In Fall 1962, the family moved into a brand new house on a brand new street a couple miles east of town. Lucky 711 was the street number; El Camino Paraiso, the street name. Translation: Paradise Road. Myself, I prefer "The Road to Heaven" because the cemetery, run by the Catholic Church, sat next door.
I thought a ghost lived in my bedroom closet. Every now and then, until I left for college, just as I was falling asleep, I experienced old hag syndrome, a kind of sleep paralysis. The only way I felt safe was to sleep in a fetal position on my left side, facing away from the closet.
Cute yellow house, don't you think? It had a huge back yard, enough
space for the Daddy to grow a good-size vegetable garden, as well as
plant fruit trees and raise chickens, pigeons, goats, and pigs.
Fortunately for us we lived in the county. With all that, the Parents still
were able to put in a patio, some lawn, and a flower garden.
The Mama sold the yellow house in 1987, a year after her retirement and several years after the Daddy died. I wonder if ghosts still live in that closet.
I need a broom to sweep the dirt off the sidewalk in the front yard, which means a slow walk around the house to the shed in the backyard. I push apart the rusty sliding shed door and immediately spy the broom in the filled, and so far neat, interior.
The broom, mind you, is not pristine. It looks a little frayed. Still, I find myself say, "I can't use you."
Oh no! That's the Mama in me speaking. A broom lasted literally forever for her because she let it sit for many months before using it, and when she did, it was sparingly.
I shook off the Mama's voice. The broom in the shed is solely for outdoor purposes, including sweeping dirt from the cement. So what that we bought the broom within the past year or so. So what that the broom will get more bent out of shape because I really need to sweep with extra muscle. It's not going to put us in the poorhouse if we need to buy a new broom. (At least, not yet. Maybe not ever if the current GOP tax bill loses in Congress.)
Needless to say, but I shall, I picked up the broom and did my sweeping. Near the end of my task, as I pushed dirt into the garden, I realized what I really needed was the push broom in the garage.
As in my teenage-self sulk, which was playing my guitar all Sunday afternoon, singing Flowers on the Wall, Elusive Butterfly, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and other angst songs, in the living room.
I did do that. One time, during a pause, the Mama called out from the kitchen, "Are you done now?"
The poor Mama. She was a saint to endure two or more hours of my off-key singing and probably out-of-tune guitar.
Okay. Focus. Back to the subject I began.
I don't want to do this not-a-hysterical operation even though I know it's a preventative measure that may let me live the full life that I'm meant to have.
Don't worry. It will happen. In three weeks, I'll no longer have a reproductive system. I'm way beyond baby-producing time so my fist-size of a womb with attaching tubes and ovaries will be no more.
I've never given birth. I wanted five kids. Maybe I have them in parallel universes. One can dream.
I wonder if I'll be a bit depressed after the surgery. When I had all four wisdom teeth pulled, I was blue for a couple of days over my missing four needless teeth. I felt like something was taken from me.
A long time ago, the thumb of my Auntie Dee (not her real name) got infected. She didn't want to go to the doctor because she was afraid he might amputate it and then she would die without all her body parts. The pain eventually got unbearable so Auntie Dee saw the doctor. She didn't lose her thumb.
I admit that thought about wanting to die with all my parts crossed my mind. If there is such a thing as reincarnation would I come back as a male in my next life because I don't have my xx parts?
Jibber jabbering like this has talked me out of a sulky mood. There you go. I'm done now.
"I already have a place," the Mama said. "With your father. They saved me a space on top of him."
Always a forward thinker, as well as practical-minded, the Mama bought a dual burial grave site when arrangements were made for the Daddy in 1982. He was buried in the Veterans section in the cemetery a few miles away from the house. The section was new, so the Daddy scored a front row seat, beneath a big old shade tree that was planted in the same year as the Daddy. I'm sure the Mama was pleased with where her bones are resting. In life, the Mama liked to watch people go by.
When I had to arrange all the funeral stuff last year, I was very thankful that the Mama took care of the burial site. I was also grateful that after 34 years the mortuary had a pristine paid-in-full record of that transaction.
I hope the Mama's spirit is having loads of fun and laughter soaring through the Universe at beyond warp speed. I have no doubt that she skims by us.
Today, I'm sure, the Mama is smiling at her roses.
Today marks the anniversary of the first year of the Mama's spirit roaming through the universe.
This photo was taken a week before the Mama's final adventure of life begun. I'm glad that the Husband, Molly the Cat, and I got to go through that last amazing trip with the Mama. One of these days I'll tell the tale.
Click hereif you'd like to see how the former lawn has progressed.
From last Thursday to Monday morning, I've been playing in the front yard, changing more of the looks of the former lawn. You see, the weather predictors said that rain is a coming. (And it has!) So, of course, I needed to take advantage of the rain. I dug, hoed, and pulled patched of turf and sowed wildflower seeds. The Husband also got in the fun and dug holes for the Mama's roses that were getting nowhere anymore in their pots.
One of the dilemmas of creating flower plots in the front yard is trying to keep the birdies from eating the seeds and the kitties (not Molly the Cat) from turning the plots into their personal latrines.
No problem. The Mama taught me a good enough solution.
We took the branches that we pruned from the fruit trees last winter and criss-crossed them across the flower plots. Voici, voilå!
With sun, rain, and good fortune, all will be in bloom by the end of April.
It's ABC Wednesday time. Click here to check out what other participants are posting about the letter K. Thank you, ABCW team!
"We can't store the persimmons in the garage," I said to the Mama and the Husband at the lunch table one day. "There's an uh-toot."
The Mama laughed.
"What's that?" the Husband asked.
"A mouse," I said. Most likely I shuddered. Rodents give me the creeps. "Uh-toot in Ilocano means mouse. Right, Mama?"
"Uh-taut," said Mama. "You have a funny pronunciation."
"Uh-toot," I said.
"Uh-toot," said the Husband. "She's saying the same thing."
The Mama smiled.
"Uh-toot," I said. "Be careful. If you say Ah-toot, you're talking about a fart."
That conversation happened a few years back. Recently, I learned that the Ilocano word for mouse is bau, which I never heard the Mama or the Daddy use. I also found out that the spelling for fart is o-t-o-t.
The Mama considered mice as farts. Giggle.
Today is the letter U at ABC Wednesday. Click here to join in and/or check out what other participants are sharing. Thank you, ABCW team!
This is the last photo I took of the ever vibrant Mama gazing directly at me. This was back in March when the Asian pear tree behind her was beginning to bloom. I discovered the photo this morning when I was looking for something to share at Friday's Hunt, hosted by Teresa of Eden Hills.
The photo fulfills the prompts for this week: 1) Starts with V 2) Week's Favorite 3) Thankful
I'm thankful that I have a photo of the oh-so-vital Mama. A couple weeks after this photo was taken, her body, as her doctor put it, finally hit the wall. It no longer was able to compensate after her 94 years of living. There's much for me to be thankful when it comes to the Mama. Most of all, I am thankful that the Mama was my mama.
Click here to visit Eden Hills and the other participants of this week's Friday's Hunt.
That's how I do things these days—little by little.
Little by little, I'm clearing out the Mama's belongings, moving furniture around, changing things, and so on and so forth. I work at a task until the sadness surfaces. Some tasks, I'm not ready to do.
The front yard has been easier to tackle. Somewhat. I committed myself in August when I dug out a bit of the lawn and planted some of the Mama's jade plants that outgrew their pots. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the post, to see how the change looked in September.
Progress has been little by little.
A couple weeks ago, I created a geranium corner in the upper part of the yard. At first, I planned to transplant some of the Mama's geraniums into the ground, but then I decided to have the Mama's reading chair grace that corner. (The chair is too flimsy for anyone heavier than the Mama to sit on.) I want to eventually paint the chair yellow and blue, or maybe just blue or just yellow. Maybe later, when the geraniums outgrow their pots, I'll put them in the ground. We shall see.
I still have quite a few geraniums that I need to repot. Also, geraniums to trim and to decide whether to propagate some of their stems. And, then there are the roses and everything else that needs attention. My head spins thinking about it.
Take a deep breath.
Little by little.
Blogger friend Jesh hosts a weekly meme called All Seasons, which is open from Sunday to Wednesday for anyone to link her post. Click hereto join in or to read what other participants are writing about.
Harvesting crops is hard back-breaking work. Every time I pass by a field of workers, I'm very grateful to them. How can anyone not want to give them a living wage?
It wasn't until 1978 that farmworkers on large farms were finally included under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which required their employers to pay them minimum wage. Still, in some states today, farmers can choose to give their workers a piece-rate wage rather than a minimum hourly rate. It's not a high piece rate either. For instance, if a worker receives 50 cents for every bucket of tomatoes she picks, she would need to pick about 2.5 tons of tomatoes to earn an equivalent minimum hourly wage for a 10-hour day. I think all states ought to mandate hourly wages for farmworkers.
I've got a Mama story for you. She always laughed when she told me about her first year working in the fields of America. It was either the first or second year that she was living here, so that was 1950 or 1951. She decided to pick tomatoes to help bring in money for the family. She was paid something like 25 cents a box. When she picked a bucket of tomatoes, she carried it to the end of the row and put it in the box.
"That was so hard,' the Mama said. "I didn't know what I was doing. It took hours to fill a box."
By the time she had two boxes, the farmer had come around. "He was a nice man," the Mama said. "He felt sorry for me. He started picking tomatoes and putting them in my boxes."
He was the same man that later taught the Mama how to drive an old Model T. But, that's another story.
I'm hooking up with Jeanette's Seasons, a weekly meme that closes tomorrow. Click here to check out her blog and other Seasons' participants.
Tomorrow is now today. That means it's time for ABC Wednesday, which is a meme in which I like to participate. It's the letter N this week. I figure with a little addition to this post's title and the fact that the Mama's boss was a nice guy, this post fills the bill. Click hereto check out other ABCW participants.
Scuff marks, cat tracks, and stains. I no longer could ignore it. The kitchen floor needed mopping.
Because I am hopping along on a cane, the Husband agreed to mop the floor. (My knees are alternating between being painful.) All I had to do was fetch the tools—the bucket and mop handle out of the shed and the mop head out of the closet.
Problem was we had no mop head. Sigh. Snap! Light bulb.
I had the answer in my hand. The cane!
The Mama's cane, actually. She rarely used it to get around. What she did use the cane a lot for was shining the kitchen floor. She threw a rag on the floor and danced it around with her cane.
Yup. Like mother, like daughter.
I dipped a rag in a bucket of vinegar, threw it on the kitchen floor, and danced it around the worse parts with the cane. Ha!
I'm quite late this week for ABC Wednesday. As the saying goes, better late, than never. Which the latter I thought it would be for the letter M. Seeing the doctor about my knees this morning got me out of my funk. Thanks, Dr. B. Thanks, too, to the ABCW team. Want to read other M posts? Sure you do. Click here to go over to the ABCW site.
The Mama was quite proud of her lawn. Green. Manicured. Weedless.
When she no longer could take care of the lawn, she hired a lawn guy, which was a great luxury for the Mama. When that got too expensive, she sighed and accepted that the lawn would be cut during my monthly visit. Then, when the Husband and I moved in with the Mama, the lawn became the Husband's job.
As the drought became a real thing, watering the lawn was a luxury, as well as an ongoing skirmish between the Mama and me. The Husband continued watering it, but not as often or as much. The Mama took to watering it when we were gone, if she felt the lawn was fading.
I was very happy when the City finally decreed a water rationing and a $500 fine for using too much water. "You have to decide," I said to the Mama, "water for your vegetable garden or the lawn. You can't have both for now."
The lawn faded. The Mama sighed. The Mama complained. Fortunately, the lawn came back after the winter rains.
We had a steady rainy season this past winter. The lawn was thick with greenness. The Mama was very happy. "I wish the lawn would be green like this all the time," the Mama often said to us, as she looked out the window while we ate lunch.
I'm glad the lawn thrived for the Mama as her body was winding down.
Only nature has watered the lawn since the Mama has left us.
The Husband and I like a green lawn, too, but to have one when our water source is depleting is simply not a good idea. In May we planned to hire someone to pull out the lawn so that we could put in a drought-resistant landscape. This and that, and that and this, put that plan down on the list.
More than two weeks ago, on the Mama's birthday, I dug out a small portion of the lawn and planted three of the Mama's overgrown potted jade plants. Yesterday, I dug out a bit more of the lawn, which is how it will be, a little bit at a time. I've already heard other plants of the Mama's saying they'd like to hang out on her once-upon-a-time lawn.
While I was working yesterday, I saw and heard crows cawing and watching me from across the street. I like to think that the Mama's spirit was saying, "It's your lawn now. Do what you want. It looks good."
The ever loving, curious, generous, and unique Mama would've been 95 years old today. Shoot up the fireworks! Bang on the walls! Pick some tomatoes! Dance up a storm! Sing, sing, sing!
I searched through my archives for a story to share about the Mama. This one is my favorite, which was published on June 18, 2010. Originally, it was entitled Talking about Sex with the Mama. The new title says it better.
Some Kind of Wonderful Yesterday
the mama asked me to explain something she was reading in an AARP
flyer. It was a short article about what a woman can do about vaginal
dryness so that intercourse isn't so painful.
The mama is a voracious reader. She likes to learn. Both things I didn't
know until the husband and I became her roommates several years ago.
English is not her primary language, and I would say on a scale of 1 to
10, her English reading comprehension is about a 4, more or less. She
doesn't let complicated or unfamiliar words get her down. If she's
interested in a story, she plows through it. If she's really interested
in what words mean precisely, she asks me.
So, she asked me.
The mama hadn't even taught me about sex when I a kid. The only
instruction I received that came closest to the topic was the afternoon
of getting ready for my senior class prom. She showed me a gigantic
safety pin, then put it in my purse, saying something like "In case you
need it." She walked away before I could ask "For what?" I figured that
out years later. She didn't have to worry. My prom date came out of the
closet years later. If I'm recalling that eventful afternoon correctly,
the mama gave me the safety pin after the daddy advised me, "Don't go f***ing around."
The parents. Do I love them!
But, back to the curious mama of today.
"Kiki," I said, somehow recalling the Ilocano slang word for vagina, pointing to hers, then mine.
"It's about what to do when it's dry. . . ." She looked at me with surprise.
"And you want to have sex." I quickly walked away, but not before noticing that she went back to the article.
In the kitchen where I thought he hadn't heard, the husband asked, "What was that about?"
I'd probably been lying on the bed reading for three or four hours that sunny summer weekend afternoon. I was probably 12 years old.
That's what the Mama got for buying me a bed with a bookcase headboard. It was packed full with paperback books that I purchased from the monthly Scholastic book catalog during the school year. Three or four dollars bought me a lot of books back then. I shall always be grateful the Mama and the Daddy let me buy so many, and for leaving me alone to read the books over and over most of the time.
Reading was my favorite thing to do in summer, followed by riding bicycles, watching movies, and eating. Except for the bicycle riding, I seem to have slipped back into my once-upon-a-time summer routine. I'm not getting much done, I admit. And, yes, my clothes are feeling snug. Again.
I really do need to urge me to step outside and do something. There's still time today to water the flowers in the backyard, or pick up all the apples and lemons that have dropped off the trees, or rake the leaves, or put everything back in the shed, or . . . .
Maybe I'll take my book outside with me as incentive. After each thing I finish, I can read a chapter.
I'm a grown-up. First things, first. But, that could be reading.
Silly me, thinking I can bribe or shame myself into doing things.
On the afternoon that the Mama died, the Husband, Long-time Friend Kathy, Molly the Cat, and I sat on the patio and ate our lunch. The Mama's apple tree and her butterfly bush gave us shade from the warm Spring sun. The sky was blue. The Mama's roses, daisies, and other flowers were in bloom. The birds serenaded us. The Mama's bedroom window faced the backyard. I like to think that she could see, smell, and hear the day as we did and that she enjoyed listening to our relaxed cadences and tones.
At one point I leaned back in my chair and gazed at the sky. A crow was lazily flying back and forth. It was like a photo, the crow framed by the foliage of the Mama's trees and bushes. As I watched the bird, I felt like I could see the Mama's spirit flying up towards the crow and dancing alongside it.
When I finally looked away, I saw a white butterfly fly out of the Mama's garden by the rose bushes. That was the first white butterfly I saw that day, which, ever since the Daddy died 34 years ago, represented the Daddy saying to me, "Hello. All is well."
At the Mama's rosary service, I read this short tale that I wrote three years ago. I had posted it on June 5, 2013.
The Girl That Did Fly
Once upon a time, in a far away place, a little girl wished upon a star, "I wish I could fly."
Unlike other fairy tales, Midge's wish did not come true. So, she thought.
One morning, Midge woke up, thinking, "Ah, today is the day I shall fly." She flung off her blankets and jumped to her feet.
Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!
each bounce, Midge hung in the air higher and longer. Nearly
three-quarters to the ceiling, she turned somersaults and back flips,
cartwheels and spins.
She bounced and she bounced until her grandmother opened her door.
good, my dear," said Lola Sue smiling so proudly. "You're getting to be
quite good with the triple flips. I do believe you take after your
Lola Sue jumped onto the bed, and together they bounced.
Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!
Holding hands, they bounced even higher and higher.
"I think it is time," Lola Sue said."Are you ready?"
"Yes! Yes!" exclaimed Midge, although she knew not what it might be. "Then let us go!" Midge and her Lola Sue bounced once more, hung a second, then flew around the room.
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh," said Midge. "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."
on tight," said Lola Sue, as she lead the little girl out the door,
through the house, and out a window into the Lola's garden. From there,
they soared up through the banana plants and into the big, blue sky.
Today is the letter F at ABC Wednesday, a wonderful meme with awesome bloggers from around the world. Click here to check out these other bloggers, and maybe to join in yourself. Thanks to Roger, Di, Melody, and all of the ABCW team for giving us a place to share ourselves.
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.
I'm a few chapters into The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert. I'm enjoying it and it's so easy to read because the writing is seamless.
The surgeon removed the week-old bandage covering the incision that marks the spot where the Husband's pacemaker was inserted last week. "You're good to go," said the surgeon. Hurrah!
Why are some people okay about their neighbors being able to hear their music, conversation, and screaming grandkids clear as a bell from their backyard?
I found three bags full of the brother's children's clothes in the Mama's closet. They've been there for at least 25 years, when the brother's wife put them in the bags to throw out. Somehow the Mama got her hands on them before she could.
This is what I've been doing with some of the Mama's various varieties of cups.
This is what I've been doing with some of the Mama's various varieties of plants that need to be put into pots or repotted.
I'm having a lot of fun.
It's the letter V at ABC Wednesday. Click here to check out the other participants or to link up with the weekly meme started by Denise Nesbitt and continued today by the ABCW team headed by Roger Green. .