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.