Tag Archives: familia

Y Una Luz Pequena Abre Un Nuevo Camino con Cancion de Paloma

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The last few days have been a special kind of hell. Last night, when el chileno dropped off la poroto, and I considered that I might not take care of her, he seemed a little too eager to help in that way, in taking my hija off my hands. Quizas my mother and sister were right with their gut reactions.

Pero all throughout the day, small gifts came in that allowed me to pay towards my electricity and buy food for casa mala. Someone bought me a metrocard so I wouldn’t have to walk everywhere like I have been doing for weeks (even though I actually like the walking). Y despues, ni voy a llamar lo milagro. No porque to call it a miracle doesn’t give it the place it deserves. blessing? Yes, because I feel that we are given signs and people placed in our path and opening new paths for a reason. Every single person and conversation is a lesson in love, giving and receiving it.

For the last two days I have been crying off and on. Trying to put a good face on for las nenas. La Mapu understands all of this a little better and took a break from casa mala and mamita mala stress and stayed with my mom last night, pero I wish she was here. Last night I cried out of relief, joy, gratitude and love.

Familia, yes familia is my blood family. My sister trying to help me find a more sustainable living situation in terms of work and home. My mom trying so hard not to judge and helping me with la mapu. And chosen familia, familia that you meet and instantly fall in love with because their hearts and souls are just so beautiful. So many of you here are my chosen familia. Showing me love and support in ways I was told I didn’t deserve. So thank you.

For now casa mala remains casa mala, with working electricity and a working phone and a working heart that doesn’t feel so beat the fucking down. I still need to figure out long term how I will do this survival game. I still need a more sustainable work, living, childcare situation pero I have some room to just stop and breath.

And I owe some peeps the biggest wedding gift, ever!!!!

Abrazos
M

Hoy Es Tu Dia

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For the sake of the children,
we rise,
hide easter eggs and baskets
pero now the date belongs to you,
titi
madrina.
The date is stolen from your own sister
who will not celebrate
pero instead stand
con los pies en el fango
before the place she too will be buried
along with my mother and the only tio.

Hoy es tu dia
and tus hermanas
think every ache
every pain
is more than just loss.
They become warnings
possible sickness
cancer
impending death
if not of los cuerpos
then of their minds
which have now been trained to expect the worse
thanks to your senos
your cesos
los pechos de titi Masi and Titi Lucy
el derrame cerebral de la abuela
and milagros that rosarios have stopped bringing.

Hoy es tu dia
cada dia 12
cuando hace un mes
la vigilia no era para la resurrección
pero por el cese da la respiracion agobiante
la espera era los largos segundos
de sufrimiento cuando
I actually prayed for your death titi.

Hoy es tu dia,
and thats how it will always be
with a remembering of your death
and all the days of life before.

The Universe Needs to Give a Mama a break

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I’ve been trying hard to write here everyday, and write meaningful cosas, poems, experiences etc etc, pero no te voy a mentir, it’s feeling hard.

I am struggling to feed my kids and keep a roof over their heads.
I am fighting for health insurance for them which I already wrote a little here and my kids still don’t have their insurance cuz apparently my caseworker has never had a client that has filed her own taxes online. Really?

Then my tia has gotten worse. Her brain cancer has spread which is causing all sorts of family drama.

Parenting a moody tween is taking it’s toll on me. La Mapu is fierce and little too much like me. We will have a sit down this weekend and map some strategies.

Add to the mix brokeness , tech issues, and heartache and well you have the makings for one moody mala.

I’m trying and I guess that’s all I can really do.

Rest in Peace Abuela Lucia

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This morning, my maternal abuela passed away. She had suffered a stroke on Friday.

I was able to say goodbye to her yesterday. She couldn’t speak when I saw her in the hospital. Rather she answered me by squeezing my hand, which had been wrapped in huge versions of the mittens they put on babies so that they won’t scratch themselves. She had been trying to pull out her tubes. My mother had taken her hands out of the mittens. I asked for her bendicion. Told her how beautiful the day was, with winter seemingly transforming into Spring. I told her about my hijas, including the things that poroto was doing and how la Mapu has just taken her 6th grade graduation pictures. La Mapu was with me and also asked for my abuela’s bendicion, as that’s how we always greeted her and left her. She squeezed a bendicion to my older daughter and me and I kissed her before I left, promising to see her the next day. Pero there would be no next day, not like I expected or wanted anyway.

She was the classic Rican matriarch, with children, who had children who had children. Her apartment in Jamaica, Queens was a refuge for so many including myself. Her puerta was never closed, sometimes even when it should have been pero familia was familia, no matter how troublesome they were/are. Her apartment was the center of the familia with life centering in the kitchen and moving to her bedroom as she got older and wasn’t able to move around so much. Many Sundays were spent with tias and primas sitting around her on the cama, catching up on bochinche, novelas and trashy magazines. Navidad wasn’t complete without a visit to abuela’s and even this last navidad, she helped prepare the pasteles.

She came to New York from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico so many years ago pero never really learned English, although she understood more than she let on.

Even after her stroke on Friday, the doctors marveled at the results of her brain scans that revealed the mind of a 40 something year old woman, not a 90 something year old woman. None of the familia holding vigil around her bed was surprised. She was never really ill and I have her to thank for my sarcasm and my crooked back. Pero it was her example that taught all of her children and their children and their children just how much we could carry on our backs, the troubles we would travel with pero ya no hay cruz en tu espalda abuelita. Ya viajas con tu querido Aurelio, my abuelo papi, y espero que ya vienen de visita pronto.

Te quiero mucho.

Carta a Abuela Lucia

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I don’t know you as the fierce mujer who would would go with her children into basements and set her arms aflame when montada con Chango because those are stories my tio and tias only told when one of your children faced death herself.

No abuela, I know you as the one who took me in after my mami tried to kill herself when I my father left for another mujer. I remember you waking before dawn and serving me Corn Flakes while asking what I wanted for lunch and dinner. I know you as the mujer who liked maja soap from Spain and who brushed my hair with an orange-yellow brush that none of the other primos used. I remember you putting me inside your shopping cart and walking down Hillside Avenue. When we returned to your apartment, I would be gifted with Andes Candies Chocolate, far better than the Sucrets in tin boxes Abuelo Papi would pass off as dulces to me and my primos.

I remember novelas, Mirta de Perales, Walter Mercado and Iris Chacon in your living room, when you still had the ugly plastic covered sofas with the watermill print.

I remember your heavy Santa barbara pendant with one red stone, red like the fire you wore on your arms held in your heart. I remember you taking care of Papi when he became sick and cursing him out under your breath over a pot of arroz con gandules.

You, who always wanted to be a writer, pero never finished school because you had to take care of your other siblings and help your mother take care of an alcoholic husband. So I am the writer. I am the one who sat on your bed drinking in all of your stories about how you were a strong yet troubled mother con 5 hijos, not counting Miriam who died as a baby. A mother who made the hard choice of sending two of her children to be raised by two of her sisters.

My mother left her Colombus Landing, in Mayaguez to live with your sister, first in Washington Heights, then in New Hyde Park. Titi Lucy, rest in peace, was my mom’s second mom. Tio Roberto was also raised by one of your sisters, Titi Masi, who also passed on because of breast cancer.

Pero tu, Abuela Lucia, tu who survived colonial operations and migrations, you are the one who passed your sarcastic tongue to my mother and to me.

You are the one I brought my articles, stories and poems to even though you can’t read English. Seeing my byline in print is enough for you to be happy.

And here abuela Lucia, hija de Chango, I put another byline for you and una promesa que pase lo que pase I will tell your story and the story of so many Puerto Rican women porque for too long you and so many of us were told that our stories no tenian valor, when we are pure valor abuela.

Si Abuelita, matriarch of a kingdom, aqui las palabras son para ti.

Milagros

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After a 9 hour operation inside her head, My titi opened her eyes last evening and started singing. She recognized her sisters, her nieces, and her daughter. She said she was happy Obama was president and sent love to my toddler. She knew her name, the year, where she was, and she knew that she wasn’t gonna cook a damn thing for Thanksgiving. She flirted with a nurse, telling her she was “hot”. She told us she saw angels and grandfather and tias who have passed. My abuelo wrapped his arms around my mother and we all wept joyfully and breathed.

Cada dia es un regalo y este regalo es para ti hoy, Titi A.

I Do Not Live, Work, breath in the Abstract : This is Real

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Yes, last night was historic. As much as I wanted to bask in it, feel it, cry for it, and jump for it, it was hard.

For the past few days I have been in the middle of a family crisis. My dear tia/madrina, the one who was always just down the block from me my whole life, una segunda madre, was diagnosed with a rapidly growing brain tumor. I have spent countless hours in the same hospital where I gave birth to Miss Poroto, pero now filling out papers to make medical decisions for a single mother who worked her ass off her whole life even when she should have been resting. She pulled me close to her in the hospital bed and in between incoherent comments, she told me the color flowers she wanted at her funeral, that she didn’t want to be incapacitated, that she had let people down, that she was in debt, to take care of her only daughter whose eventual one day wedding she would miss, that she wouldn’t see Miss Poroto grow up and damnit would she be able to vote in this historic election. Si she worrie

As I write this from my apartment, surgeons are operating on my titi. Looking into her brain that they mapped using dye, looking at what doesn’t look good.

Yesterday, as I blogged all day and almost all nite on the election, I was called in to be on live tv to discuss the election. I told them I would pero only if they had someone there who could help me with the kids. My familia was at the hospital, el chileno was working. The tv network agreed. As the car service that was sent called to tell me they were downstairs, Poroto took a huge shit. In the car over from Queens to brooklyn, Poroto vomited all over herself and me. I walked into the tv studio with a half naked toddler and me smelling like regurgitated fruit. I tried to control Poroto as I was made up for tv and tried my best to scrape off quickly drying bits of vomit. A producer whisked Poroto away as I went into the studio to discuss the election, Latino vote, immigration, and blogging. A fellow panelist, a professor asked what I blogged about while we were on break. I told her Latino issues and the mami’hood. As I explained the mami’hood concept to her, I mentioned that I was covered in toddler vomit.

So you don’t write from the abstract, this is what you are living.

No I don’t do anything from the abstract. I do not have that luxury.

As I left the set and the fantasy world of tv punditry I got to play in for an hour, my sister called me to tell me that even after the operation, the prognosis for my tia didn’t look good. Days. We are looking at days.
Once at home, with the toddler asleep and washed up, I paced, smoked cigarettes, drank and blogged as Obama became the president elect. I worried about upcoming speaking events, money, trips and death. And I cried along with the rest of a nation, although probably not for the same reasons.