Do you know what capirotada is? If you’re Mexican and you don’t know, let me at least catch you up with my limited knowledge. Capirotada is a dessert that my ama made during Easter time, it’s the only time of the year we ate it. It was one of those traditions that are just a part of your life and you just accept it, no questions asked.
Pero, this week I’ve been wondering about Capirotada. When I’ve googled capirotada, it’s categorized as bread pudding because of the bread, fruits, and spices. Somehow it doesn’t feel right to call it that. My amas Capirotada included corn tortilla in the ingredients! It is such a strange and tasty dessert. This week I’ve learned a bit of the religious history behind it. It was interesting, pero para mi, capirotada is just a segway to a sweet memory of my ama in the kitchen. Here are the important ingredients, or the ones that my tastebuds remembered.
In true Mexican fashion Capirotada dessert has tortillas in it. It is layered starting with corn tortillas at the bottom of the pan. Then comes the toasted birrote slices. I can see my ama arranging the slices, making sure to cover the entire pan. Luego, she sprinkled the top of the bread with peanuts, ciruelas y pasas. Prunes and raisins were the only fruits I remember that she added into the mix. Then she covered those ingredients with a sugary syrup that was made from Pilloncillo which is another one of those ingredients you will most likely find in a Mexican kitchen. She had several meticulous layers so by the time she layered on the chunks of cheese I lost interest and went outside to play. Hijole! It was not a fancy dessert, but now I know that it involved a good amount of prep work and cooking time. How disappointing, because although I enjoyed eating my amas capirotada, I didn’t want to make it. Pero gracias a Dios, my big sister came to the rescue again!
Asi es, last week my sister told me that she was going to make capirotada! She hoped she could make it like our ama. Although I was skeptical, I was happy, porque pues, it was very possible that I could come really really close to tasting my amas capirotada, oh sweet memories. We talked about the ingredients. Her best memory was the delicious melted cheese in it, but she also remembered the details about the process of making it. My greatest concern was that she made sure to add corn tortilla to the layers. I mean, it doesn’t make sense that a dessert has tortillas in it, pero, my ama added tortillas and I was sure that if Marina was going to succeed at making my amas capirotada she must add the key ingredient, corn tortillas. She promised to bring me a sample when she did it so that I could tell her the honest truth; could she even come close though? Estaba preocupada, what if she didn’t make it right? Would I hurt her feelings? Hijole!
Last weekend we met in Pine Valley Ca. It was a beautiful dayfull of quality time together but first things first, we made the most important transaction of the day, which was the capirotada. In a nice floral cooler bag she had packaged very carefully, her version of my amas capirotada, I was both excited and nervous to receive my prize. It was a beautiful day. My nietas and my bestie were part of the date. They played and we talked, a win-win arrangement. The recent rains have made San Diego County beautiful again, Pine Valley is as green and pretty as ever. We met at the park so the girls could play in the playground, mientras platicamos.
Luego, in between more platica we went shopping at the nearby outlet center. Y por supuesto, shopping and talking makes you hungry. The day passed a little too quickly, before we knew it the girls were hugging their tia “Rina” goodbye. I drove away with capirotada on my mind. Imaginate, it had been years since I’ve had that wonderfully strange once a year dessert. I imagined my ama layering her casuela, making sure the tortillas went in first.
My sister called to ask if I tried it. I had not. I wanted to be all in, I didn’t want a full stomach to mess up my taste test. I waited until the next day to try the capirotada. I warmed it in the microwave, then my flaco said “I want to try it.” I couldn’t tell if he was just being polite,I served and watched him while my own serving warmed in the microwave. I was a bit dramatic about slowly getting my coffee and my spoon and sitting at the table with my capirotada. I asked Ben, “What did you think? Was it good?” He said, “Yes, it was alright, it reminded me a little bit of apple pie? Que?! I should not have asked him. I carefully bit into it, all the ingredients in one spoonful. The sweet and salty flavor came alive in my mouth. She did it! The capirotada was sweet enough, but not too sugary. The bread was bread pudding-ish and the mixture of the fruit and nuts blended so nicely. Y pues the tortilla was in the mix somehow bringing it all together. Immediately I called her, I had to tell her everything, about my worry and how I was so wonderfully relieved and happy to know my amas capirotada would come again at Easter.
If you’ve never had capirotada, I encourage you to try it. Asking my sis for the recipe may be tricky though because like my Ama, we tend to cook without measurements or recipes. My bestie said “Mexican food has a very distinct way of combining flavors” Capirotada is definitely distinct, it’s a good combination of sweet and salty and soft and crunchy. Gracias a Dios for traditions that live on.
I have made some changes. One has been to increase my posting, y pues it is a challenge. I sit down to write and stare at my computer, I look at my phone… Oh! I gotta answer that text immediately. Hmmm…. I wonder what I can make for dinner? I am struggling. I don’t know if there’s a method, una llave? A special technique or touch that will open up the words, phrases and prose vault, where de repente, I’m flowing in writing fluency and writing good stuff regularly, like more than once a week. It’s coming, I know it, inspiration is around the corner.
Mientras llega, I’ll share an essay (a rough draft, very rough) that I enjoyed rereading without my homeschooling teacher glasses on. No creas, I reread it and wanted to make all the corrections needed, but I remembered homeschooling days are finished! The essay was written by my 14 year old Benjamin Emery Greene, he was most likely in a hurry to get the assignment done. Almost exactly 11 years ago, he was a very new brother in law. His older brother Jonathan and sister Daniella had just gotten married 2 months prior and he was pondering on the big changes in our familia. It is always interesting to me the different perspectives people have, especially through the lens of children with life changing events.
Before the Weddings, After the Weddings
by Emery (age 14)
It was a week before the weddings and the house was crazy. We had guests living in our house until the weddings were over and we had my uncle staying in a trailer in our backyard. I suppose I would have been sad that my two siblings were getting married and leaving but there was no room in our house for that yet. The pantries were overflowing with pasta and our living room and backroom had wedding decorations all over. The fridge was filled with oranges and the closets had plastic plates and cups. With all the frenzy it was actually pretty fun. I liked the busyness, but then it came to a stop. After the two weddings were over, the guests slowly started to leave and the busyness vanished. Pretty soon it was down to just four; me, my little brother, my mom and my dad, but change can change you and that could be a good thing.
The weddings were beautiful. First came Jonathan’s. I especially liked his because I was a groomsman along with two of my cousins, Meno and Gerardo. I was super excited because I had never been a groomsman before and I really didn’t expect it. It was very exhilarating for me being able to sit at the big table and being served first. First we had to get ready at the house. It was actually really awkward at first because the photographers kept taking pictures of random things, like me buttoning up my shirt and putting my shoes on. But I had a lot of fun. Then when I was walking up the aisle and standing up I kept moving around because I had just heard that if you stand straight for too long you might pass out. I really didn’t want to pass out so I was really careful. Anyways it was a lot of fun.
In Danielle’s wedding I wasn’t able to be a groomsman but I did walk down the aisle with her holding up her train with my little brother Thomas. In Danielle’s I didn’t have as much fun but it was still a nice wedding. Danielle’s was sadder to me though because she is my sister. It was especially sad when my Dad sang her a song. I think practically everyone cried. It was very sweet. Jonathan and I actually did our own song for her too. It was fun. The food was actually really good at both weddings and everyone had a good time.
Before the weddings life was pretty different. I would say Jonathan was over more but that part hasn’t really changed. The only part that’s really different with Joanthan is that he doesn’t spend the night and he and Denise always kiss. When Jonathan first got married I thought he would never hang out with us anymore and he wouldn’t take me places but I can see now that I was wrong. I don’t go with them on dates anymore because they don’t need me. Three weeks after they were married I went to McDonalds with them. McDonalds isn’t the best place to go but it was still cool. I hung out with them almost all day because of the church outreach. It’s when our church goes around handing out flyers and stuff for church. Jonathan also came over a LOT, mainly to see his new dog, Oso. The day they got married they got a nice husky as their wedding gift. He has to stay at our house because their apartments don’t allow dogs. He’s very handsome. Denise also works close so when he gets off early he waits at our house to pick her up. As far as Danielle and Marcus, we only see them at church and sometimes a fellowship. They don’t come over much but she is really happy with him. It’s kind of funny to see the differences between Danielle and Marcus (compared) to Jonathan and Denise. Jonathan and Denise always kiss and hug but Danielle and Marcus, I don’t think I’ve seen them kiss other than on their wedding day.
Now that Danielle and Jonathan are married and have their own spouses, our life at home is a little different. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my sister’s room but I guess I’m fine with mine. It actually feels really nice being the oldest kid in my house now but my favorite part of all is that we have more food and snacks. I guess you could call this whole experience a “journey” to help us grow and adjust. The hard part for me is the quietness. Our house is a lot quieter and less busy now that they’re gone. My schedule is also a lot freer now that I don’t have chaperone duties. Chaperoning was fun mostly with Denise and Jonathan because they actually went out and got food and did stuff. They also included me in their conversations and laughed when I was funny. With Danielle they just went to some mountain or park and talked. They were also a good ride source for all the fellowships (church youth gatherings) and hangouts but now I need to find a new ride source. I really do miss the old times our family had; however there are benefits to our new family lifestyle also.
I have to say I didn’t mourn too much after the weddings but I definitely was sad. I am really happy for my two older siblings and their spouses and hope they have good lives together. I hope they don’t leave their two little brothers and family out of their equation now that they’re married but remember all the times we helped and chaperoned them. Hopefully this experience has helped me grow and mature. Sometimes I don’t like the changes but as I said before. Change can change you, and that can be a good thing!
I let the “writing bloopers” pass, it reminded me of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books without the cartoons. As I read Emery’s essay I was pulled back into those emotionally difficult days, y hasta ahora, I realized that the whole family was experiencing major changes. My Cold blooded Englishman exercised much self control as he sang a song to our beautiful daughter. My lil boys felt the loneliness of our quiet home. I mourned the loss of two children, not realizing that I would gain so much more. Por su puesto que Emery was right “Change can change you and that can be a good thing! Gracias a Dios for the many blessings that can come through changes.
March 12th is a day to remember on the calendar for me. One of my dearest friends was born on this day, I am so grateful for her in my life. Y luego, my second grandchild was born on March 12, he also took a star position on that day. Hay mas! We also celebrate a special wedding day; Mr. & Mrs. Emmanuel Zepeda, happy anniversary Cita! Added to that beautiful day is the miracle God did for my granddaughter Rachel who was miraculously healed on that day from a dangerous hemangioma.
I had it all planned out to write something else with happy wishes on this post, and I did, pero, it didn’t feel right or good. In the midst of all those celebrations comes the cloud of loss. That day also brought loss for my apa. His second wife died on March 12. After his loss more change then confusion followed. As much as I do not want to go in that direction of mourning, I have remembered its sting.
Quizas la lluvia is adding to my mood, rain does that to me. My trip to Jalisco was beautiful, but also a stark reminder that of my apas 9 siblings, counting him, only 4 were with us still. Seeing my dad’s youngest sister at 79 years of age and his 93 year old little brother brought such sadness. Especialmente when he said “My brother was 96 years old when he left? Then I’ve only got 3 years left” She had commented “Ya nos estamos acabando” We are being finished off.
Looking through my journal I read about my caregiving days with my apa. It is with different eyes that I read those pages. I think I feel some guilt for feeling all that I felt.
This page in my journal, dated October 26, 2019, arrested me as I remembered the turmoil of that season..
My Journal Page
10.26.19 Sat. Night
Maggie’s (this was one of his other caregivers) gone and I’m back on duty 😶 Lord I don’t know how to articulate what I’m feeling. Isn’t taking care of someone supposed to be to make them better? But instead, taking care of dad is about watching him grow weaker.
God I know talking to you should be enough.
God these doctors seem to think or be leading me to accepting Dads death. Is this supposed to happen? God help me please. I feel so helpless. Dads weaker, Dads tired, dads lonely, I’m not making his life better or mine. What did I expect by bringing dad here? (ves, in our attempts to help him and us, we had started to bring him to our home every month for two weeks, then back to his home. This only brought anxiety and confusion to him. When he was permanently in our home he knew it wasn’t his house, everyday that we helped him dress, he expected that it was the day he was going home)
In my mind I thought maybe that he would find peace. I expected that salvation (ves I was praying for him to repent of his sin and ask Jesus to be Lord of his life) was gonna have him rejoice and be glad.
He’s not well, he’s not happy
I’m tired, maybe that’s what all this emotion is about?
God I wouldn’t want my kids taking care of me like this, my poor dad, so humiliating. What is the right thing?
The man he was is gone, maybe in a certain way that’s good?
I’m tired of having strangers in my home
I’m tired of feeling achy
God I feel such anxiety.
That was rough. The journaling did help and it helped now, but so did talking with my sister. Lately I have been feeling a lot of emotion since I went to visit my apa’s siblings and his pueblo. It’s been a roller coaster, feeling high on the privilege that I was able to go to Jalisco, see the deserted little town of El Amparo. Y de repente, crashing down into loss, as I see his siblings also very old and frail. I realize again that mourning has no time table. For the most part the pain of loss does lessen with time, but triggers go off when you least expect it. Al fin de cuentas, I am glad me and my sis were with my apa when he needed us most. I am also glad to celebrate grandchildren, birthdays and wedding days with miracles. Thank you Jesus that you are always with us.
El otro dia, my friend who is also an abuela, was wearing a t-shirt that said “Never Fear! Nonna is here” I loved it! Probably because it resonated with me. Somehow we abuelas always make a way to help our kids when we are able to. Pero ni se diga! For our grandkids we jump, run and maybe even speed up to help them, porque sera?
Tuesday morning I received a text from my son. A text from my children first thing in the morning usually puts me on red alert. He needed help, mi nieta needed help. Por supuesto that I was available to help.
I left my cozy empty nest and went to help my daughter in law in her very full nest. It has been 20 years since I’ve had the daily life of raising little children and when I’m called to “mothering” like this, I’m shocked at the hard work it is.
Here’s what my Tuesday To The Rescue looked like:
Denise walked out with Mari and closed the door behind her. Twilight Zone music is needed as we walk through this day.
Uriah, my 1 year old nietecito had been awake for some time and he was hungry. In my opinion, mothers have a supernatural gift of interpretation. Denise, his mama deciphered through his grunts and cries. She not only discovered that he was hungry, but he did not want a cold breakfast, his gibberish screamed clearly “I want a hot meal!” Before she left Denise suggested that I make him a “huevito con wieny” She was sure that he was asking for a scrambled eggs mixed with a fried cut up hotdog. By this point his littlest big sister Rachel was up, gracias a Dios! Pero, she was too concerned about her loose tooth to pay attention to Uriah. He was demanding and protesting by throwing the dry cereal and drink off his high chair table. The mess had only just begun.
I managed to cook up the hot meal, without too much damage to my nerves. Adevina what he did with “his ordered breakfast”…. Asi es. I needed to stop and take a deep breath. Rachel managed to eat her serving of breakfast despite her hanging bottom tooth. Y ahora, enter Nevaeh, aka Ve, pronounced Vey. Are you still tracking? Because the morning had only just begun. Ve also had a loose tooth and a worried face. I served her breakfast, but she wasn’t quite ready for it.
Uriah was done, or maybe he was undone? I couldn’t tell if he had actually eaten, since most of his breakfast was on the floor, but he was moving to the next thing. And wanted off his high chair. De repente it was school time. Homeschoolers don’t necessarily have to get dressed right away. It does avoid at least one morning calamity, especialmente with 3 girls trying to get dressed for school each morning. In homeschooling, they can workat their desk in piyamas. Except that Ve said she preferred to wear a dress while school was in session because she noticed, (I peered into the screen) that some of the other little girls were wearing dresses, she had to hurry. I wasn’t prepared, pero gracias a Dios that Ve was on it. She came out in her dress ready for school. I guess it didn’t matter that her hair was messy. She quickly helped Rachel log on to her bible lesson, it was the first order of business for her. y luego I had the privilege of hearing Nevaeh recite the pledge of allegiance to the United States of America. It was music to my ears.
With their headsets on, they had settled into their routine, Uriah’s clatter and clamor didn’t bother or distract them too much. He seemed to be listening to their recitals and interaction, going back and forth between the girls. Three year old Jeremiah rose from his slumber groggy and wet. Since he’s still in potty training mode his overnight diaper needed to come off and he was handling it, “very nice Jejo go through it in the trash” Then he stuck both legs into the same leg opening of his chonies, “D’ma, Dma can you help me? He was stuck in his underwear. Rachel needed help with her worksheet and Uriah wanted something, it sounded like he wanted breakfast again?!
I did it! I got Jeremiah’s underpants on him, helped Rachel, quieted Uriah, caught my breath and then…. Everyone was hungry again. Back to the kitchen. Round and round we went. We played outside. Nevaeh coordinated a nice quesadilla and orange wedges lunch which I served. I cleaned up the kitchen, worked on more school work, worked on my blog, asi es, I managed to squeeze in some writing. Did I mention that the puppy, Darius? Pues, he believes he’s the real baby of the family and was seeking my attention too! Y pues he got it. He got in trouble with me for interrupting my game with Jeremiah; “Iron Man and his lady friends.” Pobrecito, he didn’t know you don’t interrupt ama with a wet nose to the face, especially when she’s focused on her role play.
Y ahora, now that I’ve recovered, le doy gracias a Dios for my life. Technically I would write my gratitude list in my gratitude dairy but I think it fits right on this page.
Primero, gracias a Dios that everyone was well, that the urgent doctor visit wasn’t so urgent after all.
Luego, I realize that I’m still living that “stay at home and raise my kids life” only now I’m available for my nietos. Thanks to my covering; Benjamin Greene, who has taken good care of us, his family for 34 years.
Tambien, gracias a Dios for my daughter in law, God bless her and give her wisdom and strength to teach, influence and pray my grandchildren into God’s Kingdom.
Y finalmente, I am grateful for my grandchildren, they add so much sugar and spice to my life. Nevaeh was a wonderful little helper, and all the others were little angels of course. My son Jonathan says that they’ve got me whupped!” Hijole!
You know you’re a grandparent when you laugh when your grandkids do the same things that made you so angry when your kids did them.” – author unknown
Deja, te platico about my Empty Nest experience, in case I haven’t already. Wikipedia describes it as “a feeling of grief and loneliness” When my first born was “muy hombrecito” and it was time for him to move at 19 years old, my heart felt like something was torn out of it. Que feo! That brick in my heart was heavy. I cried silently and wore death on my countenance, hijole! It hurt so much. Then just as soon as I had recovered, que pasa? Both of my young adult children choose to get married, one right after the other, a week apart. I still had two more boys at home, shouldn’t I have been too busy to feel that Empty Nest Syndrome so intensely? It was muy dramatico, In a very latina fashion. Now another son is married and moved out and the youngest is grown and spreading his wings. Pero gracias a Dios, I have overcome and adjusted.
Those things I dreaded have been conquered!
Benefits of and Empty Nest
A quiet house- it took a minute to get used to it, the chatter at the dinner table I do miss at times, but a quiet house can be so restful.
No worries about a babysitter- We come and go, not a bit anxious about how the kids are doing. Well maybe a little bit for Thomas still, but he doesn’t need a babysitter anymore.
Housework is cut in half! Or less, it’s easier to keep it up.
Going out on a date is so much easier-now. just about finding a free night or making a slot in our busy schedule. I do wonder how it is that we continue to be so busy with no kids filling our schedule?
And last but definitely not least is that after 34 years of marriage and 4 raising kids, we want to be friends and enjoy one another’s company. We are relearning each other and enjoying this phase while at same time totally enjoying our adult kids and our grandkids.
We, Ama and Apa have embraced the Empty Nesters life. Kids and grandkids visit then go home. Every few days we gear up because our Empty Nest gets full of adult children and grandchildren and sometimes Ben and I feel like we’ve gone through the “drain & spin” cycle of our washer. During those visits, I’ve got 3 hats on; mom, ama and hostess! It gets crazy to maneuver through the chatter and make sense of all that’s going on. When we recover with a moment of silence, sometimes lasting up to four days, we wonder where everyone is at why haven’t they come over?
Yesterday the grandkids visited us. It was very exciting. Each one of my nietas came loaded with a backpack and large drinking water bottle. Mari, the oldest, was also carrying a grocery bag full of goodies. While they were diligently distributing their hugs, first Ama then Apa, I asked “Wow! Are you moving in?” Nope! They were just visiting, but they came prepared because at amas house there are no toys anymore and they weren’t sure if I was gonna have enough food for their little army. A disclaimer is needed, I am always prepared or quickly get prepared when it comes to offering food, I wouldn’t be a true latina otherwise! As for their backpack full of things to do, asi es! I got rid of the toybox! Although they constantly leave some of their toy accessories behind. Our quiet house exploded in noise and activity. “Ama what are we going to eat? Ama look what I can do! Ama what are we going to do? Let me tell you the funny thing that happened to us.” Uriah the baby woke up cranky and hungry. Ama and Apa had barely fastened on seatbelts! We’d been out of town for a couple weeks, so it was a whirlwind evening. I missed them and the good conversation I get with my daughter in law. Thomas, our last one still at home, who is not too adjusted to our quiet house, was loving the chaos.
Gracias a Dios that I have the best of both worlds. I love being Ama and I love quiet days, with some conversation and alone time with my flaco.
All this wedding activity stirred me up for a love story. I went back and pulled up a story I pieced together a few years ago from the fragment pieces of information that my apa and ama had shared through the years. One day as I was feeling muy romantica I asked my father “How did you meet my Ama?” He dropped this into my brain and heart:
“En la Fiesta del Señor, le ofrecí una flor ye ella la acepto, y alli empezo” I melted with anxious desire to know more. When you offered that flower, who was she with? What’s La Fiesta Del Señor? What was she wearing? Y muchas mas preguntas, details that a girl needs to have. This story is grounded in facts but does have plenty of embellishments to tie it all in. I can only imagine the hardship they experienced trying to make ends meet and the pain my ama suffered when dad came to America leaving her and the baby. I filled in the gaps to write their story.
Maria ran inside breathless and Angel came zooming in behind her, bending down she lifted him up, Ugh! He was getting so big, nuzzling him, while she looked over at her husband’s picture on the small table she whispered “He’s coming home baby, Apa viene a casa.” She missed him so much, but Angel wasn’t affected by her news, he didn’t know the man in the picture. It was another reality that pointed to their “separate lives” marriage. She studied his handsome face and lean body, standing tall in his Levi Strauss jeans and cowboy hat, looking tan Americano. It seemed like an eternity since he had left, worrying that he wouldn’t come back. She had spent too many days angry with her husband for leaving, but today, despite her fears, and his obvious change, she embraced the yearning she felt for him and allowed herself to remember how wonderful his full lips felt on her. She hugged her toddler tight, and whispered “you’re going to love your Apa” trying to stop the memory of the day he had left.
“No llores”. He hated her tears.
“Chuy, We talked about this. I need to feed my family and I need money to do that. I must go. En el otro lado, I’ll make lots of money and then come home quickly, before you know it!”
“Por favor no te vayas. Think of your hijo” Maria clung to him, hoping that duty to his son would keep him home with her.
“I’m not leaving you like that! Comprendeme, I need to go? My mother will help you with the baby” He pulled her close.
“You don’t have to leave Manuel, I will work”
He stiffened at her words and pulled her away from him.
“You work too hard, too long, too much. Look at you, you’re pale, you’re too thin, and the dark circles under your eyes accuse me. What kind of a man am I to allow this?
“Oh, I see.” She hugged herself trying to hide her unattractiveness from him.
“I should have left a long time ago, then I would already be back with plenty of dólares to sustain us. I’ll send money, I promise you will not have to work so hard.”
“No Manuel, don’t leave. I promise to take better care of myself. You’ll have better eyes for me, please don’t leave. I don’t care if everyone else is living like this. I hate seeing families separate! Wives are forgotten while husbands go off to chase dolares and who knows what else!”
“I’ll return quickly, te lo prometo” He reached for her but she turned and ran to the bathroom. His promise of a quick return pierced her while she vomited her breakfast and crumbled to the floor, holding her abdomen. Their family was growing and he was leaving. Receiving a letter meant his prolonged stay, yet not receiving a letter provoked such worry in her. What if he got ill? What if he decided not to come home?
I hope you and Angel are well. I am now situated in a small room in Mexicali, Baja California, tomorrow I will look for more work on the other side, the gringos are always looking for strong help so it has been easy to get work and make money. There is plenty of work, I’ll be able to make a lot of money. Hace mucho calor! The heat is almost unbearable, pero me aguanto! knowing that you and Angel need me I will endure this inferno. The money I’ve sent should cover all the household expenses for a while. Como esta mi hijo? Tell him that I love him, saludos a tu familia.
Que Dios te bendiga, te lo desea
At first she had been too angry to tell him about the pregnancy. After the morning sickness had passed, she was well and so was their son. Life didn’t change much for Angel, he had quickly adopted her oldest brother; Chino as his dad and life was peachy for him. Gracias a Dios that she had him to fill her days. The baby safely grew in her womb and she yearned for her husband. She reminded herself often “He said he would come back” Maybe, telling him about the second baby would prompt him to return quickly and be with her when her time came. She wrote him a letter hoping it would arrive quickly, there wasn’t much time.
Her heart was broken when she went into labor, she received a letter and more money to sustain them comfortably, but no mention of the baby. Alone she welcomed their second son and called him Arturo.
Eventually a letter did reach him in the Sierra Nevada mountains. His patron needed a sheep herder and he needed to keep working. A numbingly cold and lonely job, just him, the horse, Kazam the dog and the sheep in the cold outdoors. The patron had brought supplies and mail, he was ready for news from home. A letter from his wife and mother, good news he hoped. Que?! “Manuel estoy embarazada” Maria wrote that she was pregnant, But his mother had said in her letter “El niño y Chuy are just fine but come as soon as you’re able” Un hijo?!
“Apa, Apa” Angel clapped his chubby hands “Tío, mi apa!” Angels enthusiasm brought her back, “No, baby, your uncle is not your daddy. Your daddy is coming back from El Norte very soon, maybe today you’ll meet him again” she pressed on her breast as they filled with milk, “He’s coming back! And you and your baby brother will have apa home!” Angel laughed as she twirled him around, “Our family will be together again, everyone will see that we were not abandoned. She stopped abruptly in front of her broken mirror “Wow! I’ve changed so much too”
She put her son down and touched her head, so much of her hair had fallen out during her pregnancy. Her body was still flabby from her labor and delivery. her skin pale from lack of sleep, she wondered what Manuel would think of her now. She pulled on her face, peering into the mirror piece “ aayy! que fea estoy. Ugly!” She accused the image just as Arturo wailed for his lunch, her hands flew to her breast, she winced at how hard they got if she waited too long to nurse the baby. She hesitated, looking again into her broken mirror, if Manuel walked in right now, he would notice her full rounded breast, maybe that wasn’t so bad. Beauty would have to wait again, her boys were hungry. The baby wailed demanding to be nursed and Angel pulled on her skirt, asking for a taco, he too was hungry. Manuel was coming soon and she had to do something about herself, she said to the mirror piece ”I’ll be back and maybe you’ll help me see the areas I can work on.” She ran to get a tortilla for Angel and then picked up her screaming baby. While the baby gurgled at her breast she sighed ready to end this separation and the anxiety it produced.
She remembered her mother in-laws inability to understand her. It didn’t matter that young wives and their babies were being abandoned at epidemic proportions, while young husbands imagined streets paved with dolares. Did Manuels mother think her anxieties were unfounded? Dona Rosario was confident that her son would be loyal to his family and return as soon as he was able. It was Marias job to care for the boys and make a nice home for them with his money. She hated when Maria wasted money, and the mirror had been a waste.
“Why do you need a mirror Maria? You need to be wise with the money my son sends you.” “Pero, Doña Rosario, how am I supposed to keep myself beautiful for your son if I can’t see what I look like? “No buts Maria, don’t waste money, you need to worry more about Angel and the baby that will be here soon” “No señora I need it so that if Manuel returns I will have maintained myself” She was careful all the way home, then Angel raced out to meet her and when the mirror slipped to the ground it broke in two pieces, with no time to regret it, she swooped her toddler up and took him inside so she could pick up her mirrors.
She looked into the mirror as she burped her baby, “Doña Rosario was right, Manuel is coming home and you, Mirror Mirror you really didn’t help, but you certainly taunted me every time you pointed out how unraveled I’ve been. She adjusted her dress and planted a kiss on Arturo’s cheek.
She got busy with the meager meal, glad that soon they would eat more than frijoles, she was tired of beans. She poured the last of the lard into the hot pan and waited for it to get hot then poured the beans into it. They sizzled then splattered, spitting on to her cheek, “Owww!” she hissed and turned to her mirror piece and it seemed to laugh at her with her red blotchy cheek. She sighed and was glad when her toddler took the plate of beans with such gusto, as if she had served him a steaming hot bowl of pozole, the hominy chicken soup was his favorite. She smiled and hoped that there would be enough tortillas to satisfy her growing boy. She knew Manuel had not left her to chase a dream, but to take care of them. When Manuel came they had too much business to attend to, her appearance shouldn’t matter now, but again she glanced in the mirror piece “Oh no! Now I’ll have a scar! She should get rid of that accusing glass! Tears of anxiety squeezed from her eyes as much as she was determined not to cry over such vanities. Worry marked her face as Angel ran to her and asked “Mama? Coco?” And reached up for her. “Si, Angel, just a little owie” she hugged him as a tear rolled down her face, Manuel was coming home, he promised.
Manuel walked in, quietly watching his wife and son. Angel looked up and snapped “NO! Swinging at the stranger as he clung to his mother. “Amor, que te pasa?” Maria looked up wondering what was wrong as her son’s anxiety accelerated “No, no!” Maria swung around and there stood her beautiful husband, he looked like a dark American under his cowboy hat, his blue jeans and boots. She shrunk back anxious, noticing the American in him and his presence reminded her that she was quite undone. While Angel swung to protect his mother from the stranger she slowly took in how good he looked. Manuel reached for the screaming toddler, murmuring his name. “Angel, Mi hijo” Angel screamed in terror “Amaaa!” Maria smiled, “Ya mi amor, ya. There There” She said between tears, “Es tu papa” Manuel quickly closed the gap and embraced them both. There in his arms Maria let the tears of relief roll down her cheeks, slumping her shoulders, she allowed Manuel to take care of his family.
I was having a quiet moment with my daughter, por supuesto que we were talking about very important matters, when her ears perked up, I could see in her face that she was making a calculation about something in her head. Then as I heard my grandbaby crying, her youngest son who’s not so baby, she put her attention back to our conversation. I had already put on my “Ama al rescate” cape. I was ready to rescue him. I said “Don’t you hear?” She calmly responded “yes, but I can tell he’s not hurt, they’ll work it out” A pos si! I’d forgotten that a mother can recognize and distinguish the different alarms her child sounds. And usually she knows when to run to him, or when he’s safe and he must figure it out. Hijole! I was all tangled up in my “rescue cape” Don’t get me wrong, I know moms (me) who have missed the cry for help or were too slow, but God helped us. Thankfully, in todays story, my Ama arrived to pull Fernando out of his mess!
The American Dream
Para mi familia, coming to “El Norte” was a slow process that began in Mexicali Baja California, a border city. This is where many other immigrants began their pursuit of the “American Dream. My apa worked across the border and my ama probably worked harder at taking care of their growing family. They went to live in a colonia where housing and plumbing wasn’t very personal and definitely not cozy. The need for housing intensified as people were arriving. One “solution” to the growing population and daily needs was to build shared outhouses in the colonia. Everything in my sheltered inexperienced mind is grappling with the idea of leaving my house to use the bathroom. Pero pues, I’m trying to understand the logic behind this solucion. Gracias a Dios, that children are different. They’re resilient, they see most things as adventures.
Un dia, while my ama was busy, the kids were out playing. Fernando was out in the colonia playing ball with his friends, he doesn’t remember if he was playing soccer, but he was hard at play. Y de repente! That’s how it is with latinos, every story has an “all of a sudden!” element. They all noticed the BIG hole in the ground and curiosity got a hold of them. After having raised three boys myself, I can attest to the fact that boys like to take curiosity to another level! After some speculation they concluded that the ollo was for the new outhouse that was coming soon. They peered into it, they sized it up and one another and put out the challenge. “Who can get out of the ollo?” They all decided they could easily, no problem. Right here, I’ll embellish Fernandos story, because he doesn’t remember, and I have faced 3 little boys who ALWAYS did everything better and faster. Is it possible that Chapparro was too eager to top all the other boys? Por supuesto que si! And before he knew it, they were all daring him to prove it. He faced that hole and the dare, I can only imagine how much time he took ruminating about the act of the big jump. For sure the voices of his friends echoed in his mind. “You can’t do it” “Tienes miedo” and then, he was in the hole. When he looked up, his friends were gone and he was stuck. A hole that was all of a sudden an insurmountable height, maybe five feet high, he was about 3 ft high himself. Panic struck him as he realized that he couldn’t get out, forever trapped in the newly dug outhouse hole. It took him no time at all to sound his alarm. “Ama! Ama!” No response. Panic gripped him and his voice went up a notch “Ama! Ama!” and the tears gushed as he cried “Amaaa! Amaaa!” The ollo was closing in on him as he screamed for ama. And then she was there, relief flooded him.
The Board of Education
When he was out of the hole, his relief lasted a moment because he had to face ama and answer the questions. “Porque hiciste eso?” She would never understand his need to prove himself, but he would have to learn quickly that he must stay away from dangerous scenarios. And for that short quick lesson the ‘board of education’ was needed. Fernando says that one of his grade school teachers referred to the paddle for disciplining like this. Ya se, this is a sensitive topic, so I’m just sharing facts, ama spanked him as needed, y pues all of her children felt the “board of education” as needed. She didn’t beat or abuse him, she loved him. The lesson of not following the crowd, or listening to the voices of foolishness would be ongoing lessons that everyone faces.
Gracias a Dios that my ama learned how to discern those different cries we let out as we experienced life and came to our rescue, aid or encouragement as needed. It’s pretty special to watch a mom in action when her child cries out. I have a beautiful friend who sometimes will hear her kids cry and doesn’t follow the crowd of moms who sometimes apapachan, you know hover and immediately pull their child out of their distress, without giving him/her a chance to work things out and learn their own boundaries and establish them. This fiesty latina, will hear and recognize their need and choose not to be anxious for them.
Whether or not a mother hovers about and runs to every cry, or picks and chooses which cry is a genuine emergency, the main thing is that a mother hears her child’s cries.
It turns out it’s true that mourning is a winding path and not a straight line. We experienced a busy April and May, up and down and all around! Then things quieted down, ya saben, a calm before the storm of wedding planning pelts us. A quiet house is rare for the Greene home, but we’ve had a couple of days of it, bien nice! Pero, every time I slow down, even just a little bit, I start looking back, wrapping up all the events in sweet memories, but somewhere along that wrapping I feel the absence of my loved ones. I get emotional and the void in my life accuses me. If Patty were here, she’d approve of Emery’s choice. My apa wouldn’t be able to make the long trip for the wedding. Y mi ama? What would she say about my hijos? Lupe, my big sister, she’d scare Emery’s girl with her piercing Zepeda gaze.
It all started on Memorial Day when I counted my amas, 33rd year gone to her rest. Then, that night I read a blog about caregiving, y ahora I was looking for a picture and I got caught up rereading a string of family emails about my apas care. Tengan paciencia, I need to go through this process, my therapy, I went back to a time when my apa was a young man of 90.
Following In His Grandfather’s Steps
(This was when my apa was still able to live in his own home with caregivers)
It was my turn to take Dad to the doctor for his neurology visit. I drove into town early and thought that I would pull him out of his adult care program early and go have a treat. I had to wait until his full four hours were complete, the program was not going to bend the rules for Don Manuel! Maybe their funding was on the line? No choice but to wait. When my apa saw me, he knew the day was over. The ‘junta’ was over and his work was done, ‘la mesa directiva’ had made no decisions in that meeting. Many times he was frustrated with that “board of directors” for wasting his time in these meetings. You see, every weekday when my apa was picked up for his adult care program, he believed that he was going to work. A day full of meetings, like when he was a young man in 1970 working for a program called Campesinos Unidos. Asi es, for a short time my apa didn’t work out in the fields.
He was ready to leave, but we had to wait, so we made small talk. I had to keep redirecting him. He asked about my family, and his usual focus was, “Y tu hija? Valentina, ¿Ya se caso?” For some time dad had been calling my daughter Daniella, Valentina. She must have looked like a Valentina to him, so I quit correcting him. Back to Daniella’s marital status. “Si Apa ya va a cumplir 3 años de casada.”“Como? Cuando?” He was as always very shocked to hear the news that she had already been married for a short while. I asked about his day and the response was usually, “The director stood up there and talked and talked, but I didn’t know what he was getting at” Then, “Y tu hija, como esta? Ya se caso?” This time, although he was shocked at my answer, he remembered, and reminded me very apologetically that he wasn’t remembering things very well anymore. That’s when he asked again why he was going to the doctor. I explained his dementia issue. He was diagnosed with short term memory loss, the new memories were lost immediately. However, my sister and I suspected that his memory loss was very selective. I explained that his struggle with memory loss might be helped with medication. Suddenly he remembered his grand- father who lived to be 101 and also suffered from dementia.
Young Manuel with His Abuelo
His grand-father was old and frail, housebound, confused about his past and present. He lived in the past. One day as his abuelo looked out the window he saw the sky heavy with rain clouds. Manuel knew that it was a beautiful clear day, blue skies and sunshine. He listened as his grand-father worried out loud about the dark heavy rain clouds. He turned to him and said “those clouds are heavy with rain, it looks like an ugly storm coming in.” Manuel knew his grand-father was confused and said nothing, it happened often. Gone was his strong grandfather who had sat erect on his horse and gave orders.
Then Dad paused and looked at me, “It looks like I might be taking after him.” I said, “Quizas, since you’ve only got 11 years before you’re 101!” Again, shock registered in his voice, “Que tan Viejo estoy?! He didn’t remember that he was 90, he was sticking to 80. Interestingly enough, it was that year that he officially entered the ‘needing care and supervision” stage of his life. All I could do was ask God to hold back that dementia as much as possible. As I situated him into the car to go to the doctor, he casually asked “Y tu hija, Valentina? Como esta?”
At The Appointment:
Sitting at the doctor’s office was a sad unveiling. It was crowded. Chairs too close to each other, before covid of course, when all the world stood paralyzed. Men, women, young and old people all with some kind of nerve damage or muscle injuries, looking pained, angry and entirely restless. Hijole! I cringed at what I saw, heard and imagined. Most of them were there just for refills, they needed the temporary relief from the pain. Dad wasn’t in pain, why was I there anyway? And as if dad heard my thoughts he asked “Porque estamos aqui?”
The appointment was to see the much demanded neurologist in Imperial Valley, in which I hoped the evaluation would determine a solution, a goal… something. After an hour of waiting, dad was called. We walked slowly to an examining room, when we sat down, my apa was suddenly clear minded and present. As we waited for the doctor to enter, he asked if he was sick? He wanted to know why we were with “this” type of doctor. He looked at me knowingly, “estoy loco.” That’s when the nurse practitioner stepped in, the doctor wasn’t available. He greeted us, shaking dad’s hand, and both men stared at each other.
Nurse: ¿Cómo está señor Zepeda?
Apa: Bien, con un poco de dolor en la nuca.
He was always fine except for the pain in the back of the neck which was his usual complaint. The nurse looked at the back of his neck, determined that it was probably arthritis.
Nurse: What is your name and birthdate?
I guess if he knew those answers he must be fine verdad? Really, a long term memory, ingrained into him after 90 years.
Apa: Manuel Zepeda Solano, 12-15-24.
He stared at the doctor, dismissing him with his eyes. The nurse looked at me.
Nurse: Ok, I’ll write his prescription for a refill, doesn’t seem like there’s any changes. Que?!Por supuesto que things were changing! Why were we there? Was the medication helping? How could we help him? And us. When we got in the car dad pulled out the $5 that was always in his wallet and said “Vamos a una nieve.” So we went for an ice cream and I enjoyed hearing more about my strong bis abuelo, Solano.
Hijole! I do miss my sisters and my parents, I don’t know when I’ll see them again. It is my prayer and hope for that reunion. Pero mientras, it helps to pull out the memories and enjoy la familia I have here on earth.
I’m a mother in-law “in waiting”. And as much as I don’t want it to be an anxious feeling, it is. Mi hijo, found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Heavy sigh, cómo van a cambiar las cosas. Change is good Rosie. Sabes? They’re a good looking couple. She captured his heart and they are now an engaged couple
.…Y ahora que? Well, I’ve got my ticket to board that wedding planning roller coaster ride, suddenly, time is upon us. When they give the green light for all of us to jump in and help plan, we will. Apurate hijo! Ben said, “Wow! It’s been 10 years since our last weddings” Hijole!
When You Know That You Know
Once a couple” knows,” you would think that everyone would just smoothly adjust to their sweet love and choices. Usually a couple gets giddy with fairy tales happily ever after dreams and they walk into their “revelation” expecting everyone to come for the ride. Pero pues, it’s a mixture of emotions for anyone securely connected. Emotions need to be worked out and checked as the couple prepares for their destiny.
While I’m waiting for my wedding planning assignements, come with me as I walk through some days of my early engagement days, before the wedding planning:
Ben and I got engaged and went to share the wonderful news with my parents. No wedding plans in mind, just the realization that we would always be one. “Hijole!” My apa said to my gringo fiancee, as he put our arms next to each other “ Do you see what color she is?” I had already crossed that hurdle. It was a pretty hard hurdle to jump, es que, I was nervous. I was scared to death about marrying outside of mi gente, but after 2 years of praying and my Benjamin waiting somewhat patiently, I knew that I knew that God was for a Greene/Zepeda union so I said yes, yes, yes to his proposal. My apa’s question made me nervous but Ben, the man of few words, said “Yes, I do and I like it.” My apa watched us through the years and saw the steady man his son in-law was and he was relieved that our skin color truly didn’t matter to either of us.
In that same visit, I look back and thank God for mi ama, who didn’t ask what the plan was, who didn’t fret just then about my wedding day. Primero, she needed to see how this young man would handle a strong Latina woman. She did as was her custom, and invited him to the table for a meal and when Ben sat down to eat she served him. He enjoyed his food, and she watched as she heated las tortillas. Maybe he was alright, at least he knew not to reject her. She offered seconds, and my flaco hungrily said yes! And that was enough, my ama liked my gringo.
For most of our engagement I was alone. Esperate! Ben didn’t ask me to marry him and ignore me. Es que, he was also committed to the U.S. Navy, so my sailor went out to sea. As a newly engaged girl I was a mess! Lonely for my Benjamin and not sure what direction to go as far as getting ready for my wedding day. My maid of honor set me straight when she could no longer watch me go in circles. Thank God for maid of honors, they are your confidants, your helpers, your doers in that busy season.
Ben had already told his mother about his Mexican-American girlfriend, so very soon after we were engaged and I was sad about Ben being away, I received a letter from my future suegra. My husband takes after her, he displays little, muy poquita emoción! Her letter calmly welcomed me into her family and she said she looked forward to meeting me! Hijole! How do you respond to that? All kinds of questions came up in my head. What would she think? Did she know, like really know that I was brown? Ben had asked me if I would write a letter to her and he also asked if I would send a picture of myself! But I hadn’t, I just couldn’t, then I got her letter. Now I had to respond. I needed to rush and get a picture taken. In those days, we had to go to the photo studio, so Colleen, my bestie, my maid of honor suggested that I wear a nice bright shirt, a pink one! She assured me that it complimented my nice coloring. Que?! Sheesh, I had it all wrong then.
I got through the very difficult first letter just in time to start my wedding planning and started a nice letter writing friendship with my suegra to be.
En Conclusion: As I’m remembering these days of my engagement, I think of Emerys sweet girl and pray that God will help me to be a blessing to her now, before the wedding day. Y que Dios me los bendiga as they plan, on that day and all the days of their marriage journey.
My last baby is 19 this week. I suppose he’s not a baby anymore. My thoughts about him have provoked me to write this post. Does this mean that I must turn in my mothering card? Officially, he’s been an adult for already a year. Who decides such official classifications anyway? And what different children God gives us, verdad? Our kids have definite traces of their parents and sometimes that pleases me, and other times I cringe! I definitely play favorites with my children. My favorite firstborn, my favorite daughter, my favorite middle child and my favorite last baby. They truly are my favorites.
Wait on God
I’ve written about my pregnancies and about being muy vieja to have another baby. Pregnant at 36! Hijole! After Thomas I would never experience pregnancy again. I ached at the closing of that chapter of our lives. When I experienced baby fever, no amount of Tylenol could remedy that ill. When I felt the phantom baby kicks, regret would flood my spirit, I yearned to be pregnant again. It is one of those decisions, that if I could “do over” with Ben again, I would wait on God and his timing. When a young wife asks me about permanent birth control, she usually is tired and weary with little toddlers at her feet. I share my mourning time and encourage her to wait, time changes everything.
I do thank God often for the opportunity to carry my four children, and as for my last child, his arrival carried a lot of weight.
I was moving right along with living. More than 13 years of friendship with Jesus, 10 years of marriage, 3 kids, not just ordinary kids, mis hijos. Life was good and I said something along those lines to Ben as we celebrated our 10th anniversary. I remember feeling or noticing something sinister as those joyful words came out, ya se, dramatica!Pero, It’s true, something didn’t sit right as we entered our 2nd decade of life together.
Storms of Life
One day, as I was cleaning my house, I was hit with one of those trials in life that can rock your world. A time of tribulation and testing we’re coming my way. I was dumbfounded. Impossible, I thought, I’m a child of God. Deep pain couldn’t reach me, right? For this Southern California girl it was like a long, cold and harsh winter season, I declare in a muy exagerada fashion that I did not think I would survive the trials and tests of my life. Right here I’m feeling the chuckle of my dear friends who experienced life with me during these years. They knew God was right there with me.
It took some time, but after many days, when the sun began to shine again, our hearts began healing. Oh what glorious moments I felt as the sun melted off the ice cold days.
Our small family of 5 was settling down. I was getting into my routine. My first last baby was gonna go to school in just another year, and I hung on to this last baby for as long as I could. Then, as I saw the end of busy toddler days I considered planning some projects in the house. I was busy with three young kids; 1 toddler, 2 school age. Lunches, school work, volunteering, housework, ministry, ocupadisma!
When I began to slow down and had to sleep in the middle of my day I chalked it up to my age. Then it was the changes in the weather. Maybe a summer cold? Hormonas? By the time I faced reality, it was unreal! Pregnant at 36! A terrific time I had on that roller coaster of shock! Denial! No puede ser! I was so consumed by negative thoughts that I let them rob me of the wonder a momma feels when she knows a little life is growing in her womb.
I was afraid. Afraid to be criticized for having too many kids. Quizas miama had felt that way? I was her eight baby. I was afraid that I was too old, should a woman my age be having a baby? I wonder if anyone told my ama that she was too old to be having a baby at 40, then another at 41? I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to get the weight off. I already had 3 pregnancies and gained 50 lbs each time, hijole!
Getting weight off me has never been easy and I dreaded it. Somewhere out there I had heard that when women passed 35, losing weight was a losing battle! Now I’m hearing that same line for when we turn 50. Mentiras!
Worst of all, was the miedo I felt, an inexplicable dread that this 4th child at this stage of life would snatch away the peace that had just come to us. That was it! Nunca mas! No more babies, no more pregnancies. Although it wasn’t my decision alone, Ben was kind of in that same mindset; we were done.
There I was carrying our 4th baby and as the “woes” of 1st trimester dissipated, thankfully, so did the blues and by the time I entered the 2nd trimester, I was ready to share the news with our kids, then the rest of our world. We did get interesting and unexpected reactions. The kids were surprised, but it wasn’t a big deal to them. Someone said “What? Another baby? Si! Y gracias a Dios! It felt good to honestly be able to thank God for my baby. Someone else asked “How old are you?” Young enough to have a baby.
Every once in a while, the question was “is this your last baby?” The more we answered that question, the more we convinced ourselves that this was our last baby, but we dreaded the idea that we had to do something extra, something permanent to stop a pregnancy from ever happening for us again.
Most people around us congratulated us. Asi es, felicidades! Our small family was growing.
Making final decisions
As our baby grew, I think we both enjoyed this gestation period. I was watchful of my eating and exercise and he made sure to move about in his cozy womb. Everything was on schedule, he was a good size. I was winding down, and the only thing left was names and a final decision on permanent birth control.
We couldn’t agree on a girl’s name. I was leaning toward Adriana, he wasn’t leaning that way at all. He wanted a family name, his family. Nancy? Jane? Claro que no! All his kids had his name already! Thank goodness we quickly agreed on a boy’s name. A family name.
There was that question again, “Will you be having more children Mrs Greene?” Should we? Could we? Would we? No, we wouldn’t, we would not have any more children. The decision was made. After labor, delivery and recovery we would do something more.
Labor was something from a textbook or maybe a fairytale. The kind of labor I would have wanted 3 times prior! Contractions began and progressed. I went to the hospital as labor intensified. My water broke, I fully dilated as my little boy worked his way down that birthing slide. I pushed about 15 minutes and woosh! Bienvenido amorcito!
Face to Face
Oh my beautiful baby! What an absolutely incredible experience it is to meet your baby face to face for the first time. I had been talking to him for 6 months already, he already knew my commanding voice, now I was hearing his demands.
Even with my 4th experience it was new and unique and beautiful. I bet my ama cried every time her new baby was placed in her arms, even the 8th and 9th ones.
Had I truly once regretted this baby? No! Oh God forgive me, thank you for giving me the privilege of carrying my baby, Gracias Señor por mi hijo! Our 4th baby’s arrival marked the restoration and blessing that flowed.
Thomas Walter Greene
His name is Thomas Walter. It represents family legacy. My primo Tomas, was my amas own beloved nephew, who himself was generous and kind. I loved the idea of this family name. On Bens side, his ancestor Thomas Rogers had been on the Mayflower ship to the New World and my flaco appreciated what that meant for him. Walter is my Benjamin’s middle name, which was his fathers name and his grandfathers. It means army ruler. Perfecto! Our son can be described as a gentle giant and a go-getter.
Nineteen years later, Thomas Walter, our friendly, people person son has demonstrated what a grateful heart looks like. With this child of mine, saying his complete name doesn’t mean he’s in trouble, it just has a warm ring to it.
Thomas is always quick with a kind greeting and never stingy with his hugs. He truly is genuinely happy to see you, everyone else in our family needs a minute or a cup of coffee before we can be so friendly.
When he knows there’s pain in your life, he wants to offer comfort. If there’s celebrating to do in your name, he’s ready to honor you. When he’s being celebrated, he absolutely loves it and knows how to appreciate it, graciously and joyfully.
Our youngest child grew up trusting his siblings and loving them, he is a loyal little brother and works hard at winning over his nephews and nieces. I could go on for days but suffice to say, that from our last baby we all have gleaned so much.
The Promises of God
Looking back to those days of restoration I see the fingerprints of God as we stayed on course and trusted him. He sheltered us when the storms came, and he strengthened us as our family grew.
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust…” Joel 2:25
This was the promise from scripture that my pastor reminded me of one day at the altar as I prayed.