garbage. Yup. It was a good Sunday morning in the backyard.



Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Sunday Picnics at the Beach


Going to the beach was always an all-of-a-sudden decision that the Mama and the Daddy made at some point between the moment they woke up and finished breakfast on a Sunday morning. Then, they would wake up the Older Brother and me.

The Mama and Daddy got everything together. The Mama cooked a pot of rice and gathered plates, napkins, utensils, cups, cutting board, knives, blankets, towels, and so forth. The Daddy collected firewood (and later charcoal), grills, and buckets. The older I got, the more tasks I did, from gathering my own change of clothes to getting the picnic basket together and helping haul everything out to the car.

We usually made two stops before we got to our favorite picnic spot on the rocky shoreline in Monterey. The first was at a mom-and-pop store on the way out of town to buy the Daddy's bottle of whiskey, Seven-Up, soda, and hot dogs. The second was at the Fisherman's Wharf where the parents bought American mackerel, squid, and other fish for lunch.


The Daddy always drove the long scenic route along the coast to our picnic spot, which was over a short dune and down a slope full of boulders and rocks. It was tough going for a kid, but I managed to make it down by myself. The Daddy and the Older Brother were whirlwinds as they took several trips back and forth to the car.

Once the blanket was laid out, everyone, but the Daddy, changed into shorts. The Mama picked up a bucket and headed for the rocks to pick seaweed. At that time, people could gather seaweed freely for food. The water was still pristine, so we thought. The Older Brother went in another direction on his own adventure. The Daddy made a makeshift barbecue pit on the rocks, and once the fire was going, he mixed a drink of whiskey and Seven-Up. The Daddy was very happy to grill the fish and sip his drink, while the rest of was did our thing.


I stayed within sight of the Daddy, going farther and farther away as I grew older, climbing the rocks and splashing in the tide pools. Sometimes, I had my own bucket to gather snails, which we ate for supper when we got home. I always kept an eye out for the waves. The Mama told me to make a sign of the cross in the sand as a worrisome wave approached and that would keep me safe. It worked every time.

The Daddy called us in when the fish was cooked. The Mama took a long time coming back because she kept stopping to pick up more seaweed. But, finally she was back with a bucket full of red, pink, green, brown, and black seaweed. The Older Brother appeared from who knows where, a few times with an abalone or two.

Our lunch was a feast. Grilled fish. Hot dogs. Rice, Tomatoes and onions. And, whatever else the Mama packed in the basket. Yummm. The Mama often said at our picnics that eating at the beach made the food taste better.

After we ate, the Daddy washed the grills, then took a nap. The Mama fussed about, putting everything back in order, after which she sat back and enjoyed the moment, or went out for more seaweed. The Older Brother and I explored.  Sometimes I followed him, but could never keep up. Then before I knew it, it was time to change into our dry clothes and haul everything back up the hill to the car.


Last year, the Husband and I went by our family's favorite picnic spot. The sand dunes and rocky slope are no more. Rocks now litter the spot where we used to have our picnics. Doesn't matter, I can still see us there.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Just for Me


Knock, knock.

Someone was at the kitchen door, which was the back door at our house on 44 Shore Road.  The Mama opened the door. I was sitting at the kitchen table, keeping her company as she prepared dinner.

It was Uncle Frank, the Daddy's younger brother. He carried a tree stump in his arms. 

"I cut down a tree in my back yard," said Uncle Frank, putting it down on the floor, next to the kitchen counter. "I thought it was the right size for Susie."

I was four. I don't recall much of what happened other than being helped up on the stump and being able to see over the kitchen sink.

I don't remember much of those very early years. But, I must've been in the kitchen a lot with the Mama. Enough so that Uncle Frank thought I should have something just for me to stand on when I was there.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.






Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Foul, Fowl!


The Daddy bought several live chickens at a time from a local chicken farmer, and he and the Mama would slaughter them in the backyard.  I was 11 or 12 when the parents decided it was time for me to help with the slaughtering. Like I really wanted the experience. I suppose they figured a day would come when I would need to slaughter a chicken for survival. Yes, it would definitely be an asset if I were to be chosen for Survivor, the reality show. But, that's if I didn't get kicked off before my team won a challenge that rewarded us with chickens. I digress.

My part in the slaughter was simple.  I only needed to hold a chicken firmly down on a block of wood while the Daddy slit its neck. On the day of my rite of passage, I watched the parents do the process a couple of times. Then it was my turn. I kneeled behind the wood, and the Daddy put a chicken beneath my hands, face towards him. He did not let go of the chicken until he was sure the bird could not get away from me.

"Ready," said the Daddy.

"Okay," I said, leaning forward a little more to maintain a better grip on the bird.

The Daddy did his thing quickly. The chicken squawked and fidgeted madly under my hands, but I kept it steady so its blood drained into the pot beneath it. Then, it happened.

SPLAT. SPLAT. SPLAT.

The chicken performed it last (to put it politely) bathroom act.  All over my face, arms, and body!  Yeah, go Eeewwwwwww because I'm sure I did.

I was good helper though. I held that chicken until its spirit completely left it. The Mama took the chicken and I ran into the house to clean up.  The parents were good. They waited until I was in the house before they broke into laughter.

Click here to find other A to Z challenge participants.






Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Dude, The Husband -- A Very Thoughtful Being

My Alphabe Thursday theme -- The Dude, The Husband

The Husband is the reason that he and I, the Mama, and Molly the Cat are living together today.

About 12 years ago, it became very clear to me that the Mama's health was failing. Her nutrition was poor. Her body was tiring out. Worse of all, living alone, she was lonely.  The Mama moving into a nursing home or a residential care facility was out of the question. She had a horrible time living in a skilled nursing facility for six weeks after she broke her hip. A permanent move to a residential care facility would've killed her spirit, straight and simple.

At the time, the Husband and I lived about a two-and-a-half hour drive away in an urban environment. City living was not for the Mama. We were tiring of the mayhem, so we were open to moving to the rural area where I was born and raised.  The tough question was this: Could the Mama and us live in the same house? The Mama is a unique character who can be difficult to live with, as are the Husband and me.

But, here we are, nearly 12 years later— the eccentric, the hermit, the free spirit, and the pussy cat—still going strong, making a go at living together, sometimes contentiously, but mostly harmoniously.

The Husband is a very thoughtful human being. He could have said "No!"


It's Alphabe Thursday, hosted by the sweet Jenny Matlock. Today is the letter T. To check other participants, please click here.  By the way, if you're coming from the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, my B post is over here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Inang Mo. . .Emeteria

My ABC Wednesday theme: The Mama and
Her Authentic Green Thumbs. . .and Fingers
In the Mama's language of Ilocano, the word inang means mother. This photo is the Inang of the Mama when she was 70 years old or so. The last time the Mama saw her Inang was in October 1949, just before she sailed with the one-year old Only and Older Bionic Brother from the Philippines for the United States. The two were heading onward to their new lives with the Daddy, who was already living in their new home. 

I think it's fascinating that the Inang of the Mama signed that photo in 1971 to her daughter not as Inang Mo (your mother) but by her first name Emeteria. That to me is very forward thinking for a woman of the Filipino culture of her generation, which makes me very proud. Having never met the Inang of the Mama, I do not think of her as lola (the Ilocano word for grandmother), but as the bright, beautiful, and bold woman Emeteria.  

To know a little something about Emeteria, is know a bit more about the Mama and her authentic green thumbs. . .and fingers.

Emeteria married at the age of 14 to Cipriano who was 13. Her family was unhappy with the marriage. Not because both were young but because he was poor and a "pure" Filipino. (Emeteria's father was from Spain.) By the time, Emeteria was 28, she had given birth to five sons and one daughter. About two years later, Emeteria was a widow and the sole supporter of her family.

From the Mama's stories, I think of Emeteria as a Renaissance Woman. Better yet, a Wonder Woman.  Emeteria worked and managed their farm, as well as made money by sewing clothes, making and selling bottles of salted fish called bagoong, and doing other things. 

To help Emeteria, the Mama, at nine-years-old, was taken out of school to care for her younger brothers and the house. As the Mama grew, she learned how to raise crops, grow vegetables, tailor clothes, and do the various jobs that Emeteria did.  All of which made the Mama, herself, become a Renaissance Woman—a Wonder Woman!

The Mama in 1975

I'm participating in ABC Wednesday, a meme began by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt and managed today by Roger Green at Ramblin' with Roger. Today is the letter IClick here to read other posts.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Lola Julia


Lola Julia was my grand aunt. And, a grand aunt she most definitely was. (Lola means grandmother in Ilokano, the Mama's language.) Lola Julia was a one-of-a-kind woman. Once, the Mama said that I was like Lola Julia.  That's one of the best compliments I have ever received.

Unlike most Filipino women of her generation, Lola Julia had a career. Her father encouraged her to get an education. She became a nurse. During World War II, she worked at a hospital for mentally ill patients. When the Japanese solders took over the hospital, she and the other nurses pretended to be patients.  By the 1950s, she was in the United States working as a nurse, first on the East Coast and then on the opposite side of the country. In the 1970s, Lola Julia retired from a supervisory nursing position for a San Francisco hospital.

Lola Julia married late in life. She was in her late 40s or early 50s when she married Uncle Sam. She knew him when they were youngsters in the Philippines. They were second or third cousins. I got the impression that they were kinda smitten with each other back then. By the time, they met again in the United States, over 30 years had passed.

They wedded twice. The first time was a civil ceremony. Because they weren't married by a priest, Lola Julia did not consider them being legitimately married. She laughed as she told me how she kept coming up with excuses to keep Uncle Sam out of her bed. Finally, he got the idea and quickly agreed to get married in the church.

Lola Julia was magnanimous to a fault. As long as I knew her, she made generous loans to relatives and friends, which were sometimes not repaid. Relatives didn't bother her too much when Uncle Sam was alive. He didn't mind loaning you money as long as you agreed to his interest terms  which were far higher than the banks.  After Uncle Sam died, relatives boldly charmed Lola Julia for large loans.

I cringe when I think about the time she paid me to clean her backyard. The yard was full of weeds and junk that needed to be thrown away or placed in her garage.  I definitely earned my money, but I still felt like I had taken advantage of her.

When I married the First Husband, Lola Julia was among the few people who did not blink twice that I was marrying a much older man. She told me that the perfect age for a husband was twice my age plus seven years. And when I said, I was five years off, she assured me that I was close enough.

Today would have been Lola Julia's birthday. She would've been a sweet 107 years old.   

Happy Birthday Lola Julia!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mama Was Up the Ladder. Again.


Sawing. Clipping. Raking. Sweeping. Pushing dried limbs, branches, vines, leaves, and seed pods into plastic bags. That's how I spent most of my afternoon.

It wasn't what I had planned. When the Husband and I left this morning to do the errands, the Mama was reading the newspaper in the living room. Ninety minutes later, I looked out the back door to see a high limb on the miracle tree precariously hanging above the Mama, who sat beside the tall ladder, stripping dried leaves from skinny branches into her bucket.

I was furious. One, the Mama had been up the ladder. And, two, I had asked her the other day, after cutting back her banana trees, if she'd like me to prune the rest of the miracle tree. "No," she said. "The green (recycle) can is already full." Good, I thought, I'd prune the tree next Thursday.  Ha!

"You know we don't like you on the ladder," I growled, throwing my purse on the ground, and hurriedly climbing the ladder to saw off the limb. I proceeded to cut away at whatever else I could reach. Knowing that I was annoyed, the Mama toddled into the house when I asked her to take her medicine. Peace finally reached my head and I went into the house to put some groceries away and change my clothes.

About ten minutes after I was back on the ladder, the Husband came out to help. He took over pruning the tree, while I stripped the branches of seed pods and cut them into pieces that would eventually fit the green can.

"Why did you do this?" I asked the Mama, after reminding her that she didn't want me to finish pruning the tree yet.

"I didn't want you to work so hard," the 93-year-old woman said.

Sigh.



Monday, April 21, 2014

Reunited


If you were physically separated from your significant other, for whatever reason, would you still want to get back with him or her after a year? Five years? Thirty?

About a month after the Only and Older Bionic Brother was born, the Daddy, a naturalized U.S. citizen, returned to the United States. He realized that there would be more and better opportunities for his children in America than in the Philippines. This was in the late 1940s. He worked hard and within a year, he made enough money to book ship passage for the Mama and their son. The Mama did not want to leave her home and family. The Mama's mother told her that once she married, her life was with her husband's. She, the Mama, no longer belonged to the Grandmother. Thirteen months after the Daddy left, he and the Mama were reunited in their new home in California.

The stories of my two ninangs (godmothers) were different from the Mama.  They waited much, much longer to reunite with their spouses. The story of the ninongs (godfathers) and the Daddy, were similar, and to put the godparents' separation in context, I'll tell you a bit of that history. In the 1920s, the Philippines was a U.S. territory, which probably made it easier for Filipinos to travel as U.S. nationals. Throughout that decade, many of the young Filipino men, from all over the country, decided to go to Hawaii and the United States for the many jobs and good pay they were promised by agricultural recruiters and bragged about by friends and relatives who were already abroad. Most of the young men planned to work for a few years then return home with plenty of money to marry and start a family, if they had not one already. The Great Depression foiled their plans.

Ninang Deling and Ninong Mariano

She was 21 years old and he was nearly 24 when they married in 1924.  A son was born two years later. In 1928, Ninong Mariano and his brother sailed for the United States where they worked the farms for meager wages. Said Ninong Mariano, "The first time I came here, the wages were 35 cents an hour. During Depression, fifteen cents an hour. That was the best I could get. Some places it was twelve-and-a-half cents an hour."

He sent money home when he could. Ninang Deling made money for the family by taking vegetables from the province where she lived and selling them in Manila, then before returning home, purchased products to sell back home. She also made a living for her and son by sewing clothes. She said, "I was a seamstress. I sold clothes when I could. Sometimes I make five dresses for someone to buy. They used to pay me three pesos."

Ninang Deling and Ninong Mariano reunited in 1950. She was 47 years old. She had no conflict about leaving her home when her husband told her to come. Her son and her brothers were already in the United States. Ninang Deling said, "This is where my family was, so I come here. . . I (have) a good feeling."

Ninang Maxima and Ninong Vicente

They married in 1925 when she was 19 years old and he was 27. They had two children before he took off for America in 1929.  Over the years, he found jobs as a farm laborer and house boy. For 10 years, he worked in a Navy yard in California. Ninong Vicente said, "I liked to go back to Philippines, but no money. So I stay here. If you go there, you need lots of money to spend for the plane."

With the money her husband sent and the earnings she made from her sari-sari store, Ninang Maxima  managed to make a living for her family and send her son and daughter to school. Ninang Maxima said, "I am homesick to see my husband. When wartime, about five years, he didn’t write us. (There was) no mail to the Philippines."

Ninang Maxima finally reunited with her husband in 1959. "I didn’t recognize him when I came here. I didn’t know his face because it’s different. When he came here, he was young yet. When we got together, he’s old. I (was) 53. He was 60."

I'll do the math for you: Ninang Deling and Ninong Mariano were separated for about 22 years, while Ninang Maxima and Ninong Vicente were apart for 30 years. Amazing, isn't it?
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.   

Friday, April 18, 2014

Peeling Oranges


As the Daddy started the car, the Mama pulled an orange from the paper bag. She dug into the orange with her thumbnail, pulled away a bit of the peel, and handed it to her teenage son in the back seat. The Daddy eased onto the two-lane highway when the Mama took out another orange. This one she peeled completely, then gave the juicy fruit to her seven-year old daughter who peeked over the front seat.   In her mind, the Mama already forgave the children their mess.

The Mama reached for a third orange. The Daddy kept his eye on the road, maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of him. The Mama slowly peeled the orange, glancing now and then at the passing scenery. The teenager swallowed his last slice of orange and burped. His sister giggled.

The Mama reached over to the Daddy and touched his right hand with a piece of orange. His eyes still on the road, the Daddy took the orange and ate it in one bite. When he swallowed, the Mama gave him another piece. She looked at the back seat. "Junior, do you want another orange?" she asked.

The teenager turned a page of his comic book.

"Junior, another orange?"

"No."

"Susie, want more orange?" She held up a piece to the little girl, who happily took it with her sticky fingers.

The Mama handed the Daddy several more pieces before she finally ate a piece.

I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.   

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ninongs and Ninangs


The Mama and the Daddy asked six of their friends to be the ninongs and ninangs, or godparents, when I was baptized.  The Roman Catholic Church recognizes only two baptismal sponsors, and one ninang (female godparent) and one ninong (male godparent) did sign on the formal lines of the baptismal document a long time ago. The other four signed on the right hand top of the page. I have a feeling the godparents signed it all at once at the church, which makes me wonder if the priest panicked that the church rules were not being followed.

The parents taught me that the spouses of the godparents were also ninangs and ninongs, and I was to address them as such. Altogether, I had 10 godparents. I have many memories of these elegant people. Here are a few of them.

Ninang Deling taught me my numbers in Ilocano. She was quite patient with the four-year old me that bounced and danced around her as I repeated after her—maysa, dua, tallo, uppat, lima. . .

When I was six or seven, Ninong Cleto and I drove in his boat of a car to the store for candy. As I selected candy bars, he asked for the 3-foot tall doll sitting on the shelves up high. This doll had tits and wore heels and a fancy blue glittery gown. The Mama thought it too pretty to play with, but its hair still got shorn and its dress torn.

I think the late afternoon/early evening phone calls from Ninang Babe started when I was in middle school. Usually a bit tipsy, she called to tell me how much she loved me. She talked about other stuff, but I only understood that she loved me. Our family didn't say "I love you" to each other back then. It was a given. Yet, for a kid, it's nice to hear the words, even from a godmother who by then I had no idea what she looked like.

In 1975, a friend and I decided to drive cross country after the spring term was over. The parents did all they could to discourage me. The idea of two young women driving, unchaperoned, across the United States was a foreign concept for them. What if your car breaks down? What if you meet bad people? What if you run out of money? And so on and so forth. I started to get anxious and thought maybe I shouldn't take the trip. Then Ninong Pablo dropped by the parents' house for a visit. "I hear you're going to drive across America," he said. I nodded. The Daddy had probably called him to come over and advise me.  "You're going to have a great time,"Ninong Pablo said.

And, then, there was Ninong Frank. The last time I saw him was in a supermarket parking lot. He was heading towards his car, while I was heading into the market. As always, he gave me his version of a big smile and eventually asked how old am I now. When I told him that I was in my 40s, he was quite startled. "Oh, well," he said, pulling out a five-dollar bill from his pocket. "Here. Buy yourself a doughnut."
I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this month. To check out other participants, click here. See you tomorrow.   

Monday, September 30, 2013

Another Year of Picking Tomatoes with the Mama


Sixty-nine pounds of organic tomatoes.

That's how many pounds of tomatoes the Husband, the Mama, and I picked at the Live Earth Farm in Watsonville yesterday.  The farm was having its last u-pick day for tomatoes, and, we were quite fortunate to learn about it just in time.

I have gotten spoiled. Maybe the Husband and the Mama have, too. For the last four years, we have picked enough organic tomatoes to freeze and use until the next tomato season. Frozen organic tomatoes taste almost as if they were just picked. That's reason one for me saying I am spoiled.

Reason number two is that I like seeing Mama enjoy herself as she picks tomatoes. I think it brings her back to the days of working in vegetable seed research. We bring her little green bench so that she can sit as she pick tomatoes in solitude under the warm sun. "Don't go too far," she always tells me, as I go to find my own row of solitude nearby, while the Husband walks toward the far end of the field.

I didn't think we would be picking tomatoes this year. The farm that we usually go to wasn't planning any public U-pick days. The Mama was very disappointed when I told her. So, I searched the Internet for organic farms in nearby counties and came across Live Earth Farm. She thought it was too far to go for tomatoes. "Just buy them at the store," she said. "It's the same price."

"$1.00 a pound. You can't get a better price for organic tomatoes," I said, already deciding to go whether or not the Mama accompanied us.

At the last second, the Mama decided to go with us. She doesn't like to travel much anymore, and she was quite a grumpy traveler, especially when we got lost finding the place. But, all was well after she plopped herself on her little green bench and plucked the first tomato off the vine.

When we hauled our boxes to the scales, she said, "Ask the farmer if he needs workers. We can come work for him. How much do you think he pays?" Before I could answer, she said sadly, "He won't hire me. I move too slow."

I don't know about that. She picked 24 pounds of tomatoes on her own. That's pretty darn good for a tiny 90+ year-old-woman.