In my mind, I'm five years old having a high old time wandering and wondering. In reality, I'm now approaching my late 60s, wowza! I tell you a lot of creativity is still to be found in this old young self. In you, too, whatever your age. Welcome to my barefoot world!
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.
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
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
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
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
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 ladde
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
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 th
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 Cle
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 f
Check out other A to Z Challenge participants by clicking here . Uncle Frank was the Daddy's younger brother by three years. Both left their home in the Philippines when they were in their early 20s. The Daddy left first in 1928, going to Hawaii as a contracted sugar plantation laborer. Uncle Frank left a year later. He sold his carabao to make his fare for a ship to the United States. After a 28-day trip in third class with 250 other young Filipino men, Uncle Frank landed in Seattle. During the late 1970s, I conducted and ta ped an oral history interview with Uncle F rank. The following is what he said about those first few years (1929-193 1) in America. During those early Depression years , h e traveled to different states to find work by hopping trains. Uncle Frank in the 1970s My ticket was from Philippines to California, but I got no more money so I find a job in Seattle. I saw an advertisement for thinning beets in Minnesota. I apply for the job. We went to