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Showing posts from March, 2018

Getting Good at This: Losing a Loved One

Odd, what some people say when offering their condolences.In an attempt to say something meaningful, they stumble out what they think is kind and well-intentioned but sounds rude instead. At my mother’s funeral, one stark comment that stayed with me was, “You’re getting good at this.” Good at this?What did that mean? Losing my family? Managing a funeral? Penning eulogies? I would rather be good at anything else but this. I know those who said this to me did not mean it to be rude, so instead of being offended, I try to understand why they think I am “good at this.” I was in my early 30’s when my grandfather was dying from cancer.In their grief, my grandmother, mother, and aunt hadn’t thought about getting him a priest to give him “Anointing of the Sick,” what non-Catholics like to call Last Rites. I called my mother’s parish priest and he came immediately. My grandfather died soon after. I like to think he found comfort in this rite. A few years later, I did the same for my dear grand…

My Grandmother’s Tamales

Grandma Ene made sure I had the recipe for her tamales.She stopped and waited for me to write each step down before adding another. “Una cucharra de sal y una poquita mas porque se pierde cuando los cocinas.” Add a little more salt than usual because they lose their saltiness while you cook them, she said. I think she may have known she would not last forever and none of us, including my mother, had ever bothered to learn her recipe for tamales. I wrote it all down, translating “handfuls” into table- or teaspoons and “tanto asi” into measuring cups. The filling was made with pork and beef mixed together in a red chili pepper sauce and a whole box of raisins thrown into the simmering pot.The raisins were an Old-World addition that cooled the hotness of the spices.She supervised the making of the dainty tamales, a thin smear of corn masa inside a corn husk and a stingy tablespoon of meat tucked into the center. She made sure they all looked and felt the same. The Christmas after she pas…

Living our Life Story/ Autobiographical Writing Prompts

Among the many preparations for my mother’s funeral last week, I was responsible for collecting and scanning photos to create a video of her life.I also volunteered to deliver her eulogy, a presentation and a farewell for a long life well lived. Not everything I collected was used.Both the video and the eulogy were heavily edited by me, not because my mother lived a scandalous life, but because some things were private. Some folks sent pictures that out of context were no longer funny.Some things that happened in her ninety years on earth were not for display. All of this makes me aware of how I have lived my own life.Some things were not of my choosing and also not for public display. My maternal grandmother once told me one should have no regrets at the end of the journey on this earth.I asked her how one accomplishes that, and she said, “Forgiveness.”Forgive yourself and the other person. Life is full of mistakes, but instead of dwelling on them, forgive yourself, learn from it, and …

Be the Hero of Your Own Story

Half a lifetime ago, an acquaintance walked up to me and handed me a worn paperback book.She thrust it at me in passing and said the book reminded her of me.I was caught off guard.We were nothing more than fellow employees so I was intrigued by what she meant by that.I looked at the book and noticed its imprint.It was a romance novel. She took off, back to work before I could ask more from her, but she did yell over her shoulder that she wanted me to return the book once I read it. Since it was Friday and the weekend loomed ahead, I decided to read the book and return it the following Monday. It was long ago but I remember the plot and the author’s name.It was about a single mother of three who falls for the hunky neighbor next door.Since both my neighbors were happily married and only one kind of fell into the hunky description, I figured that was not the part that reminded my fellow worker about me, besides there was no way she would know either of these two men unless she stalked my…