Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Gift From My Father

Today, Dec. 20, is my birthday I was born many years ago on a cold Monday morning in December. Possibly it was snowing as we lived in Central Texas. Upon hearing that my mother had delivered a little girl, my father was delighted. So happy was he about the new daughter he went to a store and bought me a Shirley Temple doll. Of course I didn't know the story until years later, and by then our bond was a strong one.

My mother, a kind person, and my father, a demanding parent, somehow or other rounded out my life through their different styles of guidance. My mother taught me kindness through example. I knew what Daddy expected of me and I attempted to please him. And I tried to never disappoint him. Right before he died at age sixty-three he told me I had never disappointed him. I thought it an odd statement as I had certainly disappointed myself several times.

Because he attempted to uplift us all by telling us we could accomplish much, I handle moments of sadness or rejection by recalling the positive statements he made to me. Then I remember it is all right and I have another opportunity to succeed.
Often I relied on the memories and the ideas he instilled in me. And that has been one of my anchors.

It's my birthday and I thank God for the parents He placed me with. And I still have the Shirley Temple doll.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Influence of One Man

It was summertime and Janie, a Junior High student, took a job as an aide in a summer school program. The supervisor of the program Mr. Garcia had a meeting of all the aides in a school cafeteria. “I want to know the goal of every single one of you,” he told them. “What do you plan to do with your life?”

Janie raised her hand, “I plan to drop out of school.”

Mr. Garcia looked surprised. She had just been selected to work in an educational setting and she planned to drop out of school. It didn’t make sense. “Why do you want to do that Janie?”

“Just because. School is boring. I like to sew. If I drop out of school, I can sew for a living.”

After the meeting Mr. Garcia sat and conversed with Janie. “I like to sew better than anything else,” she told him.

“Do not quit school. I’ll talk to the counselor at your school so you can get in all the sewing you want.” And he did and Janie stayed in school.

Janie kept working in the summer but by high school she again told Mr. Garcia she was quitting so she could get a fulltime job and earn more money. Mr. Garcia had a summer job at a shoe store. He went to the manager and told him he wanted to quit but wanted the manager to hire an ambitious young woman. Janie started selling shoes in the summers.

Janie graduated from high school and then from college. Mr. Garcia felt so proud. She told me the story and I couldn’t get it out of my mind like a song with a catchy tune. In time Mr. Garcia died and many folks attended his service. I sat there and wondered how many folks at the funeral service were recipients of his advice. One man. An influence that lives on and on.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Travels with Mary

My sister Mary and I have traversed the state of Texas many times. Each time we travel peculiar things happen. The first time I noticed was when we took a trip to the central part of the state. We arrived, ate dinner, watched television, and then settled in for the night, she by going to sleep in her bed immediately while I did my nightly reading in my bed.

After an hour or Mary raised her head from the pillow and, while completely asleep, asked, “How far is it?”

I answered, “We are in Austin in a hotel.”

“But, how far is it,” she demanded to know.

“We arrived in Austin and now we are in bed.”

“But, how far is it?” she asked indignantly this time.

“Twenty miles,” I answered.

Surprisingly enough she went right back to sleep and I went back to reading my John Grisham book, although I must admit, at that moment, our hotel room seemed more interesting than whatever John Grisham offered. The next day she remembered nothing.

On another trip to Austin Mary slipped on her nightgown immediately after dinner while I, still fully dressed, read in my bed. A ringing occurred and it wasn’t the telephone. “What is that?” I asked.

“A fire alarm.”

I spoke to my sister, “Let’s go. This might be a real fire.”

“I’ve got to get dressed.” She explained.

“Just throw on a sweater or raincoat. Nobody cares.”

She comments, “I need my shoes.”

“You don’t need shoes,” I say.

Another bell rings and my sister states, “That means it was just a false alarm. You see there was no need to get excited.”

Recently we took a trip to Houston in a new car. On our way back Mary says, “Don’t forget to remind me to buy gas.” I thought only of the delicious barbeque restaurant in Wharton.


After we ate our barbeque we drove on. Before long we passed Victoria and entered a long, lonely stretch in which no businesses of any kind can be found. Several miles later a small buzzer went off. “Ohhhh,” we both groaned remembering the gas we needed.

A word with the number twenty-six appeared on the dashboard. “Why, is the word DIE and 26 miles showing?” I calmly asked my sister. Surely, the car wasn’t telling us we were going to die 26 miles up the road.

“Look it up.” Sure enough, I found the manual and what it indicated was ‘Distance To Empty.’ DTE not DIE. We drove on.

She reached over to the dashboard and I quickly said, “Don’t touch anything. It’ll use up more gas.” We drove with no heating, no air conditioning, no lights, etc. The car kept showing the decreasing miles until the numbers disappeared completely and an asterisk appeared.

“What does that mean?” We asked each other as she drove on.

“I think we are on fumes.” She added.

We went down a small hill and there nestled at the bottom was a service station. We rolled in and began breathing normally. No wonder Mother always said, “En el nombre sea de Dios,” (in God’s name) before she ever entered a vehicle. Come to think of it…she only said it whenever my sister or I drove.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Life, Up Close

Our son took us to a presentation of The Secret Garden and obtained front row seats at the college theater, a gesture which was not lost on me. I love plays and the closer I sit, the more I enjoy it.

The play commenced with women attending a party in the garden. As they stood mere inches away from me, I, an aficionado of fabrics, designs, and craftsmanship looked over the costumes carefully. The dresses in blues and pinks and other pastels displayed long sleeves, lace and full skirts. How lovely, I thought. I looked closer. Much to my disappointment, I saw tears in the hems, crooked seams and missing lace. Obviously, the dresses or costumes showed wear and tear. Although it was a natural occurrence for clothes taken out of the theater’s wardrobe, I felt like one feels when an unexpected horrible and hurtful truth is told. An exposure I found hard to deal with.

But isn’t life like this? You have a girlfriend whose company you really enjoy, and then one day she lies, breaks off your lunch date and goes off to lunch with another friend. Or the boyfriend who tells you he is working at a project, and you hear he is actually with another girl. Same thing. When you get up close to the situation you see the truth. It’s just like looking into a magnifying mirror. All the flaws glare at you and you are suddenly shocked at the realization that you hadn’t seen what was really there. Perhaps you hadn’t noticed the flaws before or maybe you had just looked the other way.

Either way, the truth socks you like water splashing you when a car runs over a large puddle of water on the street which you failed to notice as you walked by. And there you are, stunned, frightened and not certain what to do next.

What to do? After mulling this over I’ve decided I still want to sit up close to the action. I want to be as close to life as I can be. Throw the truth at me. I can handle it. Surely, knowing and seeing the truth is better than believing in something and then finding out the truth later. That could hurt more. As I said before, just put me on the front row on the stage of life. I want to see and hear everything. I know all is not perfect nor is it supposed to be. I am ready to take what comes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The World, Before and After Rain

It is raining hard outside right now. These rainy days remind me of rainy days when I was a child. Mama kept a large beautiful chiffonier in the living room. Even though she kept everything in it under lock and key, she gave me access to one of the bottom drawers.

In the drawer I kept play dishes and doll clothes and pieces of cloth to use on my dolls. When it rained and we couldn’t go out to play, instead of feeling disappointed, I felt joyous because it was my opportunity to play with my dolls and the things in the bottom drawer of the chiffonier. Since I was the youngest child for eight years I played mostly by myself.

We lived in a large rambling house with long glass windows that almost came down to the floor. From time to time as I played, I wondered what was going on in the outside world beyond the window, the porch, the street, and even our small town. What are other people doing when it rains like this?

I don’t wonder anymore. People do all sorts of things. They bake bread, sew, work on the computer, knit, crochet, write, converse with one another, read, and wait for the rain to stop so they can perhaps go outside and see how everything looks.

That’s what I did when the rain stopped. My brothers and I ran outside to see the world, now wet, the leaves now glistening with drops of water, roses drooping a bit, the ditch flowing like a small river, the rainbow way up in the sky, and the cleanest air one can ever breathe. It was another world and we were happy to be in it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Match

Among Daddy's faithful customers at his business was Mr. Wright, the owner of his own successful business in our small town. Often Mr. Wright stopped to buy gasoline or to have his car serviced and, while there, chatted with Daddy about various topics. On one occasion in the 1950s he stopped to buy gas and to tell Daddy his wife was seriously ill. Concerned about the situation Daddy asked him if there was anything he could do. Mr. Wright, who had consulted various doctors, smiled patronizingly at Daddy and said, “No, there is nothing you can do, but I appreciate your offer to help.” He drove off and left Daddy thinking about what had just occurred, and he told my mother about it.
Mr. Wright appeared again, and voiced his fear for his beloved wife. Daddy listened and again offered to help in any way he could. Mr. Wright appeared a third time and again expressed concern for his wife and asked Daddy if there was any way one of his sons could go and be tested to see what kind of blood he had. Perhaps it would match his wife’s, and he said he would much rather have the blood of one of Daddy’s boys as he knew they lived wholesome lives. Daddy sent my brothers who were healthy football players. Sure enough, Ben’s blood matched Mrs. Wright’s blood, and the transfusion occurred.
Mrs. Wright recovered and displayed her gratefulness by sending over home-cooked pecan pies from time to time especially for Ben; he shared his gifts with us.
The years passed. We graduated from college and Mr. Wright passed away. We married and had families and in time our parents passed away. Mrs. Wright, meanwhile, experienced good health.
From time to time we traveled to reunions in our small town. Mrs. Wright was always present and talked to all of us, but especially to Ben. The last time we saw Mrs. Wright at a reunion she was 104 years old and lived in a nursing home. Her mind, however, was as alert as it had been fifty two years before. At that last reunion she said to Ben who was now seventy years old, “Ben, I want you to know that it was your blood that kept me going all these years. I want to thank you again.”
We still go to reunions, but we miss Mrs. Wright. I thought she would live forever; she might have thought so, too.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


The teachers told us to get in the bus because they were taking us to meet someone important. We teenagers rode the bus to a nearby town. All of us shook hands with the U.S. Senator. When it came my turn to shake his hand, he looked above my head at someone else. I knew I was totally inconsequential to the politician. He had other important things to do.

My sister in law told me she, as a high school sophomore, was taken to the home of a college coed. “The way she treated me in her nice home, her smiles, her handshake, the graciousness of her manners, I shall never forget. She made me, an insignificant teenager, feel so important.”

It isn’t the fancy clothing. It’s not about the expensive watch. The fancy haircut from the most expensive salon in the city won’t do it for you either. And it isn’t about the beautiful car parked outside.

The part of you that people will remember the best, the element they will never forget, is the way you treated them. The manner in which you spoke to them, the effort expended in dealing with them whether at work, at a business, or in your home. The respect you displayed toward them in your speech and in your attitude toward them. That memory of you will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Be Happy

“You look happy all the time,” an older friend said to me.

“Oh, do I?”

“Yes,” she told me. “I have the idea that life is good for you.”

“I do feel blessed,” I told her, “but sometimes I have unpleasant things happen to me, also. Every one does. I just made the decision a few years ago to be happy. I discovered that happiness is not the result of only good things happening to you, but rather it is a decision you make in spite of negative occurrences. I decided to be happy.”

“So what do you do when you get hurt?”

“I attempt to deal with it. One deals with one incident a little differently than with another situation. I try to apply the right solution, if one exists, to the appropriate problem. If I can, I put it aside. Either way, I know I shall end up happy.”

It is a decision available to all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

We Are All Everyone

Recently we saw the movie Babel again. A most interesting film about how people from different parts of the world are actually interconnected. Our feelings are so similar, perhaps seen from different perspectives, but so similar, if not identical.
I made some stuffed teddy bears for a shower and kept two for myself. Meanwhile a son went to Uganda to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. When he told me he was staying with a family, a mother and father, four children of their own and four nieces and nephews, I thought of sending a package.
We sent a box with watercolors, activity books, and toys. I saw some space at the very top and added one of the teddy bears. We placed some peanuts and candy in the tiny available spaces .My husband thought of placing a copy of the New York Times for our son to read. We shipped the package off.
My son wrote us a letter in which he described the scene. “I opened the box with all eight children surrounding me. The thought of a package seemed to fascinate them. As I took out each item the children’s eyes grew larger and larger. I distributed the gifts and the father was thrilled to sit and read the New York Times even though the copy was several weeks old."
I remembered as a child when Mother opened a package Grandmother mailed to us. She lived in South Texas while we lived in Central Texas. We circled the kitchen table. The items she sent us could not be found in our part of the state. Pan dulce, for example, by the time it arrived was dried, yet Mother loved it and felt fortunate to get it. Herbs or yerbas, as Mother called them, pleased her. My sister and I received bows with matching feathers for our long black hair. We children and Mother, too, experienced joy and pleasure upon opening those packages.
In Uganda our son ran into a small girl who could not speak or hear. He met her guardians and inquired of the child. They said they were her aunt and uncle and the child couldn’t attend school because of her disability. So she worked cleaning their home. My son investigated further and found a German school for children with disabilities. Yes, they could take her in but she needed a uniform and shoes, something her feet had never experienced. And then there was the matter of the tuition.
He took her to a store where they fitted her for a uniform and shoes. Her eyes, upon wearing the shoes, told the story. How proud she felt of her new shoes, and how strange it must have seemed to cover her feet for the first time in her life.
Her parents invited our son to eat dinner with them. So pleased were they with their daughter’s promising future in an educational setting, that they had to meet the young man and treat him as best they could. Delicious chicken graced their modest table that evening. Thankfulness and graciousness presided in that home that day and perhaps on many other days, also.
Universal feelings. Pleasure in receiving packages. A need. A desire to help. Gratitude. Happiness and hope for a small child. We are all the same. We are all everyone.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Our Veterans, Our Heroes

It is entirely appropriate to say something about our heroes today on Veterans’ Day. If it were not for the soldiers who fought in WWII, we might not be able to do the things we are doing today.

Our soldiers are not heroes because they killed enemy soldiers. They are heroes because they preserved our liberty, our freedom to live as we are able to live, to go where we please, to worship wherever we choose. They sacrificed for us.

Their fighting for us who waited back home was an unselfish act. Risking their lives for freedom is a concept some might not even appreciate. But if you understand what it is they did, tell a veteran you appreciate his or her efforts. Let them know we are grateful.

God bless us all. And May God bless our country.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Best

The movie Schindler’s List captivated me. The fact that he saved so many people from death in WWII, and the manner in which he did it moved me to tears. In one of the last scenes in the movie in which Israel is honoring him and the descendants of those he saved speak to him, he responds by saying, …”I could have done more.”

A few years ago I ran into a former student. In the third grade she was an extraordinary student. She did her homework, excelled in class and behaved. How could any teacher not love this child? She came up to me and hugged me saying, “My third grade year (when I taught her) was wonderful. In fact I look at those years in elementary school and realize they were the best years of my life.”

Naturally I was pleased with what she said and happy she loved our school environment. But I also thought…I could have done even more.

Actually, there was not a whole lot more I could have done. We didn’t have much technology back then. I made little money so I really couldn’t have spent any more than I did. And I was young and had not traveled much at all. Thus the information or knowledge I passed on to the students came out of the books, our primary source.

But like Schindler I think most of us look back on what we have done and while pleased when we hear something complimentary about our contributions in the past, we usually feel…I could have done more.

My solution: from this day forward I shall do all I can in any given situation so that I can rest comfortably and say…I did my best.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A New Friend

I met him just a few years ago, but his reputation preceded him, as they say. The people who told me about him said, “He is honest, warm, intelligent and a wonderful person to get to know.”

A few minutes into my interview of him and I learned everything they had told me about him was true, and I could add other complimentary attributes.

He answered my questions but probed about my intentions. Why was I asking him about WWII? What did I plan to do with the information? What was the item I placed on the table? It was a recorder.

I felt as though I knew him from long ago, a lost friend. He supported me in my efforts by wishing me well, and his eyes never left mine during the interview. We spoke of mutual friends. And he wished me well.

I attempted to pay for our meal because after all he had given me information I could use. He insisted on paying the bill. We promised to meet again. In a short period of time Hector had become a good friend.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Teacher For a Lifetime

I remember my teacher Mrs. Pietsch. I remember her because she taught history and that knowledge is still with me. Sacajawea has stayed with me since fifth grade because of Mrs. Pietsch, and she is still pointing toward the Pacific Ocean.

Desoto came from Spain and I can see him with his metal helmet. I understand Columbus’ men rebelling because they feel Columbus is taking them on a wild trip across a flat world. Queen Isabella (Isabel in Spanish) backs Columbus. Ah, now I know the Spanish are my faraway ancestors and perhaps some are involved in this trip. I can pronounce the names of the conquistadores or explorers.

Patrick Henry is speaking to the House of Delegates and I hear him because of Mrs. Pietsch, and I know he is supporting the right cause because Mrs. Pietsch is smiling as she speaks of him.

And she warns us, “Don’t ask questions of the veterans of WWII because they don’t want to talk about what horrors they have seen.” So, young as we are, we almost tiptoe when a veteran is near.

Oh, to be a teacher like Mrs. Pietsch. Perhaps that is why I chose that career, and maybe that is why History is my favorite subject. “Sacajawea, what do you think?”

Friday, October 30, 2009


Have you ever had a dream of becoming someone special or doing something unique? I have. At the age of twelve I told a friend of the family it would be nice to write an article in the newspaper and see my name as the author; byline is the proper word, but I didn’t know that at the time. And it came to pass.

I didn’t know anything about writing other than what the teachers assigned, and back then we didn’t do much writing, certainly not like the students do now. But when the teachers did give us a writing assignment they seemed pleased with my efforts.

In college and in graduate school writing assignments were my favorite work. Those assignments took time, and I had to think everything out. Even now in life I look at some of them and say to myself, “Now that is not too bad when you consider I was a teenager.”

Well, I still have dreams, and I work on them daily. They vary and there are several of them. Some are short term and some dreams demand more of me. Nonetheless I continue working toward them. I suppose some folks might refer to my dreams as goals, and certainly they are that, but I like to say they are dreams.

Happy dreams.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Recently I found an old picture of my father and me walking down the street in a middle-sized town where he went to buy car parts for his business. I am about eight years old, small, skinny and neatly-dressed with pigtails that dangled on my shoulders. Daddy wearing an open shirt and slacks is tall and walking confidently with his eyes looking forward, unsmiling but comfortable with what he is doing. I am looking at a store window, curious as always but happy to be with my father.

No matter what ill wind might blow our way, Daddy always looked and spoke confidently about the future. “We can overcome this with God’s help.”

Because of his prevailing attitude I, too, adopted his way of thinking. When something worrisome occurs, I say to members of my family, “We will work it out.” I know God will help us out. He always has. And He always will.

It pays to be confident, to work toward the solution of problems and to know that God is right there waiting for us to call on Him.


Recently I found an old picture of my father and me walking down the street in a middle-sized town where he went to buy car parts for his business. I am about eight years old, small, skinny and neatly-dressed with pigtails that dangled on my shoulders. Daddy wearing an open shirt and slacks is tall and walking confidently with his eyes looking forward, unsmiling but comfortable with what he is doing. I am looking at a store window, curious as always but happy to be with my father.

No matter what ill wind might blow our way, Daddy always looked and spoke confidently about the future. “We can overcome this with God’s help.”

Because of his prevailing attitude I, too, adopted his way of thinking. When something worrisome occurs, I say to members of my family, “We will work it out.” I know God will help us out. He always has. And He always will.

It pays to be confident, to work toward the solution of problems and to know that God is right there waiting for us to call on Him.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


It was high school graduation night and our son was among the several hundred who had participated in the ceremony. We wanted to make contact with him before we drove home and celebrated with relatives. We looked all over and could not locate him.

And then I found them, a daughter and her father. I stopped briefly and watched. Jane, a tall slender girl, and Sam, her father, a short stocky man, stood looking lovingly at one another. She took her National Honor Society braid and placed it around his neck, and they both laughed. She made other quiet statements to her father and he chuckled. Smiles and perhaps tears.

I never forgot the poignant scene of the lovely daughter looking down at her father and can recall it even now so many years later for I knew the full story. I was told the father raised his daughter from the time she was an infant without help from anyone except a babysitter. He saw her through the pre-school years, middle school years and through her high school years. Finally, at age eighteen he prepared to send her off to college.

Upon graduation she fully understood her father’s dedication and loved him perhaps even more than other children loved their fathers for she understood his sacrifices. A few years later I saw them again, this time at her wedding.

There was not a doubt in my mind. This man was the most dedicated father I ever met, and she was the luckiest girl in the world. Blessings to them both.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Soul Mate

People and researchers have pondered over the question: Why does a human fall in love with a particular person and not with another? What is or what are the elements that cause an individual to seek the love and attention of a particular individual?

Is it commonalities? Perhaps they have the same interests. They like the same things, sports, fishing, traveling? Is the commonality the link that catches them and holds them together?

Does a person become attracted to another who reminds him of a person in his family? Some folks have stated that. Is an individual looking for someone who will fill a need? And if three folks can fill that need, why does he or she choose the one person?

Recently I found what I consider a valid answer. I read the following statement: I liked the way he made me feel about myself. That is it, I told myself. I had never read that before. We need to think about our own experiences. Did the person you fell in love with make you feel you were worthy, smart, beautiful or handsome, happy, caring, sweet, thoughtful…? Did that person make you experience the suggestion that you could even accomplish more in the future? Did you feel hope?

Did you finally feel that someone knew the real you? And you understood that person ever so well, also. If so, you reached the “soul mate’ level, a unique understanding of one another. Congratulations.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Need for Love

An eighty-five year old man lost his wife. A year later he began seeing female friends. Criticism ensued. Why? Would they prefer he spent the rest of his life like a zombie watching television for hours on end?

Sometimes the young folks think they have a monopoly on love. Not so. No matter the age, all of us have the need for love or friendship, a relationship, or a closeness, some sort of experience in which another person appreciates you and enjoys your company.

Toddlers in nurseries seek each other out. Small children in schools, when they go out to play, look for someone to “pal around with”, to share pleasure in playing, a child to laugh with, another peer to show by a smile… I like you.

Teenagers and young adults clamor for the presence of other humans to validate them, to brighten their existence, and perchance to form a closeness they have not had before.

My grandmother died at ninety-six years of age. One of the last words she uttered was the name Benjamin, the name of her husband, the man who abandoned her once and then returned to her life asking for forgiveness for his foolish act. She rejected him but apparently never forgot him. He remained in her mind, the love of her life, until her dying day.

The elderly gentleman mentioned in the first paragraph deserves someone to accompany him in life as do we all. And so, Dear Readers, I wish you friendships, love, good working relationships and happiness in your lives.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Message to a Young Woman

“How do you deal with difficult people?” A young woman asked me as we chatted.

“It isn’t easy,” I told her. “You can choose to ignore the behavior that is annoying. Keep in mind that some remarks are not worth arguing over. Remember the saying, “Pick your fights.

“You can address the behavior in a decent manner in which you acknowledge the person’s ill-chosen words and yet show that you don’t appreciate them and will not tolerate them in the future. That is the tricky part because some folks don’t understand diplomatic language. And they never will.”

“Have you had problems you didn’t know how to handle?”

“Have I ever! I have blundered my way through life, fallen, scraped myself, arose and started anew. And one of the best things I learned is to forgive. Some folks are mean because that is all they know. They were treated like that and that is how they learned to cope. It is not a good idea to join that group. Instead, associate with honest, cheerful and positive people.

“Then look at your friends because your good friends are the best mirror you can find which tells you about yourself. (old Spanish proverb) In other words you associate with those folks who are most like you. So look and select your friends carefully.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Drawing Conclusions

It was nearing the income tax deadline, April 15, and my daughter, a Certified Public Accountant, was working many hours a day. She said, “I want you to come in during spring break, but be aware you will see very little of me because of my work.”

“We’re coming.” As a teacher I needed the break. So my young twelve year old son invited his cousin of the same age to join us as we traveled to Dallas to visit his older sister. Just as she told us my daughter left to go to work while it was still dark and returned late at night. Meanwhile, my son, his cousin and I explored all we could in the big city.

With the tax deadline behind her, my daughter came to visit us a few weeks later. She drove her little brother, his cousin who had traveled with him, and another friend of the same age to the movies. The new friend said to my young daughter, “Wow, you have your own car. What do you do for a living?”

She answered, “Well, why don’t you guess?”

Her young cousin gave hints. “She leaves early in the morning, and comes back late at night.”

“I know,” the little friend excitedly yelled, “you work at Seven-Eleven.”

Moral of the story: Don’t draw conclusions until you have all the facts.


After a period of time we meet and say hello to our son. I, the mother, hugs and kisses and “I love you”. Touch, touch the face. I must touch the face to make sure he is all right. That is motherly behavior, motherly thoughts.

My husband then greets our son. “Play” hits him on the stomach. My son returns the gesture. Then one laughs. The other laughs. “Hey Buddy.” (Not his name.) “Hey Buddy,” returns the other. They finally shake hands with the free hand on each other’s shoulder. Two men, like two little boys, “hitting” each other as a way of greeting one another. Finally, a hug between father and son.

How strange…I think. Some greeting. It must go back to the days of primitive men, before they could speak, when they groaned or grunted and perhaps pawed one another as a form of greeting. Or in recognition.

How different we are, mothers and fathers toward our children. And yet it works. I think it must be the love behind all the different rituals we follow. No matter what you do when you see someone you love, it’s the feeling manifesting itself through our gestures. The look of gladness in our eyes. The love that is way back there and works its way to the surface. It is wonderful.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


After I became a young woman my mother began recalling stories of her life. She had told me some stories before but these took on a more serious tone: the fire that burned her house down; the depression; the war, etc. The harsh experiences in her life gave her a wisdom few people possess, and from time to time she dispensed some of her ideas to me.
She was a quiet woman, kind, reflective, involved in her children’s lives but never intrusive. Yet some of the words she uttered displayed a depth I never understood as a child. “Children need to be allowed to be children,” she said one day. That is why she was not harsh with us, why she seemed lenient. She didn’t want to deprive us of our childhood.
Another time she said, “Don’t return that gift your husband gave you. It may never come your way again.” I kept the silver object and still love it to this day.
And after she needed special care she said, “Don’t spend the night here with me. I’ll be all right. You belong with your husband. Go back home.” This time I disobeyed her, but shortly thereafter we found someone to spend weekends with her so I could be with my family.
Even after she became ill she thought of others first. Her last words to me which I shall always treasure: “Que Dios te cuide, hija.” (May God take care of you, daughter.) And He has.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Eyes Have It

“When you want to know about people,” my friend Mrs. Powell told me, “just look into their eyes. The eyes tell you everything you need to know about a person.”

I began doing that. I probed and looked deeply into certain individual’s eyes as we conversed. My teacher friend Annie has eyes that want to learn. They search my face when I tell her anything at all. Nothing else catches her attention when I speak to her. And her seriousness is evident. Her mouth is set and her body is still.

Alvin, a principal, has eyes that twinkle like he is enjoying a joke when we talk. His smile matches his eyes all crinkly and winking at me. It is fun talking with him as I know what his reaction will be before I even begin. And he is antsy. He keeps on moving or fidgeting. But his eyes cheer you on.

Sally smiles and doesn’t stop. Her message from her eyes; I like you. And I, in turn, can’t help but like her. She shows interest and adds to the conversation, which enhances the subject matter. A person is richer in knowledge after talking with her.

And then I met Agnes. Nothing. Her eyes were blank. How can that be? I wondered. We all have a message, a feeling, a thought, a position. I looked again as we spoke. Nothing. Her blue eyes showed me nothing. And I felt bad when I walked away. To this day I can’t understand it. A total blank.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Faith in What You Know

Many years ago my father moved his family from a small town to the city where I was teaching. He had to register my brother at his assigned junior high school and asked me to join him.

The counselor talked about the school and how different the new large school was from the small school my brother had attended. "Don't expect him to do as well here in this sophisticated school as he did in that small town school," she cautioned my father.

I was nervous, thinking, Lady, you are talking to the wrong man. I worried that our father, a strong-willed man with a great deal of determination and goals for his children, might argue with the counselor. Instead, he remained silent.

We said our thanks and goodbyes and walked out of her office. As we approached the car, my father stopped, and turning to my young brother said confidently, "You know that woman in there? She is ignorant. She doesn't know you. You will do fine here as you always have."

I relaxed. That's my Dad, I said to myself. And my brother succeeded just like Daddy said he would.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


A church group was preparing for a long trip to Chicago. The Youth Director gave each young person, a member of a choir, a questionnaire to fill out. One of the questions asked was...Who would you like to sit by? Other interesting questions filled the paper.

The young people spoke to the Youth Director individually about their feelings on this two- week trip to another part of the country. One young lady, Ruthie, told the director no one liked her. He surprised her by saying...Did you know that your name came up more than anyone else's on the question...Who would you like to sit by?

She was surprised as she had greatly underestimated herself. She was a quiet, unassuming girl. She kept to herself and thought, perhaps, that because she wasn't Miss Bubbly, people didn't like her.

What she didn't realize is that people do appreciate quiet people, also, as long as they are honest, helpful and display friendship. Each individual has value and personal worth. It is there. Look for it, and you will find it.

Good hunting.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Believe in Yourself

When I first met my husband's Uncle George, a tall Averell Harriman type person, he said, "Hello."
I said, "Hello."
Then he immediately follows with, "Do you eat chow chow?"
My first thought, "What is this? What is wrong with this man?"
He told me he made chow-chow, a relish you eat with hot dogs, hamburgers, and black-eyed peas.
Uncle George - it turns out he was a very nice man - believed in himself and in his product. He kept on working on his chow-chow product and eventually the company expanded. His products now sell all over the country.
He convinced me to buy a jar, and I eat the product to this day. But the most important lesson I learned from Uncle George was to believe wholly and completely in what you undertake. Good things will happen.